In Houston and Memorial City, Texas

Invisalign is the hugely popular way to straighten your teeth and treat gaps, overbites, underbites, and more. The process involves a series of aligners or “trays” that each moves teeth anywhere from .1mm to .25mm before being swapped out for a new one. Unlike braces, Invisalign aligners are removable, comfortable, and virtually unnoticeable. 

So that’s the general concept. But how does the Invisalign procedure work, you ask? Here’s a step-by-step guide to the Invisalign journey from beginning to end…

 

Step 1: Consultation

The point of the consultation is a) to determine if you are a candidate for Invisalign, and b) to answer any questions you may have about the process. While it can solve a great many dental issues, Invisalign is not applicable for kids or youngsters with baby teeth or still-growing adult teeth.

During this step, we take impressions and a bite registration to gather data on the state of your teeth. We also use our iTero Element 2 intraoral digital scanner to comfortably take 3d images of your mouth within moments. We can then manipulate the image to show you a detailed view of how we expect your teeth to look after your Invisalign treatment. 

The iTero is made by the makers of Invisalign and Invisalign patients scanned with an iTero experience seven times fewer fit problems than other patients.   

 

Step 2: Creating a Dental Plan

Armed with this information, assuming you are a candidate for Invisalign, our dentist will advise you of your options and explain what he envisions your treatment requiring. Issues can always arise during the treatment process, but he will do his best to prepare you so you aren’t taken by surprise by anything. 

 

For example, sometimes aligners alone aren’t enough to move teeth to the desired position, so attachments or “buttons” have to be added. These tiny, tooth-colored pieces made of composite are bonded to certain teeth to help the aligner stay on better and assist with straightening. They may not be necessary for the entire length of your Invisalign treatment and can be easily removed.

The dentist may also foresee a need for rubber bands as part of your treatment, which attach to the buttons. If so, he will explain how you’ll use them and what to expect while wearing them. 

Learn more about attachments and buttons, what they are made from and how they are applied during treatment.

 

Step 3: Invisalign Customization

Using the iTero software, we send your imaging results to the Invisalign labs where technicians create your custom aligners from BPA-free plastic. Sending the results electronically has shortened this process significantly; it usually takes about four weeks for your aligners to arrive at our offices. 

 

Step 4: Treatment

When your aligners are ready, you’ll come in to pick them up. The dentist will provide information on what to expect and how to care for the trays, such as:

  • Each tray is worn for about two weeks. 
  • You need to wear the trays 22 hours a day, taking them out only to eat, brush, and floss. Otherwise, you can get behind on your adjustments and succeeding trays won’t fit well.  
  • You may need to cut back on your coffee or tea intake, as these can stain your aligners if you drink with them in, while taking the aligners out to drink them can cost you significant straightening time. 

 

Clear Invisalign tray over teeth

Invisalign treatment uses a series of clear aligners to slowly re-position the teeth. Photo credit: Carrie A.

If your dental plan is straightforward, you’ll be able to just pop the trays in and be on your way. However, if you require attachments, you’ll have them installed at this time. If you also need bands, the doctor will assist you in putting them in.

 

Step 5: Monthly Check-ups

To ensure everything is coming along nicely with your alignment, we’ll have you visit our office once a month to check the progress of your teeth and address any issues or questions you have.

At one or more of these visits, it may also be necessary to perform what’s called an interproximal reduction. This is a simple procedure using a file or drill to remove tiny shavings of enamel in between teeth to give them room to move into alignment. You may feel some vibrations or slight heat from the drill but should not experience any pain from the procedure.

 

Step 6: Additional Trays

It’s very common for patients to need a second round of “refinement trays” to address specific teeth that are not quite perfect after your initial treatment. To do this, we repeat the scanning and impression session and order new trays from Invisalign. 

 

Step 7: Retainers

After you finish the trays, the final step in the Invisalign process is to move to retainers. Retainers are similar to aligners in that they’re removable and typically clear, although it’s also an option to install a permanent retaining bar along the inside lower front teeth. Retainers help prevent your teeth from getting out of alignment over time as a result of biting and chewing. 

We’ll generally have you wear your retainer full-time for the first couple months, but after that you can move to nightly, and finally just every few nights will suffice. 

 

Step 8: Smile!

The final final step…Show the world your beautiful teeth!