Are you looking for alternatives to clunky, traditional braces? Here at The Happy Tooth of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, we’re proud to feature Invisalign as an alternative to traditional metal braces. But many of our patients wonder if traditional braces work faster or if using aligners will result in delays.
Fortunately, if you follow our instructions, you can straighten your teeth in the same amount of time as with traditional braces.
How Long Does Invisalign Take to Straighten Teeth?
There are several variables to consider. The overall time depends largely on how much correction is needed to achieve the desired result. Some cases may be fixed in a year, while others could require up to two years or even slightly more in very complex cases. However, as you will see, the method you choose to correct your smile has little impact on how long it takes.
How Does an Orthodontist Straighten Teeth?
It’s a common misconception that somehow systems such as Invisalign work differently from traditional braces. In reality, they perform the same task using the same underlying mechanism: constant pressure. Constant pressure is the key to straightening your teeth and delivering the smile of your dreams.
The position of each tooth can be altered simply by providing constant pressure in the direction we want the tooth to go. Over time, your teeth will shift into place and settle into their new position. Once your orthodontics have been removed, we recommend using a retainer for a few months to keep your teeth from shifting out of place.
Comparing Invisalign to Traditional Braces
Traditional braces require a bracket on each individual tooth. These brackets are connected by a wire. When tension is applied to the wire, it creates that constant pressure across all of your teeth. While this method is effective, it’s not without its drawbacks.
First, many people find metal braces uncomfortable. They can make eating certain foods difficult. They also take some time to get used to. People of all ages may also be embarrassed by having to wear braces in public.
Although ceramic braces can help to camouflage the brackets, these too have some of the same disadvantages of metal braces. Invisalign, on the other hand, solves many of these problems and creates hardly any of its own.
Advantages of Aligners
Aligners are the plastic mouthpieces that you receive throughout your orthodontics regimen. Instead of gradually tightening a wire, you will receive a new set of aligners every 2-4 weeks. Each aligner is slightly different from the last, which creates the constant pressure needed to shift your teeth into position.
Aligners are created using a very advanced scientific process. A mold of your mouth is taken at the beginning of the process. This is then put into a 3D scanner and a 3D model of your mouth is constructed. Next, a model of your final smile is built. The computer then fills in the gaps between the start and finish and creates a mold for each aligner.
By far, the biggest advantage of aligners is that they are more comfortable than metal braces. You don’t have to worry about snagging your cheek on a piece of metal. Because they are modeled after your mouth, they take up less space than metal braces.
Since you can remove them when you eat, you should find that meals are more comfortable without traditional braces. You won’t have to worry about what foods you can and cannot eat, nor will there be any difficulty chewing or swallowing.
Clear plastic is less notorious than metal brackets with colorful rubber bands. Even ceramic braces can’t beat aligners in terms of their stealth. While you will need a bit of time to get used to the feeling of aligners, they don’t impair speech as much as braces do. Overall, you should feel more confident and satisfied with your appearance while using aligners.
Fewer Trips to the Orthodontist
Once the initial mold of your mouth has been taken, you won’t need to visit the orthodontist quite as frequently when you use Invisalign. Of course, we want to make sure that your orthodontics are working as expected, so you will still need to come in for periodic checkups. However, you won’t need to have your wire tightened by a professional.
Instead, your new aligners can be mailed directly to you! This makes Invisalign a great choice for people who live far from the orthodontist’s office. And if you’re concerned about frequent visits to the office given the current pandemic, staying at home and receiving your mail ensures your safety.
What to Watch Out for
Although an Invisalign correction can be completed in as little as a year or two, there are potential problems that can prolong the process. Fortunately, most of these are well within your control. What’s more, these issues also apply to traditional braces, as we will explain.
Most people who get orthodontics are children, teens, or young adults. If you are considering orthodontics for your child, you should make sure to have a talk with them about personal responsibility. This is even more true when using aligners.
When it comes to traditional braces, the main rules are to avoid hard candy, which can break brackets, and to avoid things like chewing gum that can become tangled in the metal and hard to remove. Aside from that, general oral hygiene rules apply. Traditional brackets are fairly easy for children to take care of.
With aligners, your child has the ability to actually remove the aligner at any time. While this is fine for a meal, if you’re not vigilant, you may find that your child has been leaving them out too long. Make sure to keep an eye on this, especially in the first few months while your child builds up the habit of using their aligners responsibly.
Most people who get braces will probably break a bracket or knock one off a tooth. Fortunately, aligners are much harder to break. Although the plastic is rigid, it is also quite durable. However, if the patient has a tendency to grind their teeth or clench frequently, this can cause aligners to break.
Talk to your dentist and orthodontist about this if you notice signs of bruxism: that is, jaw clenching and tooth grinding. We can help you decide if using aligners is the best course.
Losing an Aligner
Although we rarely encounter cases of missing aligners, it does happen. Most commonly, they are accidentally left behind at a restaurant or at a relative’s house. Usually, you can get them back within a day or two and resume your treatment with little to no setback.
If you lose an aligner and cannot find it anywhere, you’ll need to contact our office. We can determine exactly which aligner needs to be replaced and can order a new one. Of course, while you are waiting for it to arrive, you won’t be making any progress on your new smile. Still, this would only add at most a week or two to your total treatment time.
Making the Most of Your Orthodontics
As you can see, the method you choose to correct your teeth won’t make a significant difference in terms of how long the process takes. Ultimately, it comes down to your dedication and supervision. When patients use their aligners diligently, only taking them out to eat and brush their teeth, the results are as good as anything traditional braces can offer.
When using orthodontics, your oral hygiene is more important than ever. Brush your teeth regularly, especially right after meals before replacing your aligners. Doing this will reduce the risk of complications that could slow down your progress.
Curious About Correcting Your Teeth?
If you would like to know more about Invisalign and see if it is right for you, contact The Happy Tooth of Chapel Hill, NC. With more than 10 offices in North Carolina and Southern Virginia, you’ll be sure to find a location close to home. Our staff is looking forward to answering your questions and putting you on the path to a perfect smile.