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Pros and Cons of Invisalign

Pros and Cons of Invisalign

Dr. Michael Layton
December 4, 2014

It is the purpose of this article to present the pro’s and con’s of Invisalign in equal measure. The Invisalign system is an aesthetic alternative orthodontic system that makes use of individualized thermoformed polycarbonate overlay appliances called aligners.

To obtain best results, your D.D.S. (Doctor of Dental Surgery) will plan your treatment in advance. Before your treatment commences, the fabrication of a series of aligners corresponding to the desired treatment is your first initial step towards straight teeth.invisalign - invisible alternative to braces

Invisalign treatments bring together the best qualities of removable and fixed appliances to control and minimize imperfect or misaligned tooth movements.

A qualified D.D.S. will have a thorough understanding of teeth movements and the biomechanics of aligners. More severe forms of dental work may require you to wear traditional metal braces. Direct bonding metal braces have been around since the mid 1970s, this was the common way to straighten most peoples teeth for several decades before Invisalign was introduced.

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign uses custom made aligners made specifically for you. Aligners trays are made of a smooth, comfortable nearly invisible plastic that fit over your teeth. The function of the aligners is to gradually shift your teeth into place, based on a schedule designed by your D.D.S. There are no protruding metal brackets to bond to your teeth and no wires to tighten. Your dental practitioner will provide multiple aligners on a weekly or monthly basis until your teeth are straightened out.

The Inner Workings of Invisalign Aligners

  • Not all dental care physicians are created equal

Not all dentists and D.D.S.’s work with custom made aligners like Invisalign. Finding an qualified practitioner that is trained in both traditional braces and Invisalign is the first step on your journey to having aligned teeth. These doctors will best be able to determine whether Invisalign or traditional braces is best for you.

  • Individual Treatment Plan

Your D.D.S. will take X-rays, pictures and impressions of your teeth. A digital 3D image will then be used to manufacture the correct Invisalign fit for you. Your dental care provider will use the 3D image to show how your teeth will appear at each stage of treatment. The duration of time per Invisalign wearer varies from person to person. Treatment times can take a year for adults, for teens the duration of time is comparable to traditional braces.

  • Customized Plastic Aligners

Individual treatment plans differ from person to person, a series of custom made clear aligners are manufactured per individual.

For those people concerned about the byproducts of plastic there is no need to worry. The plastic used in clear aligners is non toxic and will not irritate the inner lining of the mouth.

  • Replacement Aligners

Your D.D.S. will schedule when your aligners need to replaced based on your specific requirements. Each set of individual aligners will advance your next stage of treatment. For optimum results aligners should be worn for 20 to 22 hours per day, for the duration of your treatment.

The Plus and Minuses of Invisalign Treatment

  • Advantage - Being able to reduce plaque accumulation is easy with the removal of aligners, this contributes to improved periodontal health for Invisalign wearers.  One of the main advantages for Invisalign wearers is the flexibility of being able to remove the aligners for cleaning purposes. Invisalign cleaning systems can also be purchased for additional dental hygiene.
  • Disadvantage - Patients withlarge gap tooth spacing more than 5 mm per arch are not good candidates for Invisalign aligners.
  • Advantage - Prospective patients can view the end results of future corrective dental work with the aid of 3D imaging dental CAD (computer aided programs) technology. Viewing a computer simulation provides patients with the necessary incentive to consider Invisalign to correct present dental issues.
  • Disadvantage - The Invisalign appliance is not effective in treating people with severe deep overbites (upper and lower mandibles) and skeletal based malocclusions. Treatment time can vary between the initial appointment and delivery of a patients first aligners. Modifications required between aligner treatments will increase treatment times per patient.
  • Advantage - Future Invisalign patients who are planning on having any dental restoration work should delay. Cosmetically altered teeth will alter the fit of the transparent aligners.
  • Disadvantage - People with the following dental issues may opt for traditional braces: patients with severely rotated teeth more than 20 degrees can not be corrected with aligners, people with arches missing multiple teeth. The Invisalign aligner is a removable appliance, this makes it ineffective in its goal to precisely control tooth movements.
  • Advantage - People notice your smile not your braces. For people who are sensitive about how they look this is a major plus, especially if your vocation demands a certain aesthetic look.
  • Disadvantage - Invisalign aligners cost more than traditional fixed braces. Health care plans do not usually cover the cost of this cosmetic dentistry.
  • Advantage - Invisalign wearers are not limited to eating certain foods unlike traditional brace wearers. You have the option of removing your aligner tray to eat what you want when you want.
  • Advantage - Orthodontic braces are made from stainless steel, nickel titanium, full titanium and gold plated stainless steel. Certain people are sensitive and even allergic to the metal used in traditional braces. Invisalign aligners are made from an FDA approved polymer. Traditional metal braces can scratch the inside of the mouth and gums. The plastic used in Invisalign aligners is smooth and irritant free.

Clinical Research of Invisalign

Only two clinical trials have been published. The first trial was a feasibility study with 38 patients. It had with methodological limitations concerning patient selection (nonrandomized and limited sample size per group). The researchers also failed to report precise malocclusion characteristics with respect to the amount of crowding and other parameters. Nevertheless, they concluded that patients whose permanent dentition has mild-to-moderate malocclusions may benefit from this treatment. They also suggested that prospective, controlled clinical trials with adequate sample sizes, increased record base and the use of objective assessment methods such as occlusal indexes should be used to evaluate outcomes with Invisalign.

- Manuel O. Lagravere, D.D.S., M.Sc. and Carlos Flores-Mir, D.D.S., M.Sc., Cert. Orth., Ph.D

Comfort and Near Invisibility

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) stated that Invisalign therapy should be considered an alternative for esthetically demanding patients. People who experience speech impairments from other oral care alignment therapies  are recommended to use Invisalign.


Looking and feeling great is the main reason for seeking out Invisalign. Being able to see the gradual progression of your teeth straightening also gives patients a self esteem boost. Invisalign therapy is not right for treating severe forms of malocclusions but it can treat mild to moderate cases.

The new SmartTrack aligner material being used in Invisalign trays has the following features: more constant force, higher elasticity, a more precise fit and improved comfort over the former material used.

The evolution of Invisalign aligners continue to evolve as the technology advances. Most of the findings regarding aligners are from published case studies. Individual results vary from person to person, for an accurate assessment consult your dentist or D.D.S. Non medical peer journals are not evaluated based on quantifiable data that is backed up by experts.

Prime candidates for Invisalign differ from person to person. If you are already a good candidate for traditional braces Invisalign therapy may be right for you. Give us call or send us an email to book your complimentary consultation.

About Dr. Michael Layton

Dr. Michael Layton - South Surrey DentistDr. Michael Layton (DDS) is the dentist for Peace Arch Dental, a dental office in the South Surrey/White Rock, B.C. area. He has been in the dental industry for the last decade and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington. He takes pride in providing positive and caring dental solutions (including Invisalign) for people in the South Surrey/White Rock area. You can follow him on Google+.

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