The Invisalign Journey from Start to Finish

18th Feb 2021
Invisalign is a hugely popular teeth straightening treatment that uses clear braces to align your teeth discreetly, but how does it work and what can you expect from treatment?

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Teeth straightening can be a simultaneously thrilling and daunting prospect. There’s the hope of a winning smile… and then there’s the image of unsightly wire braces seared into our collective memory. It can be a process so long and tedious you’d wonder whether the results justify all the trouble.

This is why we make a big deal about Invisalign - you no longer have to earn your dream smile the hard way. 

The treatment offers a solution that does away with the major bugbears of traditional braces - you can now straighten your teeth with almost invisible, removable aligners, and get the results you want in a fraction of the time it takes with traditional braces.

If you are considering straightening your teeth, it makes sense to do your research, so we’ll explain how Invisalign works and share the treatment journey with you here so you know what to expect.

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is a dental treatment that uses clear braces or aligners to straighten your teeth discreetly. You wear a series of custom fit aligners, each for around 1-2 weeks at a time, to progressively move your teeth to their ideal position. Treatment can take as little as 12 weeks compared to traditional braces which can take years.

The added bonus is that aligners are removable so you can eat and drink as normal and clean your teeth well.
You may be looking for the catch, but Invisalign is a treatment provided by dentists that has been shown to safely create lasting results.

Now let’s jump into the treatment process. 

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Before Treatment

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The Consultation

The Invisalign process is tailored to you from end to end. You’ll first have a consultation with a dentist to discuss your ideal smile and treatment goals, as well as explain the treatment process and finance options. You may even find that there are alternative treatments that can get you the smile you want without aligners, such as veneers or composite bonding.  

Pre-treatment assessments

To know where you’re going, you have to know where you are, so before you start your Invisalign journey your dentist will detail the current location of your teeth and the general health of your mouth. Before straightening your teeth it’s important to do a pre-assessment to fully visualise any pre-existing issues or abnormalities that need to be taken into account, this is because:  

- you may need to have the abnormality treated first e.g. hidden abscesses, cavities and gum disease
- you need to be aware that there could be an increased risk of side effects - e.g. teeth with pre-existing short roots could shorten further with teeth straightening treatment and become wobbly
- your dentist needs to know which teeth not to move to avoid trouble later down the line e.g. implants  

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Check up

Your dentist will advise a check up if you haven’t had one within the last 6 months to check the health of your teeth and gums, and screen for decay and oral cancer.

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3D scan or impressions

Your dentist will use an Itero scanner to show your smile in 3D or take impressions. The itero scanner can show you a preview of how your teeth could look straightened- so you can try before you buy.

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Orthopantomogram 

 Or OPG is a special x-ray you'll need to have before teeth straightening treatment. It shows a panoramic view of all your teeth on one film to check for any abnormalities like short roots.

ClinCheck (Treatment Plan)

Your dentist will send off your 3D scan or impression and any specific requirements you have to Invisalign to create your personalised treatment plan called a Clincheck.
The ClinCheck shows you a detailed view on how your smile will transform week by week, the length of treatment and adjustments (pre-treatments) needed to prepare your teeth for aligners - think of this as your roadmap for your Invisalign journey.

Costs

Generally speaking Invisalign can cost between £1,500 - £7,000. At Loughton Dental Centre we offer packages to ensure that you always make a saving, these cost between £2,500 - £3,800 with retainers and home whitening always included. We also offer discounts with Invisalign on specialist Vivera retainers and Enlighten whitening (guarantees B1, the best shade) so you get more out of your smile and more value for money. To make it that much easier for you we also offer 0% finance to spread the cost. 

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During Treatment

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Teeth Movements

To know what to expect during Invisalign treatment, you’ll need to know how it works, so here’s a quick lesson on teeth straightening.

There are two different ways to move teeth:
1. Tipping - moving just the visible part of the teeth backward or forward, this can be done quickly to make teeth look straighter but has a high rate of relapse (moving back)
2. Bodily movement - moving the whole tooth, crown and root - this may be slower but generally has more permanent effects.

Most dentists agree that bodily movement is the way to go to achieve long lasting results.  



Adjustments prepare your teeth for aligners, allowing them to work effectively

Adjustments
In comparison to tipping, for bodily movement to happen, you need to have space to allow whole teeth to slide around each other. Where necessary, space can be created through interproximal reduction (IPR) and teeth extractions (see below).
Space can also be created through arch expansion. This is achieved by aligners themselves which can move your teeth outward making your smile more 



attractive by reducing crowding and making more teeth visible when you smile.
Interproximal reduction (IPR) and Teeth extractions are adjustments your dentist makes to prepare your teeth for aligners, allowing them to work effectively.
The third type of adjustments are attachments which help to guide teeth movements.

Interproximal Reduction

Tiny amounts (small fractions a millimetre) of enamel are shaved away between teeth using a special file. This allows just enough space for your teeth to slide past each other

Teeth Extractions

If necessary, your dentist may remove teeth that are not visible when you smile in order to reduce crowding and create space for the aligners to move your teeth. 

Attachments

Small tooth-coloured bumps (barely visible) that are bonded to your teeth for the duration of treatment which act as grips for aligners to help them move your teeth to their desired locations.

Wearing Aligners

You’ll wear your aligners for between 20-22 hours a day, taking them off only to clean your teeth and eat and drink. The good thing about Invisalign is that you can eat all the things you have to avoid with traditional braces like nuts and apples.
Every 2-4 weeks you’ll move on to the next set of aligners - they’ll always feel tight at first but this is a sign your teeth are moving!
You’ll also have regular appointments with your dentist every 2-4 weeks to monitor your progress and make any changes necessary to keep your teeth movements on track.
Typically treatment lasts between 3- 9 months.

End of Treatment

After your last set of aligners your dentist will remove your attachments - your new smile is finally here!
  

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After Treatment

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To help you maintain your smile and make the transition to retainers easier, we include them in your treatment package at Loughton Dental Centre

Retainers
The fact is that teeth can move - the very thing that makes teeth straightening possible, can lead to relapse later down the line. We would all love the story to end with getting the dream smile, but like anything worth keeping, you have to maintain your teeth alignment. This is where retainers come in, broadly speaking there are two types:

1. Removable retainers - usually worn at night
2. Fixed retainers - bonded on the side of your 
teeth facing your tongue (not visible to others)


It’s recommended that you get both types to minimise the risk of relapse as much as possible. 

Finishing touches
Straight teeth go a long way to bring out a charming smile, but to make it really stand out your dentist can offer you teeth whitening or enamel to reshape some teeth. Our packages at Loughton Dental Centre include these extras to complete your transformation and make you a saving. 

The Final Word on Invisalign

Straightening your teeth doesn’t have to be the long drawn out process it once was. Invisalign still gives you attention to detail and a tailor made experience but with faster results than traditional braces. It also allows you to have all your usual comforts - eating, drinking, and let’s face it - smiling without the constant reminder of braces. Invisalign can make your journey to your dream smile a smoother one.