Invisalign is a great system for straightening teeth. It uses a series of clear aligners to move teeth into a desired position. The greater the movements required, the longer the series of aligners will be.
So, what happens when you get to a stage where the goal of “straight teeth” has been achieved?
The first thing that needs to be assessed is whether you (the patient), and the dentist are completely satisfied with the result. Sometimes teeth will not move totally as we had aimed, sometimes the bite may need a little refinement. If for any reason you or your dentist want to adjust things, then this is the stage to say so. Another set of refinement can be done at this stage to improve tooth positioning further. Refinement is the process where more aligners are used to tweak the tooth positioning. Normally there is no fee for this stage as its included in the initial treatment plan.
Provided everyone is happy with the position of the teeth then we will remove any composite attachments on the teeth and polish everything. This is also a good time to schedule a clean with the hygienist – your mouth will feel lovely and fresh afterwards.
Some people will be looking towards enhancing their smile at this stage. This may involve tooth whitening, composite bonding, porcelain veneers or even implants.
Whitening is carried out first to get the teeth to your desired shade, then any composite bonding is placed. This may be to correct chipped or worn edges of the teeth, or to enhance the shape of the teeth. Sometimes we will adjust back teeth to “equilibrate the bite” this means making sure you’re biting both sides evenly. This enhancement of the smile can be discussed with your dentist as you are nearing then end of your Invisalign treatment.
Once all teeth are in the desired position and the size, shape and colour are all approved, we will scan the teeth with our iTero digital scanners. This scan is used to make three sets of Vivera retainers. These retainers look much like the Invisalign aligners but, are a little thicker to make them more robust.
We generally advise using your retainers for evenings and overnight for the first six months, then it is fine to switch to nightly wear after that. We provide three sets of retainers so if any go missing you are not left without any retainers at all. If you travel a lot for work, then keeping a set permanently in your travel bag is a good idea. If you’re moving round the country for work or study, then maybe consider leaving a set with parents or a friend who can send you them easily if you misplace your regular set.
Retention really is the key to avoiding relapse of tooth position. If you go without your retainers for any length of time, then your teeth can easily drift and move. Once this happens your retainers may not fit as well, possibly not at all. Having spent time and money on getting the teeth just right, it really is a shame to have to go back to more treatment – not to mention the associated costs!
Sometimes, we may discuss a fixed retainer, which is a little metal wire bonded to the back of the front teeth. These are great for preventing relapse however, they can make cleaning a little trickier and provide more surface area for plaque and tartar build up. You need to be really meticulous with your cleaning and see our hygiene team regularly if this type of retention is opted for, in addition to your Vivera retainers.
So, the key to finishing Invisalign is firstly to make sure you and your dentist are both happy to finish. Then to get the teeth looking and feeling their best, and finally making sure that the teeth do not move from the desired final position. If you would like to discuss Invisalign straightening treatment for your teeth, please give us a call on 020 8629 1433, we’d love to help.