Happy New Year! It's that time again...We resolve to make improvements and challenge ourselves to finally act on those things we've been thinking about doing for so long. If you've thought about straightening your teeth but are nervous or have some questions about the procedure, we have the answers! Below is a list of our most frequently asked Invisalign questions, answered by our very own Dr. Rick Bankhead. If you have any other questions please leave a comment or call the office and we'll be happy to help you!
1) Besides the cosmetic improvement, is there any other benefit to Invisalign?
Invisalign is often thought of as a cosmetic procedure, but it can definitely improve your dental health. When you fix overlapping or “crooked” teeth, you can floss easier and do a better job of flossing. Your gums and bones will be healthier for it, and you’ll keep your smile beautiful and healthy for a long time.
2) Is Invisalign treatment right for me?
Invisalign is an orthdontic treatment that can be used to correct your bite, or purely for cosmetic reasons. Although we have helped many patients through Invisalign, we do occasionally refer patients to local orthodontists. Sometimes a patient will benefit more from traditional braces. Dr. Rick Bankhead or Dr. Stuart MacDonald would be happy to see you for a consultation to assess whether you are a candidate for Invisalign.
3) Does insurance cover Invisalign?
It really depends on the insurance plan. A dental plan can have a rider for orthodontic coverage. Sometimes it only covers minor dependents, sometimes it covers everybody who is listed on the plan. If your insurance coverage does cover orthodontics, it will cover a portion of your Invisalign treatment.
If you do not have orthodontic coverage, there are several financial options available. If your employer offers a “flexible spending account” or a “cafeteria plan” you can use those benefits toward Invisalign treatment. We also work with CareCredit and Chase Health Advance. Those are financing companies that offer interest-free payment plans for up to 24 months. Once you verify you are a candidate, the front desk will discuss insurance benefits and payment options with you.
4) What makes Invisalign better than traditional braces?
Invisalign can often achieve the same effect as traditional braces. The major benefit of Invisalign is that a patient’s home care routine isn’t affected. With traditional braces, the wires and brackets make brushing and flossing more difficult. Patients are not able to do a good a job keeping their teeth clean. With Invisalign, there is nothing between your teeth and your toothbrush and floss. Your daily home care routine can continue uninterrupted because the aligners come right out. Our patients have even noted an improvement in their brushing and flossing habits because they had to do it after every meal (see # 6). Many of them have kept the (healthy!) habit long after treatment had ended.
5) How long does the treatment take?
The length of treatment varies by the individual case. On average treatment can take as little as 16 weeks, or roughly between 4 and 18 months. Invisalign will designate a certain number of aligner trays for your case. Typically, you wear each aligner for two weeks, then you go on to the next in series. You wear the trays constantly; the only time you remove the trays is when you eat, brush, and floss. Compliance is the key here. If you keep the trays in and stay on schedule, the treatment will successfully fly by.
6) Is it painful?
Invisalign is a bit similar to traditional braces in this respect. For the first couple days after putting in a new aligner, your teeth will probably feel tight and might feel an ache. The tenderness is comparable to tightening traditional braces, but not as bad. The movements are done more often, every two weeks, making it less painful than traditional braces.
7) Are there any eating restrictions?
You can eat whatever you like, but you do have to be meticulous about caring for your teeth after. Before you eat, you’ll need to remove your aligners.You can only drink non-caloric beverages (ie water, flavored water, black coffee) without removing your aligners. If you eat or drink anything else, you must take the aligners out. Once you’re finished eating, brush and floss your teeth before putting your aligners back in. This needs to be your new routine every time you eat because it ensures your aligners stay clean. A fair number of our patients reported that they were less inclined to snack during the day. They ended their treatment with straighter teeth and a few pounds lighter - a healthier smile in more ways than one!
8) Will wearing the aligners affect my speech?
Not at all. The trays are a very thin material and don’t get in the way of speaking. You might need a day or so to become accustomed to the feeling. None of our patients reported speech issues while wearing the trays.
9) How do I keep the aligner trays clean?
Clean the trays with warm water and a little bit of soap. Do not use hot water! Hot water can warp the trays and they won’t fit right. You can also purchase a cleaning kit from Invisalign’s website.
10) What happens if I lose an aligner?If you lose or damage an aligner and are unable to wear it, call us immediately. We will have to order a new aligner tray from Invisalign. In the meantime, wear the most recent aligner you have. For example, if you lose aligner # 5, wear aligner # 4 until the new aligner comes in or the dentist gives you further instructions. This will probably set back your treatment by a week or two. It’s best if you’re careful about putting the trays away when eating, keeping them out of reach of pets and children, etc.