How Does Invisalign Treatment Move Teeth?
While millions of people around the world have already undergone Invisalign treatment to improve their smiles, many prospective patients still have questions about Invisalign. With metal braces having been the only treatment for so long, it only makes sense that people are curious about Invisalign clear aligners and how they move teeth successfully.
Align Technology and the Introduction of Invisalign Aligners
If you’re not familiar with how Invisalign treatment works, it’s likely that you’re unfamiliar with the history of Invisalign. It can be very comforting to know the treatment’s history because it proves that Invisalign isn’t a fly-by-night treatment that’s here today only to be gone tomorrow.
Invisalign was created by five individuals who founded Align Technology way back in 1997. The company’s founders gathered in a duplex located in Redwood City, CA with one goal. Their shared objective was to leverage technology to reposition and straighten teeth.
Two years later, Invisalign clear aligners made their debut. Since 1999, Invisalign aligners have been used to help more than 6.4 million patients across the globe, including over 1.5 million teenagers.
How Teeth Move during Orthodontic Treatments
Many people who are knowledgeable about Invisalign will refer to the aligners used during treatment as Invisalign braces or invisible braces. Both ways of referring to the aligners are accurate because they’re from Invisalign and they’re a nearly invisible way to correct imperfect smiles. In fact, a strong case can be made that, compared to conventional braces, Invisalign aligners are as close to invisible as they can get.
Calling Invisalign aligners braces is also reasonable because they move teeth similarly to how conventional braces do. The goal of both traditional braces and Invisalign treatment is to move teeth into proper position over time, not overnight. While that’s the case, people who choose Invisalign can sometimes expedite their results by wearing their aligners for the recommended 22 hours per day. By comparison, people who opt for conventional braces are powerless to speed up their results.
To understand how Invisalign aligners reposition teeth, it can be quite helpful to familiarize yourself with some biology basics. A periodontal ligament is what connects teeth to your jawbone. This ligament is made up of a group of fibers that contain collagen, which is a type of protein. The ligament’s fibers are what serve as an anchor that secures your teeth to the underlying bone.
The collagen fibers attach to root surfaces by depositing what’s appropriately referred to as cementum into living cells on one side of the bone. The fibers on the other side of your periodontal ligament insert themselves into your jawbone. In essence, your ligament’s fibers create a sling around your teeth that holds them in place while permitting limited movement as your teeth respond to the forces involved with biting.
Things Are Constantly Changing
While your smile may look the same every time you glance in the mirror, the truth is that it’s in constant flux despite its static appearance. To grasp this more easily, you may want to think of your teeth as a collective remodeling project that’s being worked on around the clock day-in and day-out.
While you may not be able to tell, your teeth are dynamic. They change because your periodontal ligament, cementum and jawbone react to changing pressures in your mouth. When you bite down, it causes tension and compression which are relayed to your ligament through its many protein fibers. Tension results in deposits of cementum being made in the bone. Compression, on the other hand, is the resorption or dissolution of bone and cementum. These oppositional things happen to maintain balance and keep your teeth in position.
Using Natural Processes to Relocate Teeth
Invisalign treatment works because it uses the natural processes that are already happening in your mouth. Invisalign aligners gently capture the forces of tension and compression and manipulate them to reposition teeth slowly and gently over time. The movement brought about by Invisalign clear aligners is preceded by resorption of the bone and cementum. The movement also follows the deposit of new bone.
In general, you’ll get a new set of Invisalign aligners every two weeks throughout the duration of your custom Invisalign treatment. Each new set of invisible braces you receive can move your teeth .25mm within the first three days you wear them. While that’s impressive, it’s important to understand that figure only represents the movement of your periodontal ligament in most cases. It doesn’t account for the movement of bone.
You bone must move for the repositioning of your teeth to last because your bone is what will hold your teeth in their new position. Because it can take up to two weeks for your ligament’s fibers to apply enough cementum to attach to your bone in a new position, patients typically have to wear each set of Invisalign aligners for two weeks.
As you probably guessed, the new position your teeth occupy can be difficult to maintain. If you don’t wear your Invisalign braces for the required length of time each day, it greatly increases the chances that you’ll experience a relapse or reverse movement of your teeth. If that happens, it can prolong the length of your Invisalign treatment and postpone the much-anticipated debut of your best smile.
For your Invisalign treatment to be as effective as possible and for each set of aligners to do its job, it’s crucial for you to wear your Invisalign clear aligners for the length of time your orthodontist or dentist recommends. As a general rule, that will be 20 – 22 hours every day. To play it safe, it’s usually wise to only remove your aligners when you eat, brush, floss and clean your aligners, but to leave them in the rest of the time.
For the Results You Want, Visit Clearsmile Orthodontics
Whether you’re interested in Invisalign for adults or teens, you can get the results you’re hoping for at Clearsmile Orthodontics. A proven Invisalign orthodontist with specialized training, Dr. Colin Webb will create a customized Invisalign treatment plan for you or your teenager.
Don’t hide your smile any longer! Let us create a plan for you that will allow you to show off your best smile everywhere you go. Visit Clearsmile Orthodontics to learn more today.