The Invisalign system uses a series of clear, thin, plastic trays that are custom-made to apply pressure to your teeth to move them into improved alignment a fraction of a millimetre at a time.
First an impression or scan of your teeth and bite record is taken and sent to Invisalign to allow 3D CAD-CAM computer imaging technology to map your dentition. Your specialist uses this to design your individual tooth movements from start to finish, the most important component of Invisalign treatment. From this plan, a series of custom-made aligners unique to your treatment is produced.
Each aligner is worn for about two weeks and gradually moves your teeth, before being replaced by the next in the series until the final position is achieved. With Invisalign you will need to visit your orthodontist approximately every six weeks for adjustments, to check progress and to receive new sets of aligners to continue the straightening process.
For some movements, small tooth coloured attachments will need to be placed on some teeth to aid retention and allow the aligners to grip your teeth.
The total number of aligners needed is specific to you and is determined by the severity of your malocclusion and the goals of your treatment. It is not usually possible to determine the full number of aligners that will be needed until late in the treatment process.
These aligners are removable during eating and are easier to clean than braces. They are, however, only suitable for patients who are significantly motivated and self-disciplined as they must be worn 22 hours every day, otherwise the treatment process will be greatly slowed or ineffective.
The disadvantages are they often take longer than traditional braces, and some patients still need a short period of regular braces following the aligner treatment. While this type of treatment can be effective for aligning teeth, it is less effective for correcting bite problems.