Posted . by jheaton

At Desert Family Dental, we meet many patients who wish they had straighter teeth. Some of these patients keep their smile hidden from the world, because they feel embarrassed to display a mouth full of crooked teeth. Others have to have cavities filled every time they visit, because their misaligned teeth prove hard to clean effectively. While a lot of these folks have never tried orthodontic treatment, because they deemed it too expensive or felt it would affect their professional appearance, some had braces in their youth, and have seen their teeth fall back out of alignment since then. Dr. Lee offers orthodontic treatment for all types of misalignments. We can place traditional bracket and wire braces or Invisalign® clear aligners to help you achieve the straight smile you’ve always dreamed of.

To learn more about our orthodontic options, including traditional braces and Invisalign®, call our Mesa, AZ, dental office today.

What Are Traditional Braces?

Anyone who grew up before the turn of the century remembers traditional braces. These are the bracket and wire braces we all grew up with. The doctor bonds a series of metal brackets to the front surface of the teeth with a metal wire running through them. The wire guides the teeth into their correct position as the doctor gradually tightens it over the course of treatment. Dr. Lee can use these braces to correct even the most complicated alignment issues. Patients typically wear traditional bracket and wire braces for a period of at least two years to correct their alignment problems.

When should I Choose Traditional Braces?

Bracket and wire braces make a great option for any alignment issue, but they become necessary when correcting the most complex issues. Patients who suffer from severe malocclusion, a problem with the way the upper and lower teeth fit together such as an overbite or underbite, benefit greatly from traditional braces. They provide the best option for patients with protruding or rotated teeth, as well as those with teeth that have become crooked due to overcrowding, which cannot be fixed with aligners.

Benefits of Traditional Braces

The biggest benefit of fixed braces is that they work continuously, 24 hours a day. They provide the most precise alignment option available, and with advanced technology we can make them more stylish than ever before. Patients who do not want a mouthful of silver can opt for clear or enamel colored brackets, or show off their sense of style with multicolored brackets. Since patients cannot remove traditional braces, they will have no issues with forgetting to put them in, which can cause treatment to take longer. Best of all, they cost much less than the popular clear aligners!

What is Invisalign®?

Invisalign® offers a revolution in orthodontic treatment that replaces the metal brackets and wires of traditional braces with clear acrylic aligners that gently move your teeth into place. Invisalign® eliminates the need to visit an orthodontist every month to have wires tightened. Traditional braces place restrictions on the foods you can eat, disallowing favorites like caramel, popcorn, and even apples for fear of pulling a wire or bracket loose. As an Invisalign® patient, you can remove your aligners, allowing you to eat anything you want. Removable aligners also make cleaning teeth much easier. Invisalign® requires no bands and you will not need to worry about uncomfortable wires. The average Invisalign® treatment lasts only 12 to 18 months, as opposed to the two-year average for traditional braces. The biggest advantage of Invisalign®, however, comes from the virtual invisibility of the aligners, meaning nobody has to know that you wear them except the dentist.

Who Can Wear Invisalign®?

The advent of Invisalign® treatment means that orthodontics now make just as good an option for adult patients as they do for teenagers. Dr. Lee treats many adults with Invisalign®, including many who wore traditional braces as teens. Invisalign® aligners work to repair many maladies, such as overbites, underbites, and crooked or rotated teeth. The aligners work wonders for patients who have wide spaces between their teeth, even if other teeth have shifted and moved into those spaces. Adults who suffer from malocclusion have found that Invisalign® works wonders for their smiles. Invisalign does not work well for fixing misalignment due to overcrowding.

The makers of Invisalign® have also developed a treatment program specifically for teenagers. Called Invisalign Teen®, the program offers all the benefits of the adult plan, with a few unique additions that help keep your child on track with his treatment plan. The aligners that come with the Invisalign Teen® program have blue dots on them that fade as your child wears the aligner. If the blue dot remains when your teen finishes with that aligner, you will know he has not stayed compliant with his treatment plan. The makers of Invisalign Teen® realize that teenagers have very busy lives and can easily forget things, so they have also included six bonus aligners with the program for free. So if Tristan accidentally throws his aligner away in the cafeteria at lunch, or Lexi loses hers at a sleepover, you will just need to call our office, and Dr. Lee will order a replacement at no charge.

The Invisalign® Treatment Process

As with any dental procedure, the Invisalign® process starts with a consultation with Dr. Lee. The doctor will take the time to discuss the Invisalign® process with you, answer any questions you have about the treatment, and find out what expectations you have for the treatment. When you both agree that Invisalign® offers the best solution for straightening your teeth, the doctor will schedule a second appointment for you.

At your second appointment, the excitement will really begin. Dr. Lee will take digital images of your mouth, then feed them into the Invisalign® proprietary software. The software will process the images, using them to create a custom treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. This treatment plan will outline how many sets of retainers you will need to wear, and how long your total treatment will last. For most patients, total treatment time lasts from 12 to 18 months, but treatment time varies from case to case. Dr. Lee will then forward your treatment plan to an offsite Invisalign® lab, where certified technicians will use it to create your aligners.

When your aligners arrive in our office a few weeks later, you will return for a third visit. At this visit, the doctor will give you your first three sets of aligners, along with instructions for how to use them and care for them. Over the course of the treatment, you will wear 20 to 30 sets of aligners. You will wear each set for two weeks, keeping them in your mouth for 20 to 22 hours a day to remain in compliance with your treatment plan. You should only remove the aligners for eating and cleaning your teeth. The effectiveness of your treatment plan will depend heavily upon your following these parameters. If you fail to wear the aligners for the required 20 to 22 hours each day, the doctor may need to extend the length of your treatment.

You will return to our office for another visit in six weeks. At that visit, the doctor will perform a quick checkup and you will receive your next three sets of aligners. You will return every six weeks for these checkup visits, and to receive your next sets of aligners. When you have successfully completed your course of treatment, Dr. Lee will create a retainer for you to wear to help keep your teeth in their new places, so your beautiful new smile will last.

Call Us Today

If you have alignment issues with your smile, and need help deciding whether you should use traditional braces or Invisalign®, call our Mesa, AZ dental office today and schedule a consultation with Dr. Lee.