Even if you’ve never had orthodontic work done, you know about Invisalign®. It made the news in the late 1990s when two Stanford University students invented a clear, removable teeth-straightening system that rivaled traditional metal braces, and it continues to wow teens and adults looking for a discreet way to perfect their smiles.
Dentists love Invisalign, too, including our team at Dental Art of South Bay in Torrance, California. However, we’ve found that while most people are familiar with the brand Invisalign, many don’t fully understand its capabilities and limits, so we’re setting the record straight.
Invisalign refresher course
Invisalign is an innovative approach to straightening teeth without the need for traditional metal braces. Dr. Dana Samet, Dr. Bethany Jung, and Dr. Alyssa Nowlen use advanced technology to plan out your treatment precisely, including a 3D digital scan of your teeth to map. This allows us to predict how your teeth will move with each set of aligners and plan your treatment accordingly.
Your custom-made series of clear plastic aligners fit snugly over your teeth and apply controlled force to specific teeth at different stages of the treatment process. This force gently moves your teeth into the desired position over time. You wear each set of aligners for 1-2 weeks before replacing them with the next set in the series.
The beauty of clear aligners is that you don’t have to suffer with the metal-mouth look. The advantage of a removable system is that you have no food restrictions. You simply take Invisalign out of your mouth, eat whatever you please, and then pop the trays back in.
What’s the big deal about crooked teeth and a misaligned bite?
Bite issues, also known as malocclusion, can range from simple cosmetic concerns to significant oral health problems.
When you have a misaligned bite, your teeth don’t meet each other properly, leading to difficulty chewing and speech impediments.
Crooked teeth overlap and make it tough to floss and brush well, increasing your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
There are several bite issues, including:
- Overbites: when your upper teeth significantly overlap your lower teeth
- Underbites: when your lower teeth significantly overlap your upper teeth
- Crossbites: when some of your upper teeth sit inside your lower teeth when biting down
- Open bites: when your upper and lower teeth don’t meet when your mouth is closed
These bite problems are common, and most people have these issues to some degree. Not all cases require orthodontic treatment, but it's time to treat when malocclusion contributes to chewing, speech, and oral health issues.
Can Invisalign treat my bite problem?
Research demonstrates that Invisalign can be as effective as traditional braces for correcting mild to moderate malocclusion, including some cases of overbite, underbite, crowding, and spacing issues. However, Invisalign’s effectiveness varies depending on severity and complexity.
While Invisalign addresses a long list of problems, it may not be suitable for all cases. For example, severe or complex bite issues may require more traditional orthodontic treatments, like braces or oral surgery.
The benefits and limitations of Invisalign
Invisalign offers several benefits over traditional braces. They’re virtually invisible, making them a more aesthetically pleasing option. They can also be removed for eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing, offering greater convenience and ease of maintenance than braces.
However, the success of Invisalign treatment largely depends on patient compliance. You must wear your aligners for at least 20-22 hours a day for them to be effective. Additionally, while Invisalign can treat a wide variety of bite issues, there may be better solutions for severe or complex cases, such as:
Severe crowding or spacing issues
Although Invisalign can correct mild to moderate crowding or spacing problems, severe cases may require traditional braces because braces offer stronger and more controlled force.
Complex bite issues
While Invisalign can effectively treat some overbite and underbite issues, severe cases call for the stronger force of metal and wire braces.
Tooth rotations and movements
Invisalign may struggle to rotate and move some teeth, particularly canines and premolars, due to their shape and position in the mouth.
Intrusion and extrusion
Intrusion (pushing a tooth down into the gum line) and extrusion (pulling a tooth out from the gum line) are difficult to achieve with Invisalign. Traditional braces tend to be more effective for these types of movements.
Teeth with short clinical crowns
Teeth with short clinical crowns (the visible part of the tooth above the gum line) may not provide enough surface area for the aligners to grip onto, making Invisalign less effective.
Also, if you have dental bridges that connect two or more teeth, it may interfere with Invisalign’s ability to move the teeth.
Except in these extreme cases, Invisalign can do everything traditional braces can. Call Dental Art of South Bay to find out if Invisalign can fix your misaligned bite or crooked teeth.