Is Invisalign Right for You?
When I was younger, I had to go through the ordeal of wearing braces. This was long before my running days, so junior high was a rough time for me between my metal mouth and gangly frame. I somehow made it through alive, and my smile was reborn. Years later, I now have a son of my own, and he has the same orthodontic needs I had.
Recalling my own tortured junior high years, and having serendipitously heard of Invisalign, I decided to check out our options.
I’d actually be a bit surprised if you were to tell me that you had never heard of Invisalign. But, if you’ve somehow managed to miss it entirely, Invisalign is a type of orthodontic braces, the chief difference between traditional braces and Invisalign braces being the fact that the Invisalign are translucent. (Thus saving you the embarrassment of wearing braces.)
Your orthodontist will take a plaster mold of your teeth and then send the mold off to Invisalign headquarters in California. Invisalign engineers use computers to model a personalized series of Invisalign braces (they call them “aligners”) that when worn will stimulate your teeth into naturally realign themselves. The idea is no different than it is with traditional braces.
Invisalign Braces or Traditional Braces?
So which is best?
Advantages of Invisalign
1. The most obvious advantage of Invisalign braces over traditional braces is that the Invisalign is clear. You can be (fairly) certain that people won’t recognize that you’ve been outfitted with an orthodontic apparatus.
2. You can eat whatever foods you want because you take them out whenever you eat.
3. This also makes day-to-day dental care much easier. Whereas brushing—and especially flossing—can be difficult with traditional braces, under Invisalign, these will be just as easy as they were before you started treatment, so you can prevent the cavities that wearers of traditional braces often end up with.
4. Instead of going in for frequent adjustments (not to mention for unforeseen issues like broken brackets), you merely switch to the next aligner in the series after about two weeks (the specifics vary, and of course your orthodontist will let you know).
5. Invisalign is more comfortable. Though traditional metal braces aren’t exactly jagged, they can, and do, from time to time, snag the inside of your mouth. That never happens with Invisalign.
6. In some cases, Invisalign is faster.
Disadvantages of Invisalign
1. Due to the physical processes Invisalign employs, it does not work well controlling back tooth bite relationships or vertical movements, nor can it reliably rotate cylindrical teeth.
The Invisalign company is well aware of these issues, and they are hard at work providing supplemental equipment (buttons) to deal with them.
If realigning your teeth doesn’t require much by way of vertical or rotational movement, Invisalign is the obvious choice. Ask your orthodontist if Invisalign is an option for you.
Paying for Your Invisalign
Though our gut instinct tells us that Invisalign qualifies in some way as cosmetic (since it’s to some degree out of vanity that we choose the translucent Invisalign in the first place), I can assure you that most Dental Insurance companies do, in fact, consider Invisalign braces the same as traditional braces when it comes to coverage; after all, both courses of treatment are intended to re-align the teeth in the service of better overall dental health (and, yes, cosmetic concerns).
That said, most dental insurance covers very little orthodontic treatment. Often the coverage is a lifetime limit of ~$1,000 (if you’re lucky, the coverage will be 25% or 50%). Jerome Shuman, a Board Certified Orthodontist, answered a number of questions for bracesquestions.com and reported that according to a 2005 study the national average cost for braces is $4,941 for children and $5,354 for adults while the cost for Invisalign is about $5,000.
(The 2011 issue of the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics puts the average cost of adult braces nearer $5,600.) So, even if you have orthodontic coverage, you’re probably still looking at $4,000. Most practices are happy to put you on a payment plan. And if you’d struggle to make their standard payments, they’d probably be happy to lower the monthly rates and extend it over a longer period of time.
Another option is to join a dental discount program. For ~$20 per month you can receive a 20% discount on services from participating dentists and orthodontists.
You might seriously consider seeking out the local university’s orthodontics program. Though you might shy away because they’re all students, they’re students overseen by professionals. Plus, you’ll end up paying only two-thirds the private practice costs.
Now that you know about them, head online and search, “Invisalign braces Charlotte” (or wherever you live), and find out if Invisalign is right for you.
About the author
Drew Kobb, in addition to studying civil law, loves long distance running and considers himself a health and fitness enthusiast. His interests range all over the medical field, and Drew highlights that range on his blog, Dr. Ouch.