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What to Expect at Your Invisalign Consultation

Clear aligners are a great alternative to traditional braces for many people who want a straighter, healthier, or more beautiful smile. Many dentists and orthodontists choose Invisalign treatment as their preferred clear aligner treatment program. 

invisalign aligners

It’s important to schedule in-depth consultation with your orthodontist to get a full scan of your teeth, make sure you are an eligible patient, discuss your treatment plan, and consult with them about payment plans. 

The first step is to book this initial consultation. You can speak with your dentist, orthodontist, or use Zocdoc to help you find top-rated dentists in your area that offer Invisalign consultations. Some may offer free consultations while others may charge a fee.

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Who is Eligible for Invisalign Treatment?

Invisalign is a teeth straightening treatment that can help many patients achieve a straight smile. It can help people with:

  • Crowded Teeth when there is not enough room in the jaw for teeth to fit normally
  • Overbites the upper front teeth close in front of the lower teeth
  • Underbites the lower teeth jut out in front of the upper front teeth
  • Crossbites the upper and lower jaws don’t align
  • Diastema there are small gaps between the teeth
  • Open Bites the top and bottom teeth don’t meet
  • Misaligned Primary (Baby) Teeth early orthodontic treatment for children with baby teeth or a mixture of baby and permanent teeth

However, not everyone is an ideal candidate for Invisalign aligners. Severe cases like a severe jaw malocclusion, impacted teeth, or missing teeth may require alternative treatment such as metal braces. This is why the initial consultation and digital scan are so important.

What to Expect at Your First Consultation

Each doctor will have a slightly different orthodontic consultation process, depending on their practice. However, there are some things that all patients can expect. The first appointment will typically take the longest. They generally last one to two hours.

If you’re a new patient, they will gather your medical and dental history. Then they will perform a comprehensive evaluation of your smile which may include all or some of the following:

  • X-rays Dental x-rays allow your doctor to see the state of your jawbone and the roots of your teeth. These may include panoramic, cephalometric, or full-mouth images.
  • Bite Registration — A paste is applied to your teeth, then you will bite down, allowing your doctor to record and evaluate your bite.
  • Dental impressions — The doctor will place a putty in a tray, which you will then bite, leaving an impression of your teeth that will be used to make your set of aligners.
  • Photographs — If your dentist needs to send your impressions to the Invisalign lab, they will also need to take eight photographs of your face and teeth.
  • 3D Digital Smile Scan — Some doctors have an iTero Element scanner and can perform their own 3D scan in-house. 

The next step will be to discuss your treatment plan. If your dentist needs to send your impressions to the Invisalign lab, they will talk you through the next steps of the process and provide estimations on treatment time. If they have their own scanner, they will be able to provide you with a digital model of your future smile.

Your doctor will review your case with you, as well as discuss payment options for your invisalign treatment. Once the lab (either in-house or via mail to Invisalign) has your impressions, they will begin to form your custom plastic aligners.

What to Expect Following the First Consultation

Your next appointment will take place once your custom aligners have arrived at the dental office. The doctor will talk you through placing your aligners in your mouth for the first time, discuss how many hours per day you will need to wear them, how often you’ll be changing aligners, and answer any further questions you may have. 

Some people require special tooth-colored attachments, which help the aligners shift your teeth more effectively. They will blend in with your natural teeth and your aligners will have small enclosures to fit these attachments. They often make it difficult to remove and insert your trays initially, but over time, the attachments become worn down and smoother. 

You will leave the office with your first set of aligners, which should last you approximately six to eight weeks.

What to Expect During Your Invisalign Treatment

After that, you’ll follow up with your doctor every six to eight weeks. You’ll return to their office and they will perform a thorough check-up and make sure your teeth are moving properly. You’ll also receive your next set of aligners that you’ll wear until your next appointment.

Patients with more severe cases will sometimes need to follow-up more frequently. There are discreet metal buttons and elastics that can be used to help move teeth properly. 

How Long Does Invisalign Treatment Take?

You’ll probably start seeing results in a few weeks. However, the treatment time varies between 6 to 24 months, depending on the severity of your condition. The average treatment time is 12 to 18 months.

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Resources

Kravitz, Neal D et al. “How well does Invisalign work? A prospective clinical study evaluating the efficacy of tooth movement with Invisalign.” American journal of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics : official publication of the American Association of Orthodontists, its constituent societies, and the American Board of Orthodontics vol. 135,1 (2009): 27-35. doi:10.1016/j.ajodo.2007.05.018

Phulari, Basavaraj. “History of Invisalign.” History of Orthodontics, 2013, pp. 226–226., doi:10.5005/jp/books/12065_24. 

Phan, Xiem, and Paul H. Ling. “Clinical Limitations of Invisalign.” Clinical Practice, Canadian Dental Association, Apr. 2007, www.cda-adc.ca/jcda/vol-73/issue-3/263.pdf

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Updated on: November 18, 2020
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Michael
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