Facts about Invisalign
Invisalign is one of the most amazing innovations in orthodontics in the past 20 years. Straightening teeth without braces has encouraged millions of patients who would have never considered treatment otherwise to finally get their smiles fixed. As exciting as this technology is however, it is important that we separate facts from fiction.
Fiction: Invisalign can be used to correct all orthodontic problems. Fact: Although the technology is getting better, there are still some complex movements that cannot be treated as efficiently or effectively with aligners. Cases which require the extraction of bicuspids are just one example.
Fiction: Invisalign is Invisalign and it doesn’t matter who provides it. Fact: Invisalign is just a tool that doctors use to straighten teeth. Align Technology (the manufacturer) does not diagnose or treatment plan the cases. The success or failure of each case is determined by the training and skill of each doctor who uses it. An orthodontist with advanced training and experience will usually understand diagnosis and tooth movement better than a general dentist who has just taken a weekend certification course. There are also different skill levels among orthodontists.
Fiction: Invisalign does not hurt as much as braces. Fact: Teeth get sore anytime consistent pressure is placed upon them. They cannot tell whether the pressure comes from plastic or from metal. You will experience some discomfort whenever your orthodontist moves a tooth (although your lips might be more comfortable against the smooth aligners rather than the metal brackets, wires, and ties).
Fiction: Invisalign is faster than braces. Fact: Healthy tooth movement occurs at one speed and it doesn’t matter if that movement is caused by plastic aligners or metal wires. The reason most Invisalign cases are typically shorter in length is because most orthodontists only use Invisalign for their easier cases.
Fiction: Invisalign costs a lot more than regular braces. Fact: The reason many providers do charge more for Invisalign is because there is such a large lab fee that must be paid to Align Technology at the beginning of treatment (currently over $1,500!). There are four areas of treatment that figure into a treatment fee: 1) the diagnosis and treatment plan, 2) the appliance cost (brackets, wires, expanders, etc.), 3) chair time during regular appointments for adjustments and activations, and 4) retainers and retention at the completion of treatment. The diagnosis/treatment plan and retention steps are the same for both Invisalign and braces. Although there is a higher lab cost at the beginning of treatment with Invisalign, the adjustment appointments during treatment are shorter and easier. In our office we feel these two differences offset each other and therefore we currently charge the same for Invisalign and braces.