If you are looking into orthodontic treatment, you might be feeling a little lost in the myriad of options available today. Amongst choices such as ceramic, lingual, and metal braces, we also have Invisalign, a form of clear aligners that is primarily known for its near-invisible look.
The innovation behind Invisalign makes it possible to fix nearly all common teeth misalignments with minimal disruption to everyday life, but as with all other types of orthodontic treatments, there are still pros and cons to consider.
There are several clear aligner brands in Singapore, including Zenyum, ClearCorrect and Aurora. For the sake of this article, we’ll be focusing on Invisalign, one of the more popular clear aligner systems.
What is Invisalign, and how does it work?
Invisalign is a form of clear aligners made of a patented blend of plastic. Like other forms of braces, these aligners assert pressure on your teeth to slowly move them into a better position.
Though Invisalign is a solid piece of plastic, they are not to be confused with retainers because the former actively moves your teeth to reshape your mouth and jaw, whilst retainers simply hold your teeth in place.
What is the process of getting Invisalign in Singapore like?
To get Invisalign treatment, you’ll first have a consultation with your dentist. They’ll study your smile, observe your oral health, and take 3D images and impressions of your mouth and jaw.
After the necessary records are taken, a series of customised aligners will be made for you. A set of Invisalign aligner trays are usually worn for one to two weeks and replaced with the next set. Each will feel slightly different, as they’re each designed to continually shift your teeth.
Your dentist will serve as your partner and guide in helping you achieve the dental results you desire.
Types of malocclusions Invisalign aligners can correct
Invisalign not only corrects crooked teeth, but it also corrects malocclusions.
Malocclusion refers to the improper way your upper and lower teeth fit when you bite down. This usually occurs when your teeth are crowded, meaning your teeth are too large for your mouth, or crooked. It can also refer to misaligned upper jaw and lower jaws, and while most malocclusions are treated with orthodontics or braces, some serious cases might require surgery.
Malocclusions can cause a range of dental issues, depending on type and severity. Treatments such as Invisalign can help to prevent future dental issues such as gum recession, bone loss, or chipped teeth.
Here are four types of malocclusions Invisalign can help correct:
- Cross Bite: When the top and bottom jaws do not meet up properly due to a lateral misalignment of the upper and lower arches. It is characterised by some of the top front teeth sitting inside the front lower teeth.
- Open bite: When the top and bottom jaws do not meet, or there is a gap between the top and bottom teeth, making biting and chewing highly difficult.
- Overbite: When the top front teeth overlap the bottom front teeth by more than 25%. Corrective treatment may be required to prevent future jaw pain and premature tooth wear.
- Underbite: This is a reverse overbite. With an underbite, the lower front teeth overlap the top front teeth as the lower jaw is too far forward, making it difficult to chew and speak properly.
How long do I have to be on Invisalign for?
The length of Invisalign treatment depends on the complexity of your case but for minor cases, treatments may be completed in a matter of 6 months. Most Invisalign patients also start seeing results in a matter of weeks!
After assessing your case, your orthodontist will recommend an Invisalign treatment plan that best suits your need.
*Each set lasts one to two weeks.
What comes after Invisalign treatments?
Similar to other types of orthodontic treatments, you can expect to use a retainer to keep your teeth from shifting back to their original positions. Retainers can either be removable or cemented to your teeth, and retainers typically cost about $475 per set.
Your orthodontist will introduce different types of retainers to you and explain their pros and cons. They’ll also advise you about how long you’ll need to be wearing your retainers for each day.
The five types of retainers commonly available are:
- Essix retainers: Removable aligners and clear plastic retainers that resemble aligners. Made of thinner plastic than Vivera retainers.
- Vivera retainers1: Made of thicker plastic than Essix retainers, these are Invisalign branded retainers which offer the advantage that the retainers can have the same teeth alignment as the last set of Invisalign aligners with straight teeth.
- Zendura retainers: Zendura is a robust rigid polyurethane material which was developed specifically for retainer and aligner applications, and is optimised to have the ideal strength for durability and comfort as a retainer. These are the top choice for clear retainer materials.
- Hawley retainers: A removable combination of metal wire and acrylic. A traditional type of retainers that are usually given for young patients. They can be uncomfortable as the acrylic arches are bulky and can reduce the amount of space in the mouth.
- Permanent retainers: A metal wire that is bonded to the inside of one’s teeth, holding the teeth in place. These wire retainers are not easily visible from the outside.
Each type has different pros and cons in the areas of durability, ease, comfort, and cost. Permanent retainers, on the other hand, are great for patients who might want a more carefree approach to maintaining the alignment of their front teeth.
Is Invisalign as effective as braces?
Studies2 have consistently shown that when it comes to the correction of mild to moderate malocclusions (imperfect positioning of the teeth when the jaws are closed) in non-growing patients who do not require tooth extractions, Invisalign is a choice alternative to traditional orthodontic therapy.
Moreover, Invisalign aligners can predictably level, tip, arch expansion and closure of extraction spaces in teeth, similar to traditional fixed braces.
However, Invisalign may have more limited efficacy when it comes to mesially impacted molars and severely rotated teeth. These are considered complex conditions. An experienced Invisalign dentist may suggest auxiliaries such as dental elastics, carriere appliances or mini implants like TAD (Temporary anchorage device) that, together with the Invisalign treatment, can treat these situations more predictably.
Invisalign’s advantage lies in the efficient movement of teeth, and shortened treatment duration3 as well as visualisation and greater control over the final outcome by the patient as compared to fixed braces whereby the end result is unable to be predicted or visualised at the start of treatment, resulting in more inefficient movement and longer treatment times by the average braces provider.
In conclusion, the real question to ask is not if braces or aligners are better, but which type of orthodontic treatment best suits your needs.
Is Invisalign painful?
Both aligners and traditional braces come with a level of initial discomfort but you’ll be happy to know that:
- Invisalign has proven to be more comfortable than braces, especially in the first week of active treatment.
- Most people do not describe Invisalign as being painful.
- Invisalign is less uncomfortable both when you’re chewing and at rest.
- Invisalign is less uncomfortable than braces when it comes to subsequent adjustments.
A study4 has also shown that more patients with fixed braces reported taking painkillers during their first week of treatment than those with aligners.
Is there a minimum age requirement to get on Invisalign?
Not at all. Be it for adults or teens, Invisalign can be a great solution for those looking to improve their smile in an inconspicuous manner. In the same vein, there is no maximum age limit for Invisalign treatment.
Additionally, younger patients can opt for blue wear indicators on the outside of their aligners that will help them ensure they’re wearing their invisalign clear aligners for long enough daily.
Pros and cons of Invisalign
Do’s and don’ts with Invisalign
Here’s the good news: You can eat what you want during the course of your treatment. Because Invisalign aligners are easily removable, there’s usually no need to refrain from your favourite foods.
However, we strongly recommend that you follow these Invisalign do’s and don’ts:
- Do be disciplined with wearing them: You should only take your aligners out when you are brushing your teeth, drinking, or eating. Additionally, you should be wearing them for at least 20-22 hours a day.
- Avoid heavily pigmented drinks: It’s important to drink nothing but cool or body temperature water when your Invisalign aligners are in. Anything dark or pigmented, such as coffee, has the potential to stain them.
- Take care of your Invisalign braces: Maintenance is the key to success. In order to prevent any unnecessary woes, clean your Invisalign braces regularly. Failing to do so will cause plaque and bacteria to accumulate. Your aligners can also get distorted or break if they are taken out with too much force, so handle them with care.
- Don’t rush your treatment: Your teeth need to move at a consistently slow and gentle pace for treatment to be effective. Thus, it is important that you follow your dentist’s instructions for the hours of daily wear and interval between changing aligner sets. Rushing the treatment can cause teeth to not track or follow the movement planned for them, which will require more treatment time and cost of invisalign to recover.
- Don’t play with your Invisalign braces: You’ll be doing your best to get used to your aligners during the first couple days of dental treatment. During this period, leave your aligners alone. Avoid examining the edges of the aligners with your tongue, or biting your teeth together as a habit, or they may get scratched.
- Don’t leave them in when eating: Needless to say, before every meal, you should safely remove your aligners and place them in their container. Eating with aligners on could damage them, and delay your treatment.
If you think your teeth need some fixing, or simply want a more beautiful smile without going through metal braces, we highly recommend Invisalign. Contact us today to begin your entire Invisalign journey.
- Vivera Retainers - From The Makers Of Invisalign . (n.d.). Www.invisalign.com.sg. Retrieved August 14, 2022, from https://www.invisalign.com.sg/vivera-retainers
- Papadimitriou, A., Mousoulea, S., Gkantidis, N., & Kloukos, D. (2018). Clinical effectiveness of Invisalign® orthodontic treatment: a systematic review. Progress in Orthodontics, 19(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40510-018-0235-z
- Ke, Y., Zhu, Y., & Zhu, M. (2019). A comparison of treatment effectiveness between clear aligner and fixed appliance therapies. BMC Oral Health, 19(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12903-018-0695-z
- White, D. W., Julien, K. C., Jacob, H., Campbell, P. M., & Buschang, P. H. (2017). Discomfort associated with Invisalign and traditional brackets: A randomized, prospective trial. The Angle Orthodontist, 87(6), 801–808. https://doi.org/10.2319/091416-687.1