Using the Invisalign® system to straighten your teeth is an investment. Considering that most teeth will last for the rest of your life, it is an important investment to make. Since there is a commitment, there are two things that you will be committing to. First, you will need to follow the treatment path and second, you will need to understand that straightening your teeth takes time. Invisalign®, much like conventional braces, takes time to straighten out the defects in your teeth. Using a push method, where the system coaxes and applies limited pressure on the teeth, Invisalign® gradually moves your teeth out of the misaligned position they have taken, into a better place. To do this, we use a series of aligners, which fit over your teeth, to move the teeth at the rate of .25 millimeters every two weeks. This gradual process ensures that no trauma comes to the teeth and also makes it easier for the teeth to stay in place once they are completely moved.
On average, Invisalign® takes 12 months to complete a treatment. There are exceptions. We have had patients who have completed their treatment in as little as 6 months, and others who needed extensive work stretch the treatment for two and even three years. We will discuss your personal timeline after an examination.
With Invisalign®, as with all systems, there is a completion and a maintenance aspect to the procedure. There are two main pieces to the finishing touches and maintenance that you will need to be aware of. The first is the use of refinements. The refinements are precisely what they sound like, a finishing step after you have completed your alignments. Very often, having completed the procedure, a patient will find that they want minor adjustments made. At other times, we will want to make these minor adjustments so that you will have the best alignment possible. In order to do this, we will have you come to the clinic and be measured again, and then we will send out for a set of refinement aligners that work exactly the same way as the regular aligners. The important thing to note about refinement aligners is that they are designed for finishing touches and minor adjustments. If you chose to let some time pass between the regular aligners and the refinements, they may not be as effective.
The most important maintenance piece that you will need to follow is the use of your retainer. When teeth are aligned, using either Invisalign® or braces, there is a potential for them to slip backwards after some time. We want to avoid this since it could undo all the good work you have accomplished with your Invisalign® aligners. To do so, we will prescribe a retainer that needs to be worn nightly. We cannot stress enough how important this is. In the same vein as you were required to wear your Invisalign® aligners 20 – 22 hours every day to get the results you wanted, wearing your retainer will maintain those results.
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