Invisalign is a revolutionary form of orthodontic treatment that is used to straighten teeth without having to wear traditional metal braces. This technology comprises of proprietary virtual modeling software, swift development and collective customization, and custom clear tray aligners. Patients with open bites, crowded teeth, bad bites, or teeth that are too far apart usually use metal braces to correct these issues. These patients have the option of wearing customized, clear plastic aligners to shift your teeth into the desired position. If your teeth have problems with alignment, but you don't wish to have a mouth full of metal braces, Washington Dental highly recommends wearing Invisalign.

Disrupting the Orthodontic Industry

Align Technology (ALGN) is the company behind this groundbreaking product and its patented aligner material. Based on 2017 data, more than one million teens had used Invisalign, and an additional five million people around the world had bought this treatment. Wearing metal braces is no longer a rite of passage for teens and young adults who want straight teeth as they can turn to the world's leading invisible orthodontic products.

Despite the impressive growth of these aligners, Align Technology appreciates, there is an untapped market among the teen population. Data estimates that over 10 million teens need orthodontic treatments every year, but only 3% were using Invisalign as of December 2017. This disparity presents a huge market opportunity to reach millions of teenagers in the US, China, and the rest of the world. Align Technologies is keen to push global sales by targeting doctors to prescribe Invisalign and enlightening patients on the benefits of this product.

Elements of Invisalign

Invisalign treatment options are used to correct cases of varying degrees as well as post-treatment retention. This technological system is powered by three essential elements, as explained below:

  • SmartTrack material – this refers to ALGN's patented aligner material which produces continued gentle forces to enhance better and faster control of tooth movements. Patients who choose this orthodontic option get to witness results in a lesser timeframe.
  • SmartStaging technology – this component helps to program motions of each tooth in a specified series, and scheduled promptly for better predictability and to get the desired outcomes.
  • SmartForce features – these features are embedded into the aligners to deliver defined forces as necessary to promote the predictable motion of teeth. Examples of these features that are unique to the Invisalign system include Precision Cuts, Bite Ramps, and a Power Ridge. These features are used to correct wide-ranging clinical scenarios for teens and older patients.

In a nutshell, these innovative aligners work by exerting the desired level of pressure to specific areas of the mouth to gradually alter the positioning of misaligned teeth. The dentist will need to perform a digital scan of your bite then determine the best treatment plan for your goals.

Who Needs Invisalign Braces?

The American Association of Orthodontics surmises that roughly 4.5 million people across the country wear braces to correct one dental problem or another. An estimated 80% of patients who receive orthodontic treatment typically range between 6 to 18 years, while the remaining percentage covers older patients. There are many reasons why a patient may need orthodontist treatments with traditional braces or the better option of getting aligners.

  1. Crowding of Teeth

Crowded teeth are the most prevalent issue that necessitates intervention by an orthodontist. While this problem is common among growing children, it is not uncommon to find adults with crowded teeth when there is not enough space on the gum line for all teeth. This lack of space leads to overcrowding, and some teeth become crooked thus making oral care more complicated than necessary.

What's more, people with crooked teeth may avoid social situations as they feel self-conscious when speaking to other people. They may also refrain from smiling in fear of embarrassing themselves. In these cases, orthodontic treatment at a young age is highly desired to prevent more significant problems as upon reaching adulthood. If you are an adult with crowded teeth, Invisalign gives you renewed hope of aligning your dental formula without having to wear metal braces as you see with children.

  1. Open Bite

This problem occurs when the front teeth do not make contact thus leaving a gap sometimes wide enough for the tongue to stick out, and this can lead to speech problems. For instance, a person with an open bite can have a lisp, which is a speech defect where letters "z" and "s" are pronounced as "th." More so, someone with an open bite is likely to experience bite problems when eating food, such as eating food with the front teeth.

  1. Underbite

This problem occurs when the upper front teeth fall behind the lower front teeth forming an abnormal bite, and it usually happens when the jaw is disproportionate in size. If left unattended, an underbite can lead to extreme wear of teeth and make it challenging to treat these teeth, and gum recession may occur.

  1. Overbite

An overbite refers to how the front teeth overlap vertically and horizontally, and it is not atypical to find people with upper teeth that stick out more than the lower teeth. When this happens, there is a likelihood of fracturing the front teeth and dental restoration procedures such as crowns don't last long.

The above clinical situations generally start in childhood and can be corrected if addressed right away, but in some cases, the person can reach adulthood without having received treatment. Regardless of the patient's age, crossbites, underbites, openbites, and crowded teeth can be treated with Invisalign aligners. Washington Dental is experienced in helping many clients in their twenties, thirties, and even over fifty, who need orthodontic treatment to handle similar issues.  

Types of Invisalign Braces

Since 1998, Align Technology has blazed the trail when it comes to developing better models of braces. The company's flagship product – Invisalign – has become synonymous with clear braces, and millions of patients have embraced them to straighten their teeth. There are three kinds of Invisalign braces each developed to address the specific needs of clients:

  1. Teen Invisalign Braces

As mentioned previously, teens are the biggest customers for traditional braces and the more advanced option of Invisalign. Since their jaws and teeth are still developing, dentists must use brands of aligners that are suited to accommodate this growth. Invisalign Teen is customized to assist with teeth straightening for teenagers as their jaws and dental formula continues to change. To this end, this aligner technology has certain features that encourage excellent outcomes:

  • Unique aligners to promote the growth of the lower jaw and allow orthodontist intervention without having to use elastics
  • Six replacement aligners in case the teen misplaces or damages any aligner
  • Tooth eruption tabs to create enough room as the teeth continue to sprout and develop into an adult set of teeth
  • Compliance indicators to verify if the teen is wearing them for at least 22 hours per day. This feature helps parents to ensure their teens are following doctor's orders, so this expensive treatment doesn't go to waste.
  1. Full Invisalign Braces

The full Invisalign is the most frequently used treatment to correct advanced dental issues by way of tooth positioning. This orthodontic procedure typically takes 12-18 months to achieve the desired results, but the dentist may recommend additional time if they deem it necessary.

  1. Express Invisalign Braces

Not all clinical scenarios are too far gone to necessitate full Invisalign treatment. If your dental issues are moderate, our experts suggest you try Invisalign Express to correct these mild problems. You can choose either of the two Express treatment lengths; installing five aligners for three months or installing about ten aligners for up to six months. A qualified dentist will determine the best option for you, depending on the extent of misalignment.

What are the Advantages of Invisalign Braces?

  1. Straight Teeth

The main objective of this orthodontist intervention is to get straight teeth for a healthy bite, and any overcrowded teeth can find room along the gum line. You can achieve this aim within 12 to 18 months, depending on your clinical situations. Apart from having a beautiful smile, straight teeth bolster your confidence in social situations and save you from speech issues like a lisp.

  1. Invisible Appearance

As the name suggests, Invisalign trays are undetectable, and this makes them appealing to teens and adults alike. If your child is afraid of the moniker ‘brace face' from their peers, consider this alternative as it is discrete. The same applies to employees who wish to correct alignment problems without flashing a metallic smile during client presentations.

  1. Better Oral Hygiene

These invisible trays are removable as recommended by a trained professional. You can remove them when brushing and flossing teeth then wear them again with ease. What's more, you can wash these trays with Invisalign Cleaning System or your regular toothbrush, so there is no accumulation of bacteria. Dentists advise using warm water when cleaning as high temperatures can warp the clear trays, thus rendering them unusable. Keep in mind that straightening teeth should not interfere with your oral regimen.

  1. Improve Dental Health

The American Dental Association recommends handling teeth alignment problems to enhance the overall health and longevity of your teeth. Refusing to correct bite issues could trigger a host of health complications such as gum diseases, the abnormal wearing of the enamel, dental caries, and jaw issues. Getting that orthodontist procedure now means fewer trips to the dentist and a higher likelihood of keeping your teeth in the sunset years.

  1. Fewer Dental Visits

Invisalign allows you to achieve the desired outcomes with fewer trips to the dentist as you only need maintenance checks every six weeks. Traditional braces generally require more checkups, and it can be inconveniencing moving things around not to mention expensive.

  1. Comfortable to Wear

As mentioned earlier, this technology utilizes custom-made trays that are made from smooth plastic, which makes these braces more comfy to wear as compared to the metallic options. Patients do not have to fret over extruding edges potentially hurting their mouth.

  1. Safe and Removable

These invisible braces don't have sharp edges and are therefore safe to wear even when engaging in high-contact sports like football, gymnastics, or track competitions. If your teen is actively involved in sports, consider getting Invisalign so they can carry on with normal activities.

  1. Minimal Food Restrictions

Typically, dental corrections with traditional metallic braces come with food restrictions are that can prevent you from enjoying favorite dishes. With Invisalign, patients don't have to worry about forgoing sticky, hard, or chewy foods as they can remove trays during mealtime.

How Much Do Invisalign Braces Cost?

Understandably, Invisalign is more expensive than regular metallic braces, and the price varies from one manufacturer to the next. You can be asked to pay anywhere between $3,000 to $8,000 depending on the amount of treatment you need and how many aligners you will use throughout treatment. The Consumer Guide for Dentistry estimates that Invisalign costs $3,000 to $5,000 while the national average for metal braces stands at $2,000–$6,000. We concur that these costs seem prohibitive, especially if more than one family member needs treatment, but there are different ways of paying at more affordable rates.

  • Dental Insurance Cover

Many dental insurances will pay for Invisalign up to around $3,500, but you must verify this with your provider so you know how much out-of-pocket costs you will pay, if any. If you don't have dental insurance, we advise you to find a suitable plan as you prepare to get this treatment.

  • Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

CHIP is yet another option that can pay for your children's dental treatments, but only if they are eligible for this federal program. If teeth problems are thwarting the proper development and health of your child, CHIP can foot the bill for these invisible braces. Please note, these cases vary from one jurisdiction to another, and so you need to investigate beforehand.

  • Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

An FSA refers to a plan where employees set aside some cash from their salaries (before tax) for use on costs they accrue when receiving treatment. Please note, not all employers have this provision, so you need to check with human resources. If you are lucky to have this option through an employee benefits package, take full advantage to offset these charges. Please note, any funds saved with a flexible spending account don't roll over to the next fiscal year, so it is wise to use these savings before they go to waste. As of 2018, FSA caps individual contributions per employer at $2,650.

  • Health Savings Account (HSA)

You can also subsidize Invisalign treatment with a health savings account (HSA). Similar to an FSA, a health savings account allows workers to deduct money from their income (before tax) for use in the event of health care needs. Unlike the former plan, people with HSAs can roll over their savings to the next fiscal year, so there is no pressure to use the money before it expires. Nonetheless, this financing option requires workers to have a healthcare insurance cover with high premiums. As of 2018, HSA capped individual contributions at $3,450 and $6,850 for a family.

  • More Financing Options

Some dentists will have financing options, or you could use third-party financing companies such as Capital One or CareCredit to help cover the costs of orthodontist treatment. These methods are especially useful when a patient requires extensive work to correct severe cases of overcrowding. Dentists usually ask for a down payment before commencing treatment. You will then pay the difference as installments spread over many months, paying as low as $50 per month or as high as $200 per month throughout treatment.

Before estimating the total budget of these aligners, we advise clients to consult with a qualified dentist for an examination of their teeth to determine the extent of issues such as malocclusions. The dentist will explain how many aligners you will need and estimate the duration of treatment from when the Invisalign is installed to achieving the desired results. Regardless of the total budget of getting aligners, other patients can attest that investing in this orthodontist option yields fantastic results that will last a lifetime. 

After Care Expenses for Invisalign

Choosing this orthodontic treatment comes with a host of expenses before and after installation, but the results are worth the investment. After years of having an open bite or crooked teeth dampening your self-esteem, every dollar that goes into improving your smile is well spent.

Just like the case with traditional braces, you will need to wear a retainer to keep your teeth in their new arrangement well after the invisible braces have done their job. There are two kinds of retainers; removable ones and those who are cemented onto the teeth. One fastener generally goes for about $100, but the cost can rise as far as $500 per piece.

Dentists advise patients to adorn retainers each day in the weeks following successful treatment until they are allowed only to wear them during nighttime. Therefore, patients need to keep going for dental appointments as scheduled to check progress and correct any issue that may arise. If you are in your twenties or older, your teeth and jaws will not be growing any longer, which means no need to wear braces again if this treatment goes well.

Patients Must Insist on Invisalign Certification

Orthodontists are specialists who deal with moving teeth, but this does not automatically qualify them to prescribe and install Invisalign. The doctor's ability to use Invisalign well is dependent on the training they received and their experience performing these procedures. Therefore, it is imperative that patients understand that while orthodontic treatments are prevalent, not all orthodontists can perform Invisalign procedures. 

Align Technologies – a publicly-traded company that is manufactured and sells medical devices such as Invisalign – usually offer training on how to use the aligners. They ensure dentists have the necessary knowledge and skills needed to install this advanced transparent aligner system to optimize results for patients. Doctors who are classified as "Preferred Invisalign Provider" have satisfied other requirements above and beyond the mandatory training.

ALGN surmises that trained orthodontists have helped over 6.8 million patients so far, and these numbers are set to grow in the following years. If your teen is showing signs of dental problems discussed above, contact a dentist who is certified to handle Invisalign for a consultation. This aligner technology is continually undergoing innovation to tweak it so it can better address the evolving needs of patients.

How Do I know if Invisalign is Perfect For Me?

We understand the weight of this decision for teens and for adults who may have lived with teeth alignment problems up to this point. Apart from the higher price tag that comes with these aligners, there are other drawbacks that you need to consider, such as the financial investment. You also need to wear them for nearly a full day except for two hours, and you can forget wearing colored lipstick for a while. Hot beverages like coffee will warp the trays and stain them, and having discolored Invisalign means they become conspicuous, which is not the effect you are seeking.

We advise you to speak to people who have had these invisible braces installed and have a candid conversation about how helpful – or not – they have found them. Moreover, there are tons of online reviews by patients who currently have Invisalign or have tried this correctional method before. What are they saying? Are they happy with their results? Research thoroughly before deciding whether to invest in these invisible braces and don't forget to consult with a qualified dentist.

Find an Invisalign Dentist Near Me

Millions of Americans experience teeth alignment problems during the impressionable years or a little later in life. Clinical situations like overcrowded teeth, overbites, and underbites are relatively common, and they can be addressed using invisible braces. Align Technology has gifted us with the most advanced transparent braces solution to date, and they train dentists on how to install them. Washington Dental has several offices in California (Los Angeles, Carson, Torrance, and Lomita) all fully equipped to handle your dental needs. Contact us today for a consultation with our team of expert dentists.