Invisalign uses a series of clear plastic aligners to move the teeth. Conventional orthodontics uses wires and bracket fixtures on the teeth.
The main advantage of invisalign is thus, that it is less visible during treatment. It allows for removal at social functions such as weddings etc. Strict compliance with wearing is needed though, so this should be done with care and on the treating doctors advice.
It also means that the aligners can be removed when cleaning your teeth, which aids with proper cleaning and allows for minor dental treatment to be carried out, as well as better routine x-rays. It is almost impossible to floss properly with conventional braces.
Another advantage is that invisalign usually uses expansion of the arch to create space, meaning that often teeth do not need to be removed. With conventional braces, teeth are often removed to create space for the desired movements, although this is not always the case.
Invisalign is particularly effective where the bite for the back teeth is good, but there is a cosmetic problem with crowding of the front teeth. Conventional braces are good for almost all situations, but invisalign has more limitations.
Another advantage is that the final result can be visualised prior to treatment. Invisalign is based on computer modelling of your teeth and predicting movements based on complex mathematical simulation of the forces needed. This means a 3D model of your start and finish can be viewed prior to starting.
Remember, with all treatments there are risks and side effects also. With invisalign, sometimes the enamel needs to be shaved to create space, leading to sensitivity. Some movements are not predictable with invisalign, and so conventional braces are needed.
The aligners need to be worn 22 hours a day and no hot drinks, smoking or snacks can be eaten during this time. The aligners must be fully removed to allow eating or drinking everything except clear cold fluids. (Some see this as an advantage to reduce snacking habit).
Invisalign requires a deep commitment to comply with the treatment as it requires lifestyle changes to work effectively. The commitment to retainers is also for life, whether that is bonded retainers (a wire behind the teeth) or removable retainers worn at night.
Dr Frank Farrelly
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