If you have crooked teeth, Invisalign® might be the right treatment to restore your smile. You may not have worn braces as a child or teenager, but that does not mean you cannot do something about your teeth now. Regardless of your age or previous treatment history, now could be the right time to get…
How Long Do Invisalign Treatments Take?
When considering Invisalign® treatment, one of the main questions patients often ask a general dentist is how long does it take to see the expected results. While everyone hopes the journey of straightening teeth is smooth and easy, the main payoff is reaching the intended goal and achieving a smile that is both beautiful and functional. Fortunately, clear aligners offer patients a time-effective, comfortable alternative to traditional braces.
The Invisalign® process
From start to finish, it takes an average of 12 to 18 months for patients to complete Invisalign® treatment. In order to achieve desired results, there are several steps to the process that all patients need to go through:
- Consultation: Before patients are given aligners, a consultation appointment is necessary to allow the dentist to examine the individual’s mouth and determine the appropriate course of action. By the end of this appointment, the patient may be provided with a plan and cost estimate of treatment.
- Scan: Once the dentist confirms the patient is a good candidate for Invisalign®, digital images are taken of the teeth using a special wand scanner. Once each individual tooth is captured, a complete 3D picture of the patient’s mouth is made, which is sent to the lab that creates the aligners.
- Pick-Up: After the course of several weeks, the patient has an appointment to pick up the first set of trays. There are approximately 12 to 16 trays in each set that are supposed to be switched out every one to two weeks. During this appointment, the dentist places any necessary attachments on the teeth and instructs the patient on how to properly wear the aligners.
- Follow-Up: When the patient is close to finishing a full set of aligners, they attend a follow-up appointment that allows the dentist to examine the progress of the treatment and make any adjustments as necessary. If more work needs to be done, a new scan of the teeth is taken and additional trays are provided.
- Removal: If the dentist determines the main treatment is completed, any attachments are removed and a mold is taken of the patient’s teeth for retainers. While people often need to wear the last set of Invisalign® at night until the retainers arrive, this is the last step in the process and the aligners no longer need to be worn during the day after this point.
Factors that affect the time of treatment
Treatment time can vary for each patient depending on several factors. For one, the complexity of the case and the severity of the alignment issues have a major impact on how long the process can take. Additionally, each patient’s mouth and teeth are unique and move at a different pace. In general, younger patients’ teeth move at a faster rate than older patients. Not following the treatment plan and neglecting to wear the trays can also extend the expected timeline significantly.
Dentists can provide patients with a time estimate during the initial consultation of how long the Invisalign® treatment may take. Being diligent about wearing the trays and communicating any issues that arise can help keep patients on course.
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