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Different types of dental braces are used to correct the position of teeth over time according to the particular orthodontic problem such as crooked, crowded or protruding teeth. Invisible braces refers to either lingual braces or clear aligners which are alternatives to traditional metal braces. To avoid the social stigma often associated with traditional braces, many adults and teenagers are now considering invisible braces. Lingual braces are similar to traditional braces, but are instead fitted behind the teeth so they are not seen when a person smiles or talks. Clear aligners, including Invisalign® are similar to a mouth guard and grasp both the front and back of the teeth; they are completely removable. The best candidates for invisible braces are adults or older children who possess excellent oral health. Lingual braces can treat severe orthodontic conditions but Invisalign and other clear aligners are usually only ideal for those people with mild to moderate orthodontic conditions. The cost of lingual braces is between £3,000 and £5,000. Clear aligners are often more expensive, costing anywhere between £3,000 and £7,000.
Invisalign® is an invisible way to straighten teeth without the need for metal braces using a series of clear, plastic aligners which slowly move teeth over time, according to a dental prescription.
Crooked, crowded or protruding teeth can have a profound effect on a person’s self-esteem and confidence. Misaligned teeth can also be a major health concern if they interfere with proper chewing function or dental hygiene.
With the number of cosmetic and functional concerns that can arise from misaligned teeth, it’s no surprise that the demand for dental braces continues to rise. According to the National Health Service (NHS), nearly one million people in the UK initiated orthodontic treatment in 2011, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg when you factor in private dental services. major health concern if they interfere with proper chewing function or dental hygiene.
Interestingly enough, dental braces are not a modern development. Humans have been trying to improve the look of their teeth for thousands of years. Archaeologists have even discovered mummified remains with teeth that were "wired" with crude metal bands.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that orthodontists discovered that adhesives could be used to fix braces to the teeth, rather than wrapping wire around each tooth individually.
From this invention came the first “invisible braces” known as lingual braces, which served as an alternative for those who wanted their teeth straightened without the social stigma of visible, “train track” braces.
Lingual braces, which are still in use today, are fixed behind the teeth and thus obscured from view. Over the past few decades, orthodontists have refined this technique further and lingual braces still remain a popular, invisible alternative to traditional wire braces.
In the late 1980s other invisible braces, made from a translucent plastic began to hit the market. These braces were often ill-fitted, cumbersome and far more expensive than traditional wire braces. In 2000 however, a further enhanced system of invisible, removable braces called Invisalign® was first introduced to the public.
Using high-tech computer imaging graphics, Invisalign® is just as effective as conventional braces, but without most of the pain or the need for quite so constant adjustments. As a result, Invisalign® and other clear invisible aligners, such as Clearstep Braces have become a popular treatment option for both adults and children.
When it comes to orthodontics, you have a lot of options. If you’re considering invisible braces, the following information will give you a basic understanding of treatment. It can't answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on the individual and the practitioner. Please ask a qualified dental practitioner about anything you don't understand.
How Do They Work?
Braces are a type of orthodontic device used to correct the position of teeth over time. There are several types of braces, each suited to a particular type of orthodontic problem. To avoid the social stigma often associated with traditional metal (“train track” style) braces, many adults and teenagers are now considering invisible braces.
The term “invisible braces” may be used to refer to either lingual braces or clear aligners.
Lingual braces are similar to traditional braces, but are instead adhered behind the teeth – obscuring them from view.
Clear aligners are an alternative to traditional metal or ceramic braces. Similar to a mouth guard, they grasp both the front and back of the teeth and are completely removable.
Orthodontic treatment can take several months to several years to complete. Prior to electing treatment, it’s important that you ask yourself the following questions:
What Can It Treat?
While invisible braces may not be suitable for certain misalignments or highly complex bite problems, they are capable of treating a variety of orthodontic conditions such as:
• Overly crowed teeth
• Widely spaced teeth
• Crooked teeth
Who Should Not Have It?
The best candidates for invisible braces are adults or older children who possess excellent oral health. While lingual braces are capable of treating severe orthodontic conditions, Invisalign® and other clear aligners are usually only ideal for those with mild to moderate conditions.
What Happens During & After?
Prior to getting braces, you will need to undergo an orthodontic consultation. During your consultation, an oral examination followed by x-rays will be performed to make a proper diagnosis. You will then have the opportunity to discuss and explore your orthodontic options.
To create lingual braces, your orthodontist will need to take impressions of your teeth and gums. Using specialised computer software, your orthodontist will be able to design customised metal or ceramic brackets for the back of each tooth. The brackets are then transferred and cemented to the back of your teeth. A thin metal wire (called an arch wire) will run from bracket to bracket, placing constant pressure on your teeth.
The process for designing clear aligners is very similar. An impression will be taken of your teeth and gums. From this information your orthodontist will be able to design a custom set of aligners for your teeth. Unlike lingual braces, you will remove and replace your clear aligners throughout the duration of treatment. Clear aligners are typically worn for about two weeks, before being replaced with a new set as the teeth move and are realigned.
It may take a few weeks to get fully adjusted to your new braces. You may experience some initial discomfort and unfamiliar feelings as you get used to the braces and some actions that you normally take for granted, such as chewing or swallowing, may require some additional thought and effort to begin with. Also some patients may experience a temporary lisp or struggle pronouncing certain words. This should all resolve quite quickly as you adapt.
Regular appointments every 6 to 14 weeks will be needed to monitor your progress and make adjustments as necessary. The duration of treatment varies from patient to patient, depending on the orthodontic condition being addressed, the severity of it and the response rate of the individual’s teeth to treatment. Lingual braces are typically worn from eighteen months to two full years. While clear aligners sometimes require a shorter treatment period of six to eighteen months.
Risks and Limitations
There are few risks associated with invisible braces, but it’s important to be informed prior to electing this (or any) dental procedure.
Results and Outcome – Though orthodontic treatment usually proceeds as planned, it’s possible that you will be dissatisfied with the final results. The success of treatment largely depends on your level of commitment and cooperation. Keeping appointments, maintaining excellent oral hygiene and following your orthodontist’s instructions very carefully is the best way to ensure satisfying results.
Discomfort – As you can imagine, the mouth is an incredibly sensitive area of the body. It is possible that you will experience some discomfort over the course of treatment, especially during the initial adjustment period. Over-the-counter pain medications may be recommended to alleviate this discomfort.
Future Relapse – A completed orthodontic program does not guarantee permanent results. Retainers are often necessary to keep teeth aligned following orthodontic treatment. If you do not wear your retainer as instructed, your teeth could gradually shift back. Natural ageing or habits such as tongue thrusting or mouth breathing may also impact your results long-term.
Decalcification and Cavities – Oral hygiene can be more challenging with braces, which may put you at a higher risk of decalcification (white marks) or cavities. Regular brushing and flossing combined with a low-sugar diet is the best form of prevention.
Periodontal (Gum) Disease – In addition to an increased risk of cavities, the tissue and bone surrounding your teeth are also more vulnerable to improper care during orthodontic treatment. Your orthodontist will provide you with specific instructions on how to minimise your risk of periodontal disease.
Post-Brace After Care Advice
Each patient is different and your orthodontist will design a personalised aftercare program for your teeth. It’s important to remember that even long after your braces have been removed, your teeth will still require regular maintenance and care ensure long-lasting results.
Schedule A Dentist Appointment – It’s possible that your teeth and gums were slightly neglected while you were wearing braces, especially if you had metal lingual braces. Once your braces are removed, you should schedule a dentist appointment to check for tooth decay.
Wear Your Retainer – In most cases, a retainer will be necessary to prevent your newly straightened teeth from shifting. Retainers are custom-made, removable appliances that are typically composed of rubber or clear plastic.
Most patients will need to wear their retainer at all times during the first six months post-treatment. If you fail to wear your retainer as directed, you may become dissatisfied with your long-term outcome.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene – Maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the most important things you can do for your teeth and gums post-braces. A well-balanced oral hygiene program me should include twice daily brushing, once daily flossing, a healthy diet and dental products (including toothpaste) that contain fluoride.
Who Can Do It?
Treatment with invisible braces should only be performed by specially trained and experienced dentists and orthodontists.
The total cost will depend on the extent and duration of your treatment. Prices for lingual braces are typically between £3,000 and £5,000. Clear aligners are often more expensive, costing anywhere between £3,000 and £7,000. If you’re worried about cost, most dentists and orthodontists offer monthly payment plans to lighten the financial burden of treatment.
Braces are commonly used in orthodontics to correct the position of teeth over time, to realign crooked or crowded teeth.
As well as traditional style braces, “invisible braces” in the form of lingual braces or clear aligners have become more popular with both teenagers and adults who wish to avoid any social stigma or teasing associated with having to wear braces on their teeth.
Lingual braces are similar to traditional braces, but are fitted behind the teeth so they cannot be seen and clear aligners, including Invisalign® are worn like a mouth guard.
The best candidates for invisible braces are adults or older children who possess excellent oral health.
Lingual braces are capable of treating severe orthodontic conditions but Invisalign® and other clear aligners are usually only ideal for those with mild to moderate conditions.
Before and After Pictures
To see before and after photographs of real patients using the Invisalign brand of invisible dental braces, including examples of the different dental conditions the brace can correct please click below.
All before and after photographs are real patients, your results may differ.