Survival Guide: Invisalign

Starting treatment with Invisalign clear aligner therapy is an exciting time. You’re setting off on an adventure that will lead you to a straighter smile that’s fully functional, after all, and that’s something worth celebrating! However, it’s also normal to feel a little unsure about such a big commitment, especially if you don’t know much about the Invisalign system. Here at Shaw Orthodontics, it’s important to us that every patient feels confident in the trust they’ve placed in us. If you’ve decided to improve your oral health through Invisalign treatment, we want you to feel completely prepared and ready to get started! That’s why we’ve put together this Invisalign Survival Guide. If you want to learn more about what the Invisalign system is, how it works, and how you can get the most out of it, keep reading below.  

(Are you interested in Invisalign? Click here to find out if you’re a good candidate!)

What is the Invisalign clear aligner system?

Traditional braces are a fixed appliance that use brackets, wires, and bands to move the teeth over time. While the underlying function is the same, the Invisalign system is made up of a series of clear, removable aligners. These aligners are custom-made to fit snugly and comfortably over your teeth using a special thermoplastic resin. Because the Invisalign aligners are almost invisible, as well as removable, they offer more freedom and flexibility than traditional braces, making them an excellent alternative for many patients.

Invisalign aligners being put onto teeth

How do Invisalign aligners work?

Once Dr. Shaw has determined that Invisalign is a good fit for your smile, we’ll begin the process of custom designing aligners that will fit snugly but comfortably over your own teeth. A 3D scan of your teeth and gums will be taken and used to map out a precise treatment plan for you. This scan is highly detailed, and will include the exact movements we want your teeth to make. It will also give us some indication of how long we expect treatment to take.

We’ll then use the information from the scan to create your custom aligners. These are made from Invisalign’s special SmartTrack® material. The total number of aligners worn during treatment does vary quite a bit. Some patients may need as few as 12, while others might need 48 (or even more!) Treatment times will also vary on a case-by-case basis. The average tends to be somewhere between 5 and 15 months.

Because Invisalign aligners are removable and not fixed like braces, the system relies on your compliance to be successful! Once you receive your aligners, you’ll need to wear them for 20-22 hours every day, throughout the course of treatment. You’ll also need to make sure you’re switching your aligners out as directed by Dr. Shaw. This will generally be every 1-2 weeks. You probably won’t need to be seen as often as a braces patient, but regular check-ups are still part of the treatment process. We’ll schedule check-ups for you at our Rockwall or Watauga office every four to eight weeks or so.

Cleaning your Invisalign aligners

When it comes to cleaning your aligners, there are several different methods that are effective. There are also some things you should avoid! When it comes to keeping your trays in good shape, you’re safe to do the following:

  • Rinse your aligners when you remove them, since dry saliva and plaque can breed bacteria.
  • Soak your aligners using denture cleaner or Invisalign cleaning crystals to keep your trays clear and sanitized.
  • Brush and floss your teeth before you put your aligner back in. Harmful particles can get trapped between your teeth and your aligners, and proper oral hygiene will help prevent this.
  • Clean your aligners with a clear antibacterial soap to keep them fresh and free from harmful bacteria.
  • Brush your aligners gently and carefully. Brushing too hard can scratch your aligners and leave visible marks.

Invisalign comes with a lot of freedom, but there are still a few things you need to be aware of to make them last. While you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment with Invisalign, avoid doing any of the following, even if it seems like no big deal.

  • Don’t eat or drink anything but water while you’re wearing your aligners. Many foods and drinks can stain or discolor your aligners. Some can even cause odors.
  • Don’t use toothpaste to clean your aligners. Several brands contain abrasive agents that can make your teeth sparkle, but will dull your aligners or create small traps for bacteria.
  • Don’t leave your aligners exposed or unprotected when they’re not in your mouth, as this can expose them to harmful germs and bacteria. Rinse them, soak them, and then rinse them again before returning them to your mouth.
  • Don’t soak your aligners in any sort of mouthwash. And you might think it goes without saying since your aligners are plastic, but please don’t put them in heated liquid of any kind, either!

Keeping your teeth and gums clean with Invisalign

Invisalign’s removable aligners make it easy to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy! All you have to do is take out your aligner, then brush and floss just like your normally would. While we take oral hygiene seriously all the time, it’s especially important to have a good routine once you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment of any kind, including Invisalign. We recommend brushing at least twice a day for two minutes each time, and flossing every night before bed.

Although Invisalign doesn’t come with any of the food restrictions traditional braces do, you should still aim to avoid too much added sugar, as it can set the stage for tooth decay if you aren’t brushing thoroughly and regularly.

Who is a good candidate for Invisalign?

Invisalign has been designed to work with many of the most common orthodontic issues in teens and adults. There will be certain complicated or severe cases, however, that require more precise tooth control than a removable aligner is able to achieve. During your first visit with our practice, Dr. Shaw will be able to determine if Invisalign is a good fit for you, or if you’d be better suited for a more traditional orthodontic treatment.

Woman having her teeth check by an orthodontist

Once the treatment process is complete

Even after orthodontic treatment, your teeth will remember their previous place in your mouth, and keep drifting that way over time. That’s why retainers are so important! Once your treatment process is complete, Dr. Shaw will provide you with a retainer. You’ll need to wear this retainer exactly as directed in order to prevent this natural drifting and maintain your newly straightened smile.  

Invisalign is the clear choice for flexibility at Shaw Orthodontics

For our team here at Shaw Orthodontics, it’s important that your orthodontic experience is as enjoyable and stress-free as possible! While your Invisalign aligners may take a little getting used to, they’ll be just one more part of your daily routine before you know it. Plus our talented team is always here to help if you have any questions or concerns about your treatment plan!

If you’re in Rockwall, Watauga, or the surrounding areas and want more information on how Invisalign can improve your smile, give us a call today and schedule a consultation with Dr. Shaw. We’re excited to help you take the first step towards the beautiful smile you deserve!