We answer some common questions about one of the most advanced orthodontic treatments: Invisalign ‘invisible’ braces.
Q. How does Invisalign differ from other competitive orthodontic treatments?
A. Invisalign is a series of comfortable, removable nearly invisible ‘aligners’ that help to move teeth step by step to achieve a great smile. It is perfect for enhancing your natural assets, ‘using what you’ve got’ rather, for example, than drilling away the teeth and adding porcelain.
If you compare Invisalign to traditional braces, primary differences include there are no metal brackets or wires and unlike traditional ‘train tracks’ you can remove the aligners for special occasions, and indeed daily to eat and to keep up your oral hygiene.
Aligners are more comfortable than and not as painful as traditional braces. With the latter you are required to have the wires changed and tightened, which can cause great discomfort. Aligners on the other hand, apply a constant gentle force on the teeth without causing much pain.
Finally, you have a certain amount of flexibility as you will only need to see your doctor every 8 to 12 weeks. This means less maintenance – perfect for those with a busy schedule.
Q. When you say anti-ageing, can you explain in more detail how misaligned / overlapping teeth contribute to looking older than you need to?
A. One of the things that can happen to the teeth as we age is discolouration, which can also occur from stains penetrating the enamel. Teeth, like any other part of the body, are also subject to wear and tear – everyday physical forces cause deterioration to the tooth structure. This can manifest with loss of enamel, resulting in teeth shortening, chipping or developing fracture lines.
Tooth decay and even gum disease over time may also cause deterioration in teeth, which can lead to fillings, root canals or in extreme cases, tooth loss. Gum disease can also cause teeth to loosen and move due to a loss of bone supporting the teeth. A natural movement in teeth also occurs throughout life; however teeth that are already crooked have a tendency to worsen further with age.
Discolouration and teeth that have moved, or are fractured are key indicators of ageing. Crooked teeth, particularly on the bottom, become more obvious as we age as the facial tissues become less elastic and the skin sags, making the teeth more visible. Crooked teeth also wear faster than straight teeth and therefore the effects of ageing are more obvious – the more discoloured and deteriorated the teeth, the older someone physically looks. With Invisalign you can tackle both the movement of teeth and the discolouration, as you can whiten your teeth during treatment, unlike with train track braces.
Q. Is there an age-limit on using Invisalign?
A. I would recommend the treatment to anyone from the age of twelve upwards, with no upper age limit.
Q. Are there any people who wouldn’t qualify for Invisalign (e.g. those with a number of crowns/implants in their mouths?
A. The most important thing is good oral health – if you are not orally fit, it can be contraindicated to go into treatment. You have to be careful about treatment choices if you have crowns or implants as this can provide limitations – you can’t move crowns or implants, just straighten the teeth around them.
Q. What are Dr Mark Hughes’ tips on anti-ageing your teeth (and does this extend to gums too)?
A. Poor diet can be a cause of tooth deterioration, whether through sweet, hard, or staining food and drinks. Failure to maintain an effective oral hygiene routine also plays a major part in the ageing process, as this can lead to tooth decay. Poor attendance for dental health checkups can add to the deterioration and prevents the opportunity for early detection of any problems such as decay, or clenching/grinding of teeth which can speed up the ageing process.
You can’t stall the ageing process but you can reduce the physical effects of it with a better diet (avoid too many sugary foods and those that can cause staining such as red wine, coffee etc), regular dental checkups and visits to a dental hygienist (considered part of a regular beauty routine for many people now, much like going for a facial). Ensure you are brushing teeth effectively and incorporate floss or interdental brushes into your oral hygiene routine to reach the tooth surface and gum between the teeth.
Taking measures to whiten the teeth and correct tooth position will also directly reduce the physical effects of the ageing process. Protective measures, such as a bite guard, can help slow tooth deterioration that occurs as a result of tooth grinding etc.
Q. What price range are we talking about?
A. The average cost ranges from £2,500 to £4,000. But if your teeth only need minor corrections, prices could be as low as £1,800.
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