Invisalign: 10 Things You Need to Know

Dr. Kyle Hornby

Heard of Invisalign? Of course you have. Invisalign has become massively popular over the past 20 years. It is a clear aligner system for straightening your teeth and it offers several features that make it more convenient than traditional metal braces. But, are there drawbacks and inconveniences to Invisalign? Is it the right system for you?

I've written this list so that you'll know more about Invisalign. There are a number of things that people may not be told before embarking on treatment. So, let's make sure that you know everything you can about Invisalign before jumping in.

Invisalign Fact #1: Shaving or "Slenderizing" your Teeth Can have Consequences

A large proportion of Invisalign treatment plans involve shaving enamel from in between your teeth. Why? Well, shaving off healthy enamel creates space between your teeth. This means your Dentist or Orthodonist can start rotating and moving teeth more quickly, and treatment takes less time. Shaving the enamel between your teeth makes your treatment easier and quicker for your Orthodontist. But, should you trade your healthy tooth enamel for that?

Let me explain what can happen when you shave your tooth enamel and then you can decide if it's for you.

First of all, enamel is the most mineralized tissue in your entire body. It's harder than bone and it is your best defense against tooth decay and cavities. When you reduce the thickness of your tooth enamel for Invisalign, you are reducing your defense against cavities.

Some patients have many fillings from past cavities. For them, shaving in between teeth may only result in trimming off artificial filling material. However, for many patients this "slenderizing" will result in the loss of valuable enamel. ("Slenderizing" is an unfortunate term used in the marketing of Invisalign to describe the shaving of healthy enamel from between teeth.

Shaving off enamel from in between your teeth will make them look narrower and longer. Some patients may have shorter teeth due to wear over time and, for them, the process of reshaping teeth may improve esthetics. However, for many patients shaving their teeth will make them look too narrow.

Invisalign Fact #2: Whitening your Teeth During Invisalign May Not be a Great Idea

Many patients are interested in whitening their teeth as they straighten them. The convenience of having aligners that can hold whitening gel seems like an opportunity too good to pass up! However, during Invisalign treatment your Orthodontist will bond white filling material on your teeth to create "buttons". (These buttons allow your aligners to better grip your teeth to improve tooth movement). When you whiten, your enamel around the buttons will get brighter but the enamel underneath the buttons won't.

When you finish treatment, your Orthodontist will remove the buttons from your teeth. This will expose tooth enamel that will now differ in shade from its surrounding enamel that you've already whitened. If you whiten after treatment, you may find that the enamel that was underneath the treatment buttons won't catch up in brightness.

My suggestion is to wait until completing treatment to whiten your teeth. And, as a bonus, you can use your Vivera removable retainers as a whitening tray!

Invisalign Fact #3: Wearing Lipstick Won't be Practical

If you wear lipstick, you'll quickly find out that it gets on your Invisalign aligners. Any lipstick or lip gloss products will smudge on your clear plastic aligners giving your teeth a discoloured appearance. If you'd prefer not to have red, purple or pink teeth, you'll want to avoid lipstick when you aligners are in.

Given that you'll need to wear your aligners almost 24 hours a day (except when eating and cleaning your teeth), plan on a break from lipstick for the duration of your treatment.

Invisalign Fact #4: You'll Need to Ditch the Manicures

If you're a fan of monthly manicures, you may want to hold off until you're through Invisalign treatment. The aligners are very retentive and require you to "coax" them off your teeth using fingernail pressure. Chipping of nail polish will become a fact of life for a little while so you might want to avoid spending your hard-earned cash on pricey manicures for a while.

Invisalign Fact #5: The Finish Line Isn't The Finish Line

Invisalign is a great way to align your teeth. But, it's sort of like running a race where you reach the finish line only to realize that there's further to go. Your Kitchener Dentist or Orthodontist will give you a timeline and total number of aligners at the start of treatment. However, once you progress through all of your aligners, you'll need at least a few more to fine tune your smile.

So, be patient with the process. The result will be worth it but the fine tuning stage might take a couple of extra months.

Invisalign Fact #6: Eating and Drinking May Drive you Nuts

We've all heard of the Atkins Diet, the Paleo Diet and many others. But, the "Invisalign Diet"?

Because you have to remove your aligners to eat and drink, then brush and floss before putting them back in, you'll quickly avoid snacking and the additional effort that comes with it. Most patients at our Kitchener Dental Office mention that they eat less and lose weight during Invisalign treatment.

So, be aware that Invisalign will make eating and drinking a more effortful endeavour.

Invisalign Fact #7: Dental Treatment Will be a Little Different

If you need dental fillings, composite bonding, dental crowns or other treatments during your Invisalign journey, make sure to bring your aligners to each appointment. These treatments can change the shape of your teeth slightly. So, after any treatment, your Kitchener Dentist will need to make adjustments to ensure your aligners still fit properly.

It's a small thing, but being aware of this will reduce the need for additional adjustments.

Invisalign Fact #8: Invisalign Treatment Buttons Collect Stain

On the way to pursuing a better smile, you may encounter a more stained smile. This is because the white cement or treatment buttons that help your aligners grip your teeth, also collect stain. Suddenly, a smooth enamel surface now has corners and edges and irregular surfaces are a hotbed for stain collection.

Brushing won't always remove the stain. Even dental cleanings and polishing may not remove it all. Luckily, when you finish Invisalign treatment and the buttons come off, you'll be able to polish up your new smile!

Invisalign Fact #9: Compliance is Not Always Easy

If you want Invisalign treatment to go as smoothly as possible, you'll need to be wearing your aligners at least 22 hours per day. That's a big undertaking! You'll pretty much be wearing the aligners constantly except when you remove them for a quick meal or drink.

It sounds easy to some, but sticking with the Invisalign program for 18-24 months isn't always a breeze. At our Kitchener Dental Office, we generally find that adults do a better job than kids and teens when it comes to the 22 hour per day commitment.

So, if your child or teen is going through Invisalign treatment, you may want to check in on them daily to make sure the aligners are "staying in".

Invisalign Fact #10: Invisalign is Not Suitable for All Cases

There are some tooth movements that are difficult to achieve with Invisalign. Typically, your Kitchener Orthodontist will let you know about this. If this is the case for you, they may suggest that you align your teeth with metal braces instead.

Sometimes, an Invisalign provider will agree to do part of the case using metal braces and then switch to Invisalign part way through as the case becomes less complex. This is an option with some Dentists and Orthodontists so don't be afraid to ask!

Summary

My goal with this article is to share some of the lesser known facts about Invisalign treatment. Invisalign is a great product, but it's marketing can sometimes emphasize it's conveniences too heavily without noting potential drawbacks. So, if you're looking at possibly aligning your teeth using Invisalign, don't be shy - make sure to ask your Kitchener-Waterloo Dentist lots of questions!

By Dr. Kyle Hornby, Dentist in Kitchener

Our Kitchener Dental Office is conveniently located in Downtown Kitchener and we are a short drive away for families in Waterloo, Breslau & St. Jacobs. Our central location means we truly offer family dentistry near you!

This article is meant to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Accordingly, always seek the advice of your Dentist or other healthcare providers regarding a dental condition or treatment.

Enjoy a fresh start.
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