For many years, dental patients throughout the Austin, Texas area and other regions across the world have had to rely on metal braces in order to get straighter teeth. And while there’s no doubt that these tried-and-true appliances really work, there are some downsides. Conventional braces are uncomfortable to wear, they make it hard to thoroughly clean teeth and gums, they limit what the wearer can eat, they’re embarrassing for some people, and they take quite some time to work. In fact, the dental patient who wears metal braces can expect to have them on for 16 to 18 months on average, with some patients needing to wear them for a full two years. Considering the other downsides that come with metal braces, two years can feel like an eternity. Fortunately, modern dental technology offers another option: Invisalign® clear plastic aligners. One of the many benefits of this teeth-straightening method is that it usually takes less time to complete. If you’re wondering how long the Invisalign® process takes, you’ll be interested in the information we’ve compiled that will answer that question for you.
An Introduction to Invisalign®
Before we discuss how long the process takes, there are some important facts that you should know about Invisalign®. The treatment consists of the patient wearing clear plastic aligners for a period of several months, during which time his or her teeth become straighter and straighter. These plastic aligners are virtually invisible, much more comfortable than metal braces, and work just as well as traditional braces for most patients.
Another advantage with Invisalign® is that the patient can remove the aligners to eat meals and brush and floss their teeth. That means that not only is oral hygiene much easier with clear plastic aligners; the wearer can also enjoy whatever foods they’d like without restrictions. Although the aligner trays are removable, the patient needs to wear them for at least 22 hours each day. Every couple of weeks, the dentist provides the patient with a new set of trays, and with every consecutive set of trays, the patient’s teeth get straighter and straighter.
Which Issues Can Invisalign® Resolve?
The Invisalign® method is often a great choice to resolve a wide variety of dental problems, including: overbites, underbites, crossbites, crooked teeth, crowded teeth and gapped teeth. While clear plastic aligners work well for many patients, they may not be the right choice for everyone. Generally speaking, the more severe your problems are, the more likely that your dentist will recommend another teeth straightening method (such as metal braces, for example) to resolve your issues.
Although this method works well for many people of all ages, from teens through older adults, it’s important to remember that it is not intended for children who don’t yet have their adult teeth. And if you have other oral health issues – such as gum disease or tooth decay, for example – your dentist will want to resolve those issues before beginning your Invisalign® treatment.
How Long Does the Invisalign® Process Take?
The Invisalign® treatment method typically takes between 6 and 18 months, with the average being about 12 months. But it’s important to remember that every patient is different. So the length of time that you’ll need to wear your Invisalign® aligners will depend on a variety of factors, including the following:
- Your age – While it’s true that Invisalign® works for every age group – from teenagers to older adults – the method does work faster on teens. That’s because their teeth are usually faster to shift into new, straighter positions than the teeth of older adults. This is not always the case, however, and this treatment method can be very effective no matter how old you are.
- How faithful you are to the process – For most patients, being able to remove your aligner trays is a great benefit. After all, it means you can enjoy whatever foods you like and easily brush and floss your teeth as you normally would. But it also means that you’ll need to take a greater responsibility for how well the treatment works. If you don’t wear your aligners for the recommended period of time each day (22 hours) the method won’t work as fast or as well. So if you or your teenager signs up for Invisalign®, you’ll need to remain faithful to the process.
- Your teeth are severely crowded – Some conditions are more difficult to resolve than others. This is the case with crowded teeth, particularly if your jaw is somewhat small or your teeth are particularly large. If you have crowded teeth, but your jaw and tooth size is average, Invisalign® might take as little as 6 months. But if your teeth are very crowded, and you have a small jaw with large teeth, plastic aligners can easily take 12 to 18 months to work. And some people with extreme crowding issues may need to use another treatment method in order to achieve success.
- You have large gaps in between your teeth – Many patients who have small to medium-sized gaps between their teeth will find that Invisalign® works well in a relatively short period of time. But if you have large gaps – or if your jaw is too large and your teeth are small – it may be take much longer for Invisalign® to work. In some extreme cases, your dentist may recommend another method (such as veneers or bonding, for example) to close gaps between teeth.
Invisalign® clear plastic aligners offer many advantages over traditional metal braces, and in most cases the amount of time it takes to complete treatment is one of those benefits. While this treatment method may not be the right choice for everyone, those with conditions that are easily resolved with Invisalign® can achieve a straighter smile in as little as 6 months! To find out more about this remarkable dental technology, and to find out how long the Invisalign® process will take for you, schedule an appointment with your Austin, Texas dentist today!