What does the dentist do during Invisalign treatment?

Since the Invisalign aligners (clear plastic devices that fit over your teeth and move them) are manufactured by Align Technology, some patients may wonder why they cannot be sent directly to the patient through the mail.  In other words, what role does the dentist have in the Invisalign process?  First, the dentist checks if the teeth are in good health.  Teeth that are weak, decayed, or have gum disease may be compromised or even ruined if they are moved orthodontically.  Second, the dentist takes either scans or impressions, as well as photographs of the teeth, to be sent with a prescription to Invisalign.

When treatment starts, small tooth-colored attachments are placed on the teeth by bonding them.  These attachments allow the aligners to pull and push in specific locations to move the teeth in very specific directions.  Sometimes, IPR is performed, which can be thought of as flossing with “sandpaper floss.”  The dentist removes tight contacts between teeth so that they have room to move into proper position.  Lastly, only a dentist can remove the bonded attachments and polish the teeth smooth.  Typically, I also recontour some teeth, polishing sharp edges, and smoothing certain areas to perfect the final look.

Invisalign is very predictable and works extremely well when done properly.  However, as with any medical or dental procedure, there are risks if performed improperly.  

 

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