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What is Invisalign?

Aligner Invisalign is an aesthetic orthodontic technique that uses a series of doctor-prescribed, clear aligners to correct malaligned teeth, bites, and smiles for teens and adults. It has been around since the late 1990s and been used by over 4 million patients including celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, Heidi Klum, and Katherine Heigl. The idea of using removable appliances to move teeth has been around much longer. However, Align Technology has developed an extremely precise, 3-D, digitally controlled way that allows doctors to move teeth with aligners that are clear, comfortable, and effective.

The aligners are made of an FDA approved, medical grade plastic that is customized to fit your teeth. Your doctor determines how teeth move in terms of speed, order, and direction. Depending on the movements required, there is a new aligner every few days to a few weeks, that fits your teeth slightly differently from the previous one to gradually improve alignment. Just like regular braces that place pressure on the teeth all the time, Invisalign must be worn for as close to full-time as possible. The general rule is for 22 hours per day, allowing 2 hours for brushing, flossing, and eating (unfortunately there is no data to show effectiveness of movement with night time wear only). The average treatment time with Invisalign is about one year, ranging from about six months, to a few years depending on treatment planning, compliance, and severity of the malocclusion.

Align Technology has invested significant resources since its inception to develop the Invisalign technique including Invisalign G3, Invisalign G4, Invisalign G5, Invisalign G6, and Invisalign G7, the iTERO iOC scanner, optimized attachments, precision cuts, torquing ridges, SmartForce features, and SmartTrack aligner material. It is the obvious choice for clear aligner therapy for both doctors and patients in this regard since it provides doctors with the greatest ability to control tooth movement to produce the best results.

There are several other aligner systems that may seem similar to Invisalign, but at this time, the technology and system is far superior to others available.
The following is a list of the types of Invisalign available. There are various reasons for the use of each product, but keep in mind that they will not change the rate at which teeth can be moved.

Invisalign

  • release world-wide in 1999
  • up to 5 years worth of aligners made available to the doctor
  • SMARTFORCE features
  • available only as complete set for upper and lower jaws

Invisalign Teen

  • release world-wide in 2009
  • torquing ridges, compliance indicators, eruption tabs, up to 6 free replacement aligners
  • up to 5 years worth of aligners made available to the doctor
  • lab fee slightly more than traditional Invisalign due to additional features
  • available only as complete set for upper and lower jaws

Invisalign Lite

  • treatment of minor nature using 14 aligners or less
  • standard Invisalign features available
  • 1 refinement available with new ClinCheck available
  • No precision cuts or smart staging
  • Teeth move at the same rate as Invisalign or Invisalign Teen. Shorter course of aligners is due to teeth not being as crooked at the start.
  • Available as single arch (note that single arch treatment might create an improper bite)

Invisalign Express 10

  • treatment of extremely minor nature using 10 aligners or less (very few patients qualify)
  • criteria as follows for acceptance by Align, but treatment may still not progress as other factors should be considered
    • maximum extrusion of 0.5mm
    • maximum IPR of 2 mm per arch
    • maximum posterior intrusion of 0.5mm
    • no sagittal (A/P) corrections required
  • 1 refinement available, not included in original lab free, 1 detailing set, not included in lab fee and no new clincheck possible
  • Teeth move at the same rate as Invisalign or Invisalign Teen. Shorter course of aligners is due to teeth not being as crooked at the start.
  • Available as single arch (note that single arch treatment might create an improper bite)

Invisalign Express 5

  • treatment of extremely minor nature using 5 aligners or less (exceedingly few patients qualify)
  • 1 refinement of 5 aligners available, but not included in original lab fee
  • Teeth move at the same rate as Invisalign or Invisalign Teen. Shorter course of aligners is due to teeth not being as crooked at the start.
  • Generally applies to very minor orthodontic relapse
  • Available as single arch (note that single arch treatment might create an improper bite)

Invisalign Assist

  • technicians, sometimes with the aid of a general dentist, will put together a treatment plan
  • progress impressions are required to make sure treatment is on track (generally about every 10th aligner) there are limited movements allowed
  • generally used by new doctors with Invisalign interested in some help with learning how to use this technique
  • some experienced doctors may have used this option to reduce a lab fee by not requesting the Assist portion of the treatment from Align. With the availability of Invisalign Lite, experienced doctors will likely not use this option.