Invisalign, a modern alternative to traditional metal braces, has seen a tremendous rise in popularity in recent years. The benefits to Invisalign are clear (pun entirely intended) and many-fold. Your friends, family and work acquaintances aren’t going to know that you’re undergoing orthodontic corrective work from sight alone. Gone are the days you need to walk around with a mouth full of metal.
They also require minimal maintenance. Just light brushing a couple of times a day for cleaning and they’ll be good as new. Perhaps most importantly, to some, is the relative safety and comfort that they provide. They are much more physically comfortable to wear than the sharper-edged wires and brackets of traditional metal braces. In the past, getting occasional painful nicks and cuts on the mouth was almost a given. Invisalign’s grooves are smooth, are made out of a much softer material and feel much similar to modern mouth guards.
However, it is still too early to anoint Invisalign as a true panacea for all orthodontic problems. There are various (perhaps not so obvious) drawbacks and inconveniences that come with wearing invisible aligners that we don’t experience with traditional metal braces.
Misplacing your aligners
This is a very real problem that virtually everyone who’ll go through invisible aligner therapy will experience at least once. Invisalign has taken some measures to mitigate this possibility – they provide a nice pocket-sized round carrier, lined with rubber material inside, to keep your aligners when you have to remove them. The problem with this is that many Invisalign patients don’t actually carry this container around: many prefer to just wrap their aligners up in tissue paper and leave them on the table while they enjoy their lunch.
Alas, even if you do remember to pick up the inconspicuous ball of tissue with your aligners hidden within them, your friends or the staff of the eatery may not be as aware. Throwing away invisible aligners by mistake is probably the #1 reason that most patients lose them. This can get costly over time as well – it costs up to $100 to get one tray of invisible aligners replaced!
They stain easily
While the cleaning routine for Invisalign isn’t all that time consuming or difficult, there are certain behaviours that will develop dark, noticeable stains on your aligners permanently. Smoking and drinking black coffee are probably two of the biggest culprits. Of course, your dentist will recommend that you always remove your aligners prior to having a cigarette or starting to drink your morning coffee, but that’s a huge hassle that many Invisalign patients find it tough to stick to, especially if they’re the type that enjoys sipping their coffee throughout a long workday.
For habitual smokers, this gets even more troublesome; Imagine having to remove your aligners and washing them every single time you have a cigarette! Cigarette smoke will stain your once pristine aligners even after just a couple of cigarettes and give your set of aligners an unmistakable pale yellow hue – not exactly the most flattering looking colour.
Wearing them at least 22 hours a day
Putting everything else aside, in order for the treatment protocol your dentist designs for you to work as intended, you’ll have to wear your aligners at least 22 hours a day. Many Invisalign patients don’t actually hit this 22 hour a day mark – resulting in a far longer treatment schedule than they once intended.
Let's be honest. It can be quite difficult to truly not wear your aligners for only a couple of hours a day. While taking them off during meals is a given, many Invisalign patients don’t actually enjoy wearing them during meetings or presentations. Although most patients will eventually get used to the presence of them in their mouths, some patients still speak with a slight lisp even after months or a year wearing Invisalign. Hence, in the professional world, it’s very reasonable to expect that some patients will remove their aligners for several hours a day during important meetings or presentations, to that ensure fluency while speaking.
The same goes for those looking forward to a fun night out at the club or bar during the weekend; between all the bar snacks and alcohol and socializing; it becomes an attractive prospect to simply leave your aligners at home and not have to worry about them while you paint the town red. It’s also quite a real possibility that upon arriving home from a late-night out partying that you’ll be too inebriated to remember to wear your aligners before collapsing into bed!
Just like any other modern dental technology, Invisalign has many attractive pros, but it also comes with its cons. A dental routine that is easy for one person to be compliant to could be almost impossible for another person to follow; it’s important to communicate with your dentist to ascertain whether Invisalign is really the right treatment for you.