If you’re a teenager or adult who needs to straighten his teeth, Invisalign is an option to consider, depending on your mouth and budget.
Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998, more than 2 million patients have had their teeth aligned with this technology, which is nearly invisible because the braces are applied to the insides of teeth.
An orthodontist or dentist will make incremental adjustments to the teeth's position over time with several Invisalign trays, according to Signature Smiles, a full-service dental clinic in Houston. These trays must be worn 20 hours per day for about two weeks. The amount of adjustments will determine the number of Invisalign trays and how long it will take to achieve a healthy, dazzling smile.
The cost of treatment varies based on the length of treatment, the complexity and where you live, said Dr. Sylvan Fain, a Miami cosmetic dentist. Although the cost can be as high as $9,000 in New York City, the average fee runs from $3,500 to $6,500.
"Some easy cases can be less, and complex cases can be more,” Fain explained. Patients may want to research how much an office charges for retainers, patient records and related costs.
Retainers are worn after treatment is finished to prevent the teeth from moving back to their original position, Fain said.
At Signature Smiles, the staff works with patients to research their health and dental insurance to learn what is covered and what isn’t. Ask the dentist to set up payment plans to handle what isn’t covered.
Before having Invisalign treatment, teenagers usually will need to get their wisdom teeth removed. Teenagers may be concerned about being teased and embarrassed while wearing braces, and Invisalign is a self-esteem booster. Invisalign teen braces can also be removed so she can eat whatever and whenever she wants.
“It is effective for mild to moderate crowding and alignment cases,” said Dr. Greg Jorgensen, a board-certified orthodontist in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. “It is especially good for patients who have had previous orthodontic treatment but did not wear their retainers and have experienced some relapse.
“My patients can take out their aligners to eat and brush. Patients like it because it looks so much better than braces. So in many cases, Invisalign is actually my treatment of choice.”
Not everyone, though, is a candidate for Invisalign. Orthodontists don’t recommend that children have it done, and some of the parts can be lost and need replacement, which can add to treatment time and costs.
No matter your age, be sure to ask your dentist how serious the crooked teeth are and how healthy your teeth are. If your issues are serious, Invisalign may not be a good option. You may not want to go through all the follow-up visits and associated costs.
Clear ceramic braces and lingual braces are solid options if Invisalign is not. Ask the dentist about all the options if traditional, metal braces bother you.
“The most tried and true, economical alternative is clear braces,” Jorgensen said. “They have been around a long time. Modern manufacturing techniques have overcome practically all of the long-standing weaknesses that have plagued previous generations of clear brackets. Today’s appliances are stronger, smaller, and do not stain like previous models.
“The only two drawbacks…are that they are still more fragile than metal, and they still cost your orthodontist more to purchase, which he must pass on to you.”
At Signature Smiles, Dr. Kevin Yeh, our board-certified orthodontist, and our staff will assist you with deciding between all the options so that you’ll be satisfied with the long-term results.