The clear alternative

Article written by: Matthew Casey

Invisalign treatments use a series of near-invisible, clear aligners, which are custom-fabricated from a 3D CAD model of your teeth. The removable aligners are digitally CAM-produced and milled, providing a perfect fit for your teeth.

The aligners are worn for 20 to 22 hours per day – taken out for eating and cleaning. Changed every fortnight, each new aligner has the desired, in-built changes to facilitate correct tooth movement and position over time. Treatment duration on average is between 12 to 18 months for adults, depending on the complexity of your case and the experience of your practitioner.

Each aligner sees you progress to achieving your desired outcome with the use of low, slow forces, yielding a maximum of between 0.25 to 0.3mm of tooth. This amount of movement over the duration of your treatment creates ideal tooth alignment, position and aesthetics – without the need for conventional orthodontic brackets and wires. It is generally accepted that Invisalign is more comfortable, less intrusive, aesthetically more pleasing during treatment, and requires less appointments.

There is compelling evidence and literature, which may encourage you to consider this fast-evolving concept of clear “plastic” aligners that conform to your natural tooth shape. The treatment has gained acceptance among both patients and dentists alike. This is partly due to the aesthetic nature of the treatment, but also due to the marketing drive by parent company Align Technology.

There are clearly defined indications for the use of this treatment and it’s very important to consult your orthodontist or certified Invisalign dentist. I believe the treatment can help dentists educate patients away from the aggressive practice of cutting teeth and placing ceramic porcelain veneers. Porcelain ultimately fractures teeth and equates to real costs with maintenance and future replacements. Invisalign, alternatively, offers no to low biologic cost for your teeth and can allow for extra treatments in future, such as whitening, minimal resin bonding, or porcelain veneers with minimal to no tooth preparation. This really is a fundamental paradigm shift in aesthetic dentistry.

Traditionally, dentists would cut or saw down teeth to achieve “instant makeovers” for the aesthetically demanding patient. This treatment can yield amazing, beautiful results in a short period of time. However, there is often significant trauma to the tooth, loss of hard tooth tissue to achieve such a result, and ongoing higher costs. Invisalign can now offer a less aggressive, less tooth-traumatic cosmetic result. This can only be better for the tooth, patient and treating dentist.

We have an ageing population and must conserve tooth structure, especially since enamel cannot be reliably regenerated in the clinical setting. As a dentist I know what I would prefer – now it’s up to you.