When Should You Consider Invisalign Instead of Braces?

Bobbi Stanley, DDS, of Cary and Holly Springs, NC, says that while certain, more complicated cases require traditional braces, “Just about anyone who wants to have his or her teeth moved is a candidate for Invisalign.”

How Invisalign works

Pamela Doray, an AACD member dentist from Philadelphia, PA, gives a quick overview of the Invisalign process: “Invisalign works through a series of clear ‘nearly invisible’ plastic aligners that the patient wears.  Aligners are worn [approximately] 22 hours a day (removing only to eat, floss and brush).”

“Typically,” Dr. Doray says, “each aligner is worn for 2 weeks, at which time the patient changes to a new aligner.  The patient receives a few sets of aligners at a time, returning to the dentist for evaluation and the next set of aligners at the appropriate interval.  Depending on the amount of orthodontic correction needed, the patient may have anywhere from 4 to 50 aligners.  The length of treatment depends on the number of aligners.”

Invisalign may be the answer for you if:

  1. You want to straighten teeth, close gaps or spaces, correct misalignment. “Invisalign can benefit [almost] everyone, from teenagers to the elderly and for people who may need subtle adjustments or those with more complex movements necessary, says Debra Gray King, DDS, Atlanta, GA.  “Invisalign is great for treating teeth that have spaces in between or over-crowded.  In addition, Invisalign can be used to reduce more complicated issues that include overbites, underbites, and cross-bites.”
  2. You want a nearly clear, removable option to straighten your smile.
    Many people choose the retainer-like process because, Dr. Stanley says, “The pros to Invisalign are that they are [nearly] invisible, easy to clean and can easily be removed for eating and brushing.”
    “Anyone who is concerned with how their smile would look with brackets [of traditional metal braces] should at least consider seeing if they are a candidate for Invisalign,” offers Elizabeth Lowery, DDS, an AACD member dentist in Austin, TX.
  3. You will be dedicated to your Invisalign treatment.
    If your dentist has determined that Invisalign is the right choice for you, you “will need to be dedicated to getting [your] teeth straight and will need to make sure to listen to the dentist,” says Stanley.
  4. Agrees Doray, “The best patient candidates are those who are highly motivated and will be compliant with wearing the aligners as prescribed.”
  5. You have periodontal disease or are concerned about proper gum care.
    Says Doray, “Invisalign is an excellent choice for patients with periodontal concerns, due to the controlled minor tooth movement and the ability to floss and clean the teeth normally with the aligners out (as long as the periodontal disease has been treated).”
  6. You have had braces in the past, but need a touch-up.
    Another ideal candidate for Invisalign, says Dr. Lowery: “Someone who has already been through traditional braces and has relapsed a little by not wearing his or her retainer.”
  7. You have a complicated case that can’t be initially treated with Invisalign.
    Dr. Brian LeSage, DDS, of Beverly Hills, CA, “You might be a candidate for a hybrid case—complete part of your orthodontics in [traditional bracket braces] and part in Invisalign.”
  8. You have had or are having cosmetic dental procedures.
    “As a cosmetic dentist, “ says Doray, “I often [use] Invisalign treatment as an adjunct to my cosmetic treatment, allowing me to set up the case and align the teeth for optimal cosmetic procedures such as crowns and veneers.”