Although modern orthodontics was not invented until the early 17th century, dental braces date back to ancient times. Aristotle, Hippocrates, and other historical figures contemplated and devised early systems to help people fix or straighten their teeth. Instead of the metal bands that are used today, early orthodontists used catgut, a natural fiber made of animal intestines, to straighten and close gaps in teeth.
Luckily, the field moved onto more effective methods. Braces were invented in the early 19th century. Since that time, metal braces have been the teeth straightening system of choice for dentists and orthodontists around the globe. They can be used to fix a myriad of problems, from overbites and malocclusions to diastemas (gaps) and other aesthetic issues. Both parents and their children abhor them, but for different reasons.
Parents can’t stand them because they’re expensive, and kids hate them because they are uncomfortable and unsightly. Just about every wearer has been called a “brace face” or a “metal mouth” at one time or another. Kids can be cruel, and metal braces give them all the ammunition they need to launch an unprovoked attack.
Cosmetic alternatives to traditional metal have existed for decades. The clear plastic versions, for example, are cemented onto the backside of the teeth instead of the front, making them invisible to observers. In addition to being pricier, however, clear braces are also far more likely to cause tongue irritation since the brackets and wires are on the insides of the teeth and near the tongue.
What Is Invisalign?
As we have seen, braces have limitations. The traditional system is unsightly and the more modern alternative causes oral irritation, which may result in soreness, cuts, and even infections. Fortunately, there is another option that does not rely on metal brackets and wires-Invisalign.
Invisalign is a tooth straightening system that utilizes custom-made aligners that gradually shift your smile into its proper place. These aligners are made of smooth, comfortable, and almost undetectable plastic that is worn over your teeth until the treatment is complete.
How Do They Work?
With traditional metal models, dentists must make regular adjustments based on your progress. In most cases, the wires must be tightened periodically to expedite the straightening process. But that is not necessary or even possible with Invisalign. Instead, the patient is simply given a new set of aligners when needed-sometimes as often as every two weeks. Simply pop them in and wear them until your teeth shift enough to require a new set of aligners.
In addition to the obvious aesthetic advantages, Invisalign is also functionally superior. You won’t have to worry about your favorite foods getting caught in wires or brackets, which makes them even more of an eyesore. Because the aligners are removable, this new system allows you to eat the foods you like at any time. You can also brush and floss normally, which can be a chore with regular braces. Last but not least, the smooth plastic Invisalign trays will not irritate your gums and cheeks as traditional metal often does.
Because Invisalign does not require regular orthodontic adjustments, cosmetic dentists may offer this option to their patients.