August 11, 2005
If you want to straighten your teeth without braces, there may be a solution. People still use the traditional braces, but there is an alternative--one that's invisible and made of plastic.
"They move the teeth about two to three tenths of a millimeter for each aligner so you wear [each aligner] for about two to three weeks. [Then] you change it and get a new aligner and those work about for the treatment time which is typically about a year," said Dr. Bart Weiss, Orthodontist.
The aligner are plastic molds of the teeth call Invisalign, which patients wear 24-hours-a-day except when they eat and brush their teeth.
"It's critical to have these fitting all the time to allow the constant pressure on the teeth to transfer to the bone to allow the bone to remodel to move the tooth," said Weiss.
The aligner shift teeth to straighten them, unlike braces that do heavy moving and jaw adjustments.
"They're great for patients, adults that maybe have had treatment before as an adolescent and they want to have re-treatment. If they have a little bit of crowding, a couple of teeth have shifted, these are a great system for them," said Weiss.
Adults and late teenagers are the best candidates because they have a fully developed mouth and are more comfortable with invisible inserts than visible wires.
"I've been self-conscious about a large gap in my teeth all of my life," said Darlene Brown who wear invisalign. "Being an adult I didn't want to go with the traditional braces, I didn't want to have the metal in my mouth."
Invisalign costs about $1,500 to $2,000 more than regular braces, but causes little discomfort and only slight tenderness.
"This is about as good as it gets in technology and orthodontic tooth movement," Weiss said.
The average user wears about 25 different alignments for two weeks each for about one year.