Invisalign Q & A

When someone comes to my office, basically there are three questions of concern about any type of treatment, but especially Invisalign:
1) Does it work?
2) How long does it take?
3) How much does it cost?

Q: Does it work? A: Yes! This more comfortable and esthetically pleasing alternative to traditional metal or clear fixed braces provides a unique benefit to today’s on-the-go life style. This technique of invisible “braces” uses custom molded clear plastic sets of removable aligners (alternatively called trays) to gradually move and reposition teeth over time. There is minimal disruption in one’s daily routine.

Q: How long does it take? A: As you would anticipate, treatment varies with the severity of the misaligned teeth, the skeletal type of the individual, cooperation of the patient, adhering to Invisalign’s recommended wearing schedule, oral hygiene and one’s unique biological response. Generally, for a typical comprehensive treatment it usually runs about 12-18 months. Treatment may be shorter than traditional braces. In some cases Invisalign may be much shorter than braces.

Q: What does it cost? A: The cost includes three stages: the records, the treatment, and the first sets of in-house retainers. It varies from patient to patient depending on the severity of the problem and what type of Invisalign treatment is selected. Over 95% of the time the cost is given to you on your first consultation visit based on the records we take that day (see our description of your first visit). Invisalign comes in a number of offerings:
• Comprehensive: Virtually an unlimited number of aligners
• Invisalign Lite: Limited to 14 sets of aligners
• Express 10: Limited to 10 sets of aligners
• Express 5: Limited to 5 sets of aligners
• Invisalign First: (New) Phase I treatment for young children with both adult and baby teeth
• Mandibular Advancement: (New) Phase I treatment for a young and growing patient to help the lower jaw move forward for better jaw to jaw harmony and facial balance

Treatment cost ranges can vary widely depending on choice of treatment and if one or both sets of teeth are treated. Cost can be from $1,500 to $5,800-$7,200 to over $8,000 for surgical cases and very complex cases.

There are several payment plans methods that will be explained to you that allow cost to be spread over time.

Q: Does Invisalign cost more than braces? A: Yes, but not in every case. The reason is simply that Invisalign treatment carries a very significant lab fee paid to Align Technology that is not present with braces. However, in some cases, there is no difference in cost.

Q: What are the advantages of Invisalign over braces? A: They are virtually invisable, comfortable, removable, esthetically pleasing, whitening can be done during treatment, more hygienic, less pressure, more precise due to vast amount of technology incorporated, no sharp edges, no emergency visits, no broken braces, fewer visits, no restrictions on foods to eat, free to brush/floss, can be done if away at school or long distance, and often shorter treatment times.

Q: What are the disadvantages of Invisalign? A: You have to wear them! It’s up to you. Invisalign recommends 20-22 hours each day. Remove the aligners when eating, brushing/flossing, sports, specialvoccasions, and drinking other than water. Intervals between changing aligners can vary from 14 days to 10 days to 7 days. For some, every 5 days can even work.

Q: How often do I see the Orthodontist? A: Regular office visits are typical every 6-10 weeks to judge progress. This can vary from patient to patient.

Q: What are attachments and why are they needed? A: Attachments are very small tooth colored “bumps” on some teeth dictated by Invisalign’s software to better grab particular teeth to give them a directional force and/or to serve as counter forces. The attachments engage a greater amount of tooth surface to make difficult movements more efficient and more predictable. They are buffed off at the end of treatment. It has been my experience that attachments are the #1 source of complaints from patients but are tolerated knowing that the end result demands them.

Q: Does Invisalign work for all ages? A: Yes! As long as the teeth, the gums and the bone holding the teeth are healthy then Invisalign will work. The same is true for braces.

Q: Is there any discomfort with Invisalign treatment? A: There will be some pressure and minor discomfort for a couple days but not pain. We have found that changing your aligners when going to bed is helpful since the initial soreness is generally the first six hours. Advil taken according to the package recommendations has been helpful.

Q: How do I keep the aligners clean? A: Simply use toothpaste and a tooth brush with warm or cold water. Do not boil them. Particular cleaning tablets will be given to you as well. Do not use denture cleaners since they will make the aligners cloudy.

Q: Can I chew gum? A: You are welcomed to try. However, you must first start the gum chewing without the aligner in place to soften it. Then place the aligner in your mouth. The gum has to be sugarless and only one small stick at a time (Trident, Orbit). If it does not stick to the aligners then you are fine.

Q: Can I smoke with the aligners? A: We discourage smoking with aligners. First, it will slow treatment due to nicotine compromising blood flow to the bone and gums. Secondly, it will quickly discolor the plastic material.

Q: Can I drink coffee, tea or hot drinks with Invisalign? A: Invisalign recommends only drinking water with the aligners. However, I know how important other drinks can be in daily routines. My advice is to give it a try. As an aside, drinks with color like Gatorade stain the plastic almost immediately. Be sure to rinse the aligners if you have any type of sugary drink (you should avoid sugary drinks in general).

Q: Will wearing aligners affect my speech? A: There may be a slight impact on speech and extra saliva in the mouth for a day or two but it very quickly disappears. In fact, I have no one bring this up as an issue.

Q: What is IPR? A: IPR stands for interproximal reduction. Tooth movement with Invisalign depends on teeth not being tightly against each other. This procedure is a gentle “sanding” between designated teeth to create space. Rest assured this procedure is very safe and has been a part of orthodontics for almost one hundred years.

Q: What are “chewies”? A: Chewies are a helpful part of Invisalign treatment. They are small cylindrical cushions made of plastic-like material called Styrene Copolymer. The best results from your Invisalign treatment are realized when your teeth fit perfectly and fully into each aligner before you move on to your next set of new ones. There should be no gap between the plastic and your teeth. If there is such a gap then this is known as your teeth “not tracking”. Chewing on the chewies for a minute or so in the morning and evening helps to seat the aligners.