“How long will I have to wear these?” It’s one of the first questions our patients ask when they begin Invisalign® treatment at The Glen Dental. That’s not surprising. The Invisalign system can dramatically improve your smile — so who wouldn’t be eager to see the final results?
Aman Bhullar, DMD, and Donald Pepper, DDS, understand your anticipation and eagerness. Here, we answer your questions and give you some of the factors that can help determine how long you’ll need to wear your aligners to get the beautiful results you’re looking for.
To understand why Invisalign takes a little longer in some patients compared to others, you need to know how the system works to straighten teeth. The underlying principle is the same as it is with traditional braces: Move the teeth — from tip to root — into proper alignment, so your teeth look great and function the way they’re supposed to.
Unlike braces that use brackets and wires that are “glued” to your teeth, Invisalign uses a series of clear plastic trays to move your teeth into their new positions. Each tray is shaped slightly differently, and it’s those differences that gradually shift the positions of your teeth.
During treatment, you’ll wear each set of trays for a certain period of time (usually about two weeks), then swap it for the next set in the series. The special plastic material used in Invisalign aligners helps normalize the pressures used to move your teeth, so treatment usually is significantly faster compared to traditional braces.
That’s the basic background information. Now to answer the question on your mind: How long will your treatment take?
Generally, most Invisalign treatments take from 12-18 months. However, your treatment could take a little more time or a little less time, depending on your needs.
One of the benefits of Invisalign is that your trays are each individually custom-molded for your teeth. That helps speed up the treatment process, but it also means that until you come in for treatment, we can’t really pinpoint the exact amount of time your treatment will take.
Some people with very minor alignment needs could finish their Invisalign treatment in as little as six months. Other patients with more significant orthodontic needs might need more than 18 months to get those perfect pearly whites.
While your treatment time is based on how much your teeth need to be straightened, there are some things you can do to make sure you complete your treatment in as short a time as possible.
Invisalign aligners need to be worn for 20-22 hours every day — even while you sleep. In fact, the only time they should be out of your mouth is when you’re brushing and flossing your teeth, cleaning your aligners, or eating meals. (You may take them out briefly for special occasions.)
You probably don’t want to take your aligners out in the middle of a fancy dinner, but don’t be tempted to eat with them in place, either. Leaving your aligners in place while you chew can bend and damage them so they don’t work correctly.
When you do remove your aligners for meals, resist the urge to slip them in a pocket or purse where they can be bent or damaged. Slip them into a retainer case to keep them safe and clean. Rinse your mouth well before putting them back in place once you’re done eating.
Remember, it’s those subtle changes in shape between each set of aligners that keep your teeth moving into their proper positions. Swap out your old aligners for your new ones as often as directed to keep your treatment on track.
Most patients visit us every month or so during treatment to make sure their progress is on track. Skipping visits means minor issues can take longer to be corrected — and that can mean you’ll need to wear your aligners a little longer.
As a leading Invisalign practice in San Jose, California, The Glen Dental is committed to making sure you get the beautiful results you want. To find out if Invisalign is right for you, call the office or book a visit online today.