Winning Strategies to Maintain A Perfect Smile

How long do I need to wear my retainers?

Probably the second most frequent question I get asked (besides “when am I going to be done with my treatment?”) is: How long do I need to wear my retainers?

The simple answer is another question: How long do you want to keep your teeth straight? Unfortunately (and fortunately—since it allows us to move teeth at any age), teeth and the supporting tissues respond to forces in the mouth that were and still are in effect before and after orthodontic treatment. As a result, teeth will move back to their original position post orthodontics without the support of retainers. So . . . if you stop wearing your retainers at some point in your late teens or as an adult, there is a good chance that some of your teeth will shift.

If you stop wearing your retainers at some point in your late teens or as an adult, there is a good chance that some of your teeth will shift.

The Research

Perhaps a shallow dive into the research on retention will shed a little more light as to what has been discovered about tooth movement following orthodontic treatment:

  • There is not a direct correlation between impacting wisdom teeth and the crowding of lower incisors.

  • Malocclusions that started with spacing between the teeth have just as much chance to relapse (i.e. spaces returning) as teeth that were crowded.

  • Expansion or flaring of front teeth during orthodontics showed a greater chance of relapsing after the completion of treatment

  • Unwanted tooth movement also occurs as a result of the normal aging process. These changes include the deterioration of the alignment of the anterior teeth

  • It is difficult to predict which orthodontic cases will exhibit relapse therefore every case should be treated on the basis that relapse will occur and that life-long retention is required

  • Even with the best of retention protocols, most orthodontic cases will exhibit some movement (5 to 10%) of the teeth

Minimize the shifting of teeth, maintain your beautiful smile.

Be consistent wearing your retainers on a regular basis. Start off by developing good habits just like brushing and flossing your teeth every day. Intermittent wear of retainers is not only uncomfortable (sore teeth) but also unhealthy for the supporting gums and bone. The idea is to allow your teeth to settle into their new position and for the surrounding tissues to adapt accordingly. The good news is that wearing your retainers about 8 to 10 hours per day is sufficient to keep your teeth straight (Yeah! No full time wear!!). Be sure to keep your retainers clean by brushing them daily and storing them in a case away from heat and the family dog. You don’t want your retainers to become an expensive doggie chew toy!

Retainer Choices

There are basically three different types of retainers available:

  • Thermoplastic

  • Hawley

  • Fixed


Thermoplastic retainers are similar to Invisalign aligners. They are clear retainers that fit over the teeth, provide excellent retention, and are very comfortable to wear. If you clench or grind your teeth at night, they will also serve as a night-guard however heavy bruxers will quickly grind through them. Invisalign offers its own line of thermoplastic retainers called Vivera. They can be ordered at the end of treatment and come in a set of 4. Thermoplastic retainers work best following Invisalign since they are similar to what the patient experienced with their Invisalign treatment.

Hawley Retainers

Hawley retainers are the traditional retainers that are typically delivered following the completion of orthodontic treatment with braces. They have been around for over 100 years and have stood the test of time. Hawley retainers are very durable, can be made in many different acrylic colors/patterns, and can be adjusted if teeth have moved slightly. They do make speech difficult since the upper retainer covers a good portion of the palate and feel bulky in the mouth due to their size.

Fixed Retainers

A fixed retainer is basically a wire that is bonded (glued) to the backside of your incisors. It is most commonly used in the lower arch to prevent relapse of the lower incisors. The upside of a fixed retainer is that you have retention 24/7 but it can be challenging to keep clean and requires special flossing/brushing techniques. The other downside is that a bond or part of the wire will sometimes break and a tooth may shift before the fixed retainer can be repaired.

The bottom line . . . Keep wearing your retainers! If you stopped wearing your retainers and your teeth have shifted, don’t worry — Invisalign is a great way to address post orthodontic relapse.

If you have questions about the benefits of Invisalign treatment, please call Visage Orthodontics to schedule a visit with Dr. Tanner, your Santa Fe Invisalign specialist. Dr. Tanner will review everything in detail and develop a customized treatment plan to fit your lifestyle and budget.

A confident and beautiful smile is right around the corner!

The Secret Sauce of Tooth Movement

Orthodontic treatment can be magical.

On your first day in the orthodontic office, you or your child presents with a mouth full of crooked, overlapping teeth. After undergoing orthodontic treatment with Invisalign or braces for year or two, the teeth are transformed into a beautiful smile. How does this happen and is there a more comfortable way to accomplish this tooth magic?

The biology behind tooth movement.

First, without getting too stuck in the “science mud”, one must have a basic understanding of the biology behind tooth movement. Surprisingly, teeth, even though they appear to be static in the mouth, are in a constant state of flux. This occurs not only on a daily basis with chewing (teeth flexing in the sockets) but also throughout one’s lifetime: from early childhood with tooth eruption to late adulthood with dental arch changes. An important principle to remember is that teeth are programmed to respond to pressure and they will move if that pressure is maintained over a long enough period of time.

An important principle to remember is that teeth are programmed to respond to pressure and they will move if that pressure is maintained over a long enough period of time.

How do teeth move through the bones of our jaws?

It does not seem possible since bone appears to be so dense and teeth so firm in the mouth. The magic lies in the special ligament that surrounds the root. This encasing is called the periodontal ligament and it has properties to protect teeth from the forces of occlusion and external pressures. When we chew, we generate tremendous force. The periodontal ligament acts as a shock absorber and absorbs that stress. This is an intermittent force and does not result in a long-term change to the position of the tooth. However, if constant pressure is applied to the tooth, the periodontal ligament responds and begins to create modifications in the surrounding bone, which ultimately allows for the movement of the tooth.

The science of tooth movement.

Let’s dive in a little deeper into the science of tooth movement. When a tooth receives an orthodontic force, it shifts in position and the periodontal ligament in the tooth socket is compressed in some areas and stretched in others. The compression / tension of the periodontal ligament immediately changes blood flow, oxygen levels and triggers the release of chemical mediators. As a result, special cells (osteoclasts) jump into action to remove bone in front of the compression side and others cells (osteoblasts) lay down new bone on the tension side. And voila, the tooth begins to move! If the orthodontic forces are too great, some cell death occurs in the compression side and tooth movement is impeded (up to 7-14 days) due the need to recruit adjacent cells. Ideally, light force application triggers the biological response needed to move teeth without creating excessive inflammation and cell death.

This all occurs on the microscopic level.

There are key differences between moving teeth with braces vs aligners.

The personal experience.

What does a person experience during and after an orthodontic adjustment? If the patient is in braces, the wires are either adjusted or changed at their appointment. The patient walks out of the office feeling tightness in their teeth, which is then followed by soreness for the next 3 to 6 days. What is happening is that the teeth are receiving high force and the adjustment diminishes over several days until the tissues respond and heal. With Invisalign, the patient receives new aligners that are changed weekly. Each aligner imparts a low force load that stays fairly constant over the week allowing for light continuous forces to be exerted in a more uniform fashion. As a result, the degree of tooth discomfort is minimal with aligner changes and the teeth/supporting tissues do not experience as much pathological insult throughout treatment.

So, what is the secret sauce for efficient tooth movement?

Light continuous pressure over an extended period of time creates the magic. This combination results in the most effective and comfortable straightening of your teeth in the shortest time. And what is the best way to accomplish this? Invisalign, of course!

If you have questions about the benefits of Invisalign treatment, please call Visage Orthodontics to schedule a visit with Dr. Tanner, your Santa Fe Invisalign specialist. Dr. Tanner will review everything in detail and develop a customized treatment plan to fit your lifestyle and budget.

A confident and beautiful smile is right around the corner!

The Straight Facts About Crowding

So, why do most of us experience crowding of our teeth at some point in our lives?
The answer to this question can be both simple and complex – intertwining evolution, heredity, and environment.

Evolution. Our teeth are catching up.

The prevalence of dental crowding in the US population is estimated at 66%. Interestingly, an analysis of human skulls from 10,000+ years ago shows almost no evidence of crowding or impacted teeth – including those pesky wisdom teeth. Why the difference between then and now? The reason for these ideal prehistoric arches is due to the diet of the cavemen.

Early humans needed powerful jaw muscles and consequently large jaws to masticate their raw food. Also, the course diet caused teeth (in their respective arches) to wear against one another thus negating crowding with age. Over the millennia, tools were introduced, hunter-gathers shifted toward an agrarian society and diets became softer. The need for powerful jaw muscles diminished and jaw size shrank – unfortunately, tooth size stayed about the same. As a result, the prevalence of crowding began to increase. This trend continues today with our modern society and our processed food.

No wonder most of us don’t have enough room for our wisdom teeth!

Genetics at work

In addition to this evolutionary trend, a large factor that plays into whether we as individuals have crowded teeth is the role of genetics. Both tooth size and jaw size are inheritable traits. Our parents contribute genetic material that influences how large our teeth will be and the size of our jaws. In the worst-case scenario, one parent passes along the gene for large teeth while the other parent passes along the gene for small jaws. The result: Lots and lots of crowding! In a situation like this, the normal complement of 32 teeth must be reduced to 24 teeth (by extracting the first bicuspids and third molars) to accommodate the remaining teeth.

Thank goodness for orthodontics!

What’s the environment got to do with it

A final factor that plays into crowding is environmental influences. This is the largest contributor to crowding and the one that we have the most control over. As children, different situations can result in early crowding or set the table for future crowding. Some examples are early loss of baby teeth without the placement of a space maintainer, an ongoing habit like thumb sucking resulting in the tipping back of lower incisors, failure to address ectopic (out of position) or impacting adult teeth, allowing baby teeth to be over-retained, and not expanding narrow arches in advance of permanent tooth eruption.

Different situations can set the table for future crowding. Thumb sucking is one of them.

Time can be tricky

One question that always comes up in regards to crowding is the role of third molars. Especially since many of us have perfectly straight teeth until our late teens or early twenties. A significant number of studies have been done on the correlation between wisdom teeth and crowding. A systematic review of the literature published in The Scientific World Journal showed that third molars are not the culprit in lower anterior crowding. So what is going on? Over time, there are subtle changes that occur which collectively result in a breakdown of the alignment of the teeth. Most changes begin in the lower arch and ultimately show up in the upper arch since the lower arch can act as a mold or “retainer” for the upper arch. Typically what happens with age is that the lower arch narrows especially by the canines, the lower molars slowly move forward and the arch length decreases. With these movements, something has to give and it usually starts with crowding of the lower incisors.

Don’t worry, take action

All hope is not lost! If you are a parent of a young child, be proactive and have the dentist monitor your child’s dental development. Don’t be afraid to seek an orthodontic evaluation if you have concerns. You don’t need a referral and exams are complimentary. If you have already been through orthodontic treatment – keep wearing your retainers. Remember, it is a lifetime commitment if you want to keep your teeth straight. If you are an adult and experiencing shifting of your teeth, don’t wait – the crowding will only worsen with time.

If you have questions about the benefits of Invisalign treatment, please call Visage Orthodontics at 505-670-6145 or visit our appointment page to schedule a complimentary consultation with me, Dr. Tanner, your Santa Fe Invisalign specialist. I will review everything in detail and develop a customized treatment plan to fit your lifestyle and budget.


A confident and beautiful smile is right around the corner!

Invisalign Teen – The Right Choice!

One of the greatest gifts that we can give our teenagers is straight teeth and a healthy smile. To accomplish this goal, it is important that our teens “buy” into the process and fully comply in order to achieve the best possible outcome. Teenagers want to have a say in their treatment and recent surveys indicate that teens strongly prefer clear aligners to braces.

A confident, healthy, smile is a gift that lasts a lifetime.

Let’s be honest: teeth straightening can be overwhelming.

Not only is a semi-permanent solution like braces daunting, but also it is a choice that, once made, can’t be reversed until the treatment is completed. With hyper-awareness of appearance and pressure from social media, braces can be one more challenge for a teen’s self-confidence during their crucial developmental years

The great benefit of Invisalign is that it provides an aesthetic, more flexible way to give teenagers the confidence of a great smile. Invisalign aligners are comfortable, removable, and nearly invisible, which means teenagers can carry on enjoying life without the restrictions, irritation, and self-consciousness often associated with metal brackets and wires.

The benefits of Invisalign Teen over braces:

  • Because Invisalign aligners can be removed, this allows teens to continue their normal brushing and flossing regimen. Consequently, there is less chance of plaque, decay and gum disease, and a healthier smile for your teen. Invisalign is made of a smooth, comfortable BPA free plastic that is custom molded to the teeth for a highly accurate fit and optimal comfort.
  • There are no limitations on what can be eaten during orthodontic treatment. The aligners are removed prior to meals / snacking and no foods are off-limits. Best of all nothing sticks to the teeth, unlike what a patient with braces experiences after eating.
  • There are no wires to poke or brackets to break, which means there are no orthodontic emergencies. The average orthodontic patient in braces has at least three additional emergency appointments throughout the duration of treatment – many times these problems arise late in the evening, on weekends, or when out of town.
  • Invisalign aligners can act as a mouth guard for active teens. Many middle school and high school sports do not require mouth guards to participate but injuries to the teeth and mouth still occur from trauma. Invisalign reduces the risk of injury while the teeth are being moved into an ideal position.
  • Teens are under tremendous stress. This can result in clenching and grinding during the day and even more so while sleeping. Invisalign aligners protect the teeth from abnormal wear or stress fractures from these para-functional habits. In addition, wear can be detected on the aligners (during treatment) from these habits. A recommendation will then prescribe for a night guard in the retention phase of care.
  • Treatment time with Invisalign Teen is shorter than traditional braces by 6 to 9 months. This means fewer visits to the office, quicker results, and less time out of you and your teen’s busy schedule. Best of all, the average case cost is the same or less than traditional braces for the latest technology in teeth straightening.
  • There are no additional costs associated with Invisalign Teen. If an aligner is lost or broken, Align Technology (the manufacturer of Invisalign) will supply up to six free individual aligners.
  • Worn as directed, Invisalign aligners will achieve results that match or exceed those seen with traditional braces. Over 9 million patients have been successfully treated with Invisalign aligners; the product is backed by years of research and product development. Invisalign continues to grow in market share and will someday be the leading treatment option for orthodontic tooth movement.

Give your teen the gift of self-confidence and good oral health! It’s a gift that lasts a lifetime! If you have questions about the benefits of Invisalign treatment, please call us at 505-670-6145 or visit our contact page to schedule a complimentary consultation with me, Dr. Tanner, your Santa Fe Invisalign specialist.

How to Choose the Right Invisalign Orthodontist

  • Should you pick the least expensive lnvisalign provider?
  • Does it matter if you go to a dentist or orthodontist for Invisalign treatment?
  • Does experience make a difference with Invisalign?
  • How do you find an Invisalign provider with clinical expertise and a great reputation?

Read on and you’ll feel more confident on your search, knowing exactly what you should ask your prospective Invisalign orthodontists, and more.

The Cheapest Invisalign Provider is Not the Best Value in the End

The most experienced orthodontists calculate their fees to allow for the best care possible, so they don’t have to resort to cutting corners and taking shortcuts just to reduce costs. Invisalign is a system that requires precision from start to finish. That means using a high ­resolution scanner (such as iTero) to capture a 3D image of your teeth and taking quality photos or x-rays to produce the most accurate set of records for treatment planning and aligner fabrication. In addition to the Invisalign aligners, it is important that the provider uses the best ancillary products such as quality attachment material, buttons, elastics, polishing strips, and retainers to ensure success. You should never go to a provider where the materials or techniques are “probably good enough”. This especially holds true with any of the do-it-yourself orthodontic companies (Smile Direct Club, Candid, Byte, and many others). Their materials are inferior; there is no supervision; many of the outcomes are substandard (just Google “Smile Direct Club Horror Stories”). Cheap – yes, but can you afford to settle for anything less than ideal when it comes to your smile and your bite?

There is a Big Difference Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist

The primary differences between a general dentist and an orthodontist are their level of training and clinical experience. A general dentist receives little to no training in dental school for orthodontics, while an orthodontist has 2 to 3 years of specialty training. All Orthodontists are dentists but only 7% of dentists are university-trained orthodontists. In residency, orthodontists learn about the biological basis of tooth movement, growth and development of the jaws and face, biomechanics, appliance systems, and treatment planning. In private practice, orthodontists focus solely on straightening teeth and correcting malocclusions. General dentists, on the other hand, wear many hats. They typically do only a handful of Invisalign cases in a year. It is important to go to a specialist who is trained specifically in the field of tooth movement and practices his or her craft on a daily basis.

Experienced Orthodontist= Outstanding Final Results

When it comes to straightening teeth, experience matters most – even among orthodontists.

Here is a good analogy – if you’re going to hire someone to paint the interior of your home, would you choose the painter who just started painting and has completed only a few jobs? Or, would you hire the painter who’s been painting homes every day for the past fifteen years? After all, paint is paint.

Why are direct-to-consumer aligners not a good idea?

So the real question is, “Why choose the more experienced painter?”

There are four major reasons:

  • The experienced painter will be more efficient
  • The experienced painter will provide a guarantee
  • The experienced painter’s product will be of the highest quality
  • The experienced painter’s results will look good for many years

If you’ve ever needed a home repair or update, you know already that not all contractors are the same. They’re all putting paint on walls, but the results and your experience during and afterward… will be totally different based on who you hire for the job. With Invisalign, we are talking about something considerably more important and complex than paint on walls – but the same rules apply. You want someone with extensive Invisalign experience to ensure that your teeth are looking and feeling as good as possible for the rest of your life.

How to find an Experienced and Reputable Invisalign Orthodontist

Good news! Invisalign has made it easy for consumers to find an experienced orthodontist using Invisalign’s “Doctor locator” Tool. This tool can be found on their website here. To use this tool, all you have to do is:

  • Type in your zip code
  • Hit Search
  • Review Invisalign doctors in your area

You can sort these search results by patient’s age (teens versus adults), dentists/orthodontists, distance from where you live, and “Tier level”.

The two most important search parameters are whether the Invisalign provider is a dentist or an orthodontist and the tier level. “Tier Level” is a metric that shows how many Invisalign cases the doctor starts each year. Providers in the Gold Plus Tier and above typically treat more than 100 patients a year with Invisalign. This is a good indicator of the orthodontist’s level of experience with the Invisalign system. Yet, there are other factors to consider when choosing an Invisalign orthodontist.

Here are some questions to ask your orthodontist before making your decision:

• How long have you been treating patients with Invisalign?

• How many cases have you treated in your practice with Invisalign?

• What Invisalign training have you done (meetings, peer-to-peer groups, advanced Invisalign courses, online continuing education, etc.)?

• Have you successfully treated other cases like mine with Invisalign?

• Is your practice exclusive to Invisalign?

In conclusion, be an informed consumer and employ common sense in order to make the right choice for your orthodontic care.

Smile… you are already halfway there!

Do you live in Santa Fe, NM, or our neighboring areas? Let Visage Orthodontics, your local Invisalign expert, be a part of the team that gives you a smile you can trust and believe in! Call us at 505-670-6145 or visit our contact page for a complimentary consultation.

DIY aligners — Safe or Sorry?

Over the past couple of years, many companies have begun offering DIY or direct to consumer aligners in response to the success and growing orthodontic market share of Invisalign. These start up companies tout their products as a simpler, more cost-effective solution to straighten teeth. The BIG question is, are these products safe and effective?

This vs that…

What is the process for DIY aligners?

SmileDirectClub, Candid, EasySmile, Dandy, Byte are among some of the companies offering DIY clear aligners. For a small initial fee, the “patient” receives a kit with instructions on how to take their own dental impressions and upload photos of their teeth using a smartphone. Consumers are also asked to sign a pledge that they have seen a dentist and had X-rays taken. While none of these companies asks to see the X-ray images, a dentist “on staff’ determines if the case is suitable for treatment. If approved, the treatment fee is about $2000.


Things to consider with DIY aligners

In simple cases, some patients will achieve benefits. Will this type of treatment address important issues regarding the bite relationship or the health of the jaw joints and gums, as it relates to the orthodontic problem? No, it cannot. It behooves the patient to determine what is right for themselves first by seeking a complete diagnosis from an orthodontic specialist. Bypassing the orthodontist results in the patient making decisions about their care based only on what they perceive as important – not what is medically appropriate. Only a trained and certified orthodontist has the knowledge to determine what is best for a patient.

What can go wrong with DIY orthodontics?

There are many things that can potentially go wrong DIY orthodontic treatment. We’re not saying these happen to everyone who uses direct to consumer orthodontics, but there are significant risks.

Gum Disease & Gum Loss

Before any orthodontic treatment begins, it’s important that a dentist or orthodontist check a patient’s gums and supporting bone for any sign of periodontal disease. If teeth are moved within diseased gums, there is a risk of long-term damage and subsequent gum recession.

Teeth Movement

Sure, you might be successful in moving your teeth with DIY methods, but will they move in the right direction or at the right angle? It takes years of experience to know how to shift teeth into their desired position in a safe and effective way. If not, teeth may be prone to relapse or undesirable wear due to improper positioning.

Loss of Bone and Teeth

The worst outcome for a person doing DIY orthodontics is to lose a tooth or loss of bone that holds teeth in place. Both have a devastating impact. The cost to place an implant and crown to replace a lost tooth will far exceed the initial DIY treatment fee.

Dissatisfaction with the Result

Many people are heartbroken when their mail order orthodontics doesn’t deliver the result they had hoped (or were promised). They may have spent years wishing they could fix their teeth and when they saw the ad for budget orthodontics, they thought it would answer their wishes. Now their only option is to live with the outcome or pay an orthodontist to achieve the desired result.

DIY Beware!

Just because a consumer could straighten their own teeth doesn’t mean that they should. There is a legitimate reason why orthodontists acquire seven years of post-college education to become experts at the science and art of orthodontics. It is naive to think that such qualifications can be matched by an “ortho-by-mail” and without a supervision process. DIY orthodontics could cause permanent damage to teeth, such as root shortening, bone or tooth loss, tooth decay or other serious problems.

Taking care of your smile should be important. Let Visage Orthodontics, your Santa Fe Invisalign expert, be a part of the team that gives you a smile you can trust and believe in! Call us at 505-670-6145 or visit our contact page for a complimentary consultation.

7 Things to Know Before Starting Invisalign

Straightening teeth is serious business even though it is all about making beautiful smiles. As with any medical or dental procedure, it is important to get as much information as possible so that you can make the best informed decision. Here are some things to consider when looking into treatment with Invisalign clear aligners.

There is a big difference between DIY orthodontic aligner treatment and Invisalign treatment. Some online DIY orthodontic companies make their treatment sound so easy. Perhaps you take a selfie and/or an impression of your teeth or get your teeth scanned. Next, you receive aligners in the mail and after so many months – straight teeth! Right? What else is there to think about? Well, there is a lot to think about. Moving teeth orthodontically is challenging and involves many factors to achieve a healthy, aesthetic, and functional smile.

Unmonitored treatment can lead to potentially irreversible and expensive damage such as tooth and gum loss, changed bites and other issues.

Consider this question:

What transforming medical treatment would you undergo without an in-person, pre-treatment evaluation or ongoing in-person supervision from a medical professional?

Invisalign is the leader in clear aligner therapy with over 20 years of experience, industry leading research and development, plus successful treatment of over 6 million cases Invisalign invests a significant amount of time and money to continually enhance their system in order to achieve the best clinical outcomes. Why choose the rest when you can have the best – your smile is worth it!

1 – Your teeth and mouth should be in optimal health prior to starting Invisalign treatment.

Moving teeth orthodontically puts strain and stress on the gums and bone that support your teeth. It is critical that the overall health of your mouth is optimal potential problems should be addressed and corrected before starting your Invisalign treatment. In addition, you should advise your dentist and hygienist that you are interested in pursuing Invisalign. They may recommend completing certain restorative procedures such as crowns or fillings in advance. The Invisalign aligners are designed and manufactured to custom fit to your teeth. If there are any changes to the anatomy of your teeth during your treatment (such as a new crown), the aligners may not fit and a new scan will need to be made. This can create a delay in the overall length of treatment.

2 – One other thought on caring for your teeth during Invisalign treatment.

Your dentist or hygienist may advise that you come more frequently for teeth cleanings to closely monitor the health of your gums. Consequently, it may be advisable to have three to four dental checkups per year. Remember the goal is to not only give you the best smile but also maintain the health of your mouth!

3 – Don’t rule yourself out as an Invisalign candidate

Many patients have been told that they are not good candidates for Invisalign treatment or that Invisalign is not appropriate for their type of bite. This is simply not true! With advances in the Invisalign system, almost every type of malocclusion can now be treated with Invisalign aligners. And in many cases, the final result will be superior to what can be achieved with traditional braces. The critical factor is the experience of the Invisalign provider.

Moving teeth with plastic is a lot different from moving teeth with braces. Orthodontists have 2 to 3 years of advanced training in moving teeth and typically the more cases an orthodontist has completed with Invisalign, the better the results. So keep on looking until you find a provider that says “Yes” for your Invisalign treatment!

4 – Age is not a factor in moving teeth.

Teeth are designed to biologically move and adjust throughout your lifetime. Teeth can be straightened whether you are 8 or 80! Don’t let age be a factor in determining whether you want to improve the fit and alignment of your teeth. If your current bite is causing damage or making it difficult to clean your teeth, don’t wait. Every dentist will tell you that the best oral health comes from having your own natural teeth intact and present. Fillings, veneers, crowns, bridges, and/or implants have their place, but they are not the same as your real teeth. Be proactive and fix small problems before they become big problems. It is never too late!

5 – Invisalign costs the same as traditional braces

For most people, cost is a concern. A common misconception is that Invisalign, which is perceived as a superior or more “advanced” treatment, is going to be more expensive than traditional forms of orthodontic care. This is not the case! Most practices charge the same for Invisalign as they do for braces. The goal is to provide the right treatment for you and to make sure that cost is not a barrier to getting Invisalign treatment.

6 – Invisalign cases typically treat out faster than traditional braces cases.

One of the great advantages is that Invisalign cases can typically be treated in a shorter time frame than similar cases treated with braces. You may wonder how this can be possible. It has to do with a couple of key factors:


    • First, the forces applied by Invisalign aligners are more gentle but continuous in nature. This allows the supporting bone and gums to respond to tooth movements in a healthier and natural biological manner. This results in less inflammation and more rapid tooth movement.
    •  Second, the design of the Invisalign system is such that all tooth movements are programmed for simultaneous and predictable positioning of the teeth with each set of aligners. This is a different process than with traditional braces where adjustments are made at one appointment and each subsequent appointment is a response to the prior tooth adjustments.
    • A good analogy is that Invisalign is like taking a straight path from point A to point B. With traditional braces, it is like taking a path with small zigzags to get to the same destination. What path would you rather walk?

7 – Invisalign is more comfortable than traditional braces

Whatever you have heard about moving teeth – throw out with yesterday’s spoiled trash. Invisalign is by far and away more comfortable than traditional braces. Most patients experience less discomfort with Invisalign and typically the soreness lasts for less than a day. In addition, the aligners feel smooth in the mouth and rarely cause any type of irritation to the inside of the lips and cheeks. Furthermore, when starting treatment, the adjustment time to adapting to the first set of aligners is short (1 to 2 days) versus weeks of adjustment to traditional braces. Last, there are no emergencies with Invisalign. No poking wires, broken brackets, cuts to the lips from an inadvertent bump to the mouth etc. All the more reasons to choose Invisalign to move your teeth!


If you have questions about the benefits of Invisalign treatment, please call Visage Orthodontics at 505-670-6145 or visit our appointment page to schedule a complimentary consultation with me, Dr. Tanner, your Santa Fe Invisalign specialist. I will review everything in detail and develop a customized treatment plan to fit your lifestyle and budget. A confident and beautiful smile is right around the corner!

The Clear Winner: Invisalign vs Braces

Why choose Invisalign over Braces? This is a common question that I hear from patients. There are many great reasons to choose Invisalign over traditional braces, but the number one reason is comfort, comfort, comfort!

Photo by Mali Maeder from Pexels

Braces can cause several issues—problems that don’t exist with an Invisalign clear aligner treatment. For example:

First, braces protrude off the teeth, which may result in cuts and sores inside your mouth. Wax is often prescribed to aid with this issue, but it can be challenging to get the wax to stick in a wet environment.

Second, the arch wires that run through the braces sometimes slide back & forth and poke the back of your cheeks, making it uncomfortable to talk or eat.

Third, braces can come loose, or an appliance can break at an inconvenient time (think Saturday night at the movies or while out to dinner).

Fourth, with braces, you are advised to stay away from hard, sticky foods and modify snacks to prevent damaging the wires or breaking brackets. It means cutting corn off the cob, trimming meat off ribs, slicing up apples and carrots, avoiding hard pizza crusts and chips, etc.

Also, there is nothing worse than eating a meal, having food stick to your braces, then excusing yourself to go to the bathroom to clean your teeth. Not the type of attention most of us would want!

Finally, braces make the teeth very sore for the 3-to-4 days following an adjustment. This can adversely affect your daily activities like eating, sleeping, and being able to focus.


The Invisalign Advantage

Invisalign treatment provides a gentle, more natural way to correct the alignment of your teeth. It mitigates the discomfort and trauma associated with traditional braces. And no emergencies!

Invisalign is a removable system. So the trays will be taken out when eating and cleaning your teeth. This is a significant benefit because there are no limitations on what you eat or how to prepare your favorite foods while straightening your teeth. Best of all, once you are done eating, there are no extra steps to clean your teeth with Invisalign. Just brush and floss as you have always done.

Studies have shown that oral hygiene is much better with removable aligners. There is less chance of gum disease, decay, and decalcification (those pesky white permanent scars on the teeth after traditional orthodontic treatment).

There are, of course, the aesthetic benefits of wearing nearly invisible aligners versus braces. Most patients will tell you that their family and friends did not even know they were undergoing orthodontic treatment. This is especially important for teens and working adults who prefer to keep their “smile under construction” anonymous.

Other benefits of an Invisalign treatment may not be as obvious.

  • An Invisalign treatment typically is more efficient than braces, and most smiles and bite corrections can be completed within 12 months or less.
  • Invisalign costs the same or sometimes less than traditional braces.
  • Invisalign can act as a night guard if you grind or clench your teeth at night.
  • For sports enthusiasts, Invisalign can serve as a mouth guard and protect your teeth from harm while playing your favorite sport.
  • Invisalign has completed over 6 million cases and is the #1 orthodontic aligner company in the world.

Ultimately, Invisalign is committed to providing the most advanced, cutting edge clear aligner on the market – a product backed by over 20 years of research and development.

So which system is the clear winner in the world of straightening teeth? Definitely Invisalign!

If you have questions about the benefits of Invisalign treatment, please call Visage Orthodontics at 505-670-6145 or visit our appointment page to schedule a complimentary consultation with me, Dr. Tanner, your Santa Fe Invisalign specialist. I will review everything in detail and develop a customized treatment plan to fit your lifestyle and budget. A confident and beautiful smile is right around the corner!

Invisalign’s Product Line: More Than Just Aligners!

When the public thinks about the brand, Invisalign, the first image that comes to mind is clear aligners. This is Align Technology’s mainstay, but the company has several other offerings for various aspects of tooth straightening, retention, cleaning products, and teeth whitening. All these offerings make Invisalign the most comprehensive clear aligner system on the market. In addition, Align continues to invest heavily in their products, pouring millions of dollars annually into R&D to stay out in front of their competition!

Let’s dive into the various components of the Invisalign system…

  • Invisalign Aligners: All Invisalign aligners are made with SmartTrack® material that was introduced by Align technology, Invisalign’s parent company, in 2013. This proprietary material provides for a precise fit, greater comfort, superior tooth control and increased tooth movement for a more predictable outcome. Invisalign also has SmartForce® attachments which are used in conjunction with their aligners. These small tooth-colored shapes are attached to the teeth to provide extra “grip”. As a result, more complex tooth movements are possible, yet these attachments are barely noticeable. Finally, Invisalign recently introduced SmartStage® technology which optimizes the progression of movements, applies precise control of an individual tooth or multiple teeth, and minimizes interferences during treatment.

Invisalign in Carrying Case

  • Invisalign Lite and Express Aligners: Invisalign offers several product lines which address simple or straightforward orthodontic corrections. These options work well if a patient has had previous orthodontic treatment and has noticed some minor shifting. Invisalign Lite allows for up to 14 aligners while the Express options come with 5, 7 or 10 aligners. The fewer the aligners, the less expensive the lab cost is to the orthodontic office. Whereas a full Invisalign case typically costs $5000 to $6000, treatment fees with one of these options ranges from $2500 to $4000.

  • Invisalign First: Invisalign makes this product for the pre-teen; the ideal time to utilize Invisalign First is between the ages of 6 and 10. It is designed to develop the arches (for crowding), decrease flare of incisors, correct crossbites, align anterior teeth, open or close bites, and/or reduce overbites. In addition, Invisalign First can incorporate a unique component in their aligners: the Mandibular Advancement Feature. These special wings, built into the back of the aligners, guide the lower jaw forward to improve the child’s facial appearance, flatten the profile, and diminish excess overbite.

  • Vivera Retainers: Invisalign offers a set of 4 retainers which can be purchased by the patient. The fee for these retainers is between $400 and $600. A new scan is done at the end of treatment and it takes about a week for the retainers to arrive at the orthodontic office. Vivera retainers are 30% stronger, custom fit, and twice as durable as other clear retainer materials. If Vivera retainers need to be reordered, simply contact your orthodontic office. Align keeps a digital file on record and a new set of retainers can be quickly manufactured.


  • Invisalign Cleaning Crystals, Spray and Foam: Invisalign makes a full product line of cleaning supplies to keep aligners clean and fresh. The cleaning crystals are designed to add to water and the trays are soaked for about 15 minutes to remove plaque buildup. The spray and foam can be used daily to keep the aligners odor free, hygienic, and clean.

  • Invisalign Professional Whitening System and Whitening Pen: Opalesence, one of the leaders in teeth bleaching products, is the maker of Invisalign’s Whitening System. The bleaching gel can be applied at the patient’s orthodontic visits or at home. It does not matter if there are attachments on the teeth or if the patient is in retention. It can be used with Invisalign aligners and Vivera retainers. The Whitening Pen is another option. It can be used up to 4 times per day, has a mint flavor and a gentle formulation. It is not as effective as the Whitening System, but better for someone who has sensitive teeth.

As you can see, there is a complete product line from Invisalign to address all the needs of an orthodontic patient. Just another reason why Invisalign is the #1 choice for clear aligner therapy!

If you have questions about the benefits of Invisalign treatment, please call Visage Orthodontics to schedule a visit with Dr. Tanner, your Santa Fe Invisalign specialist. Dr. Tanner will review everything in detail and develop a customized treatment plan to fit your lifestyle and budget. A confident and beautiful smile is right around the corner!

7 Questions to Ask Before Starting Invisalign

You have finally made the decision to move forward and straighten your teeth with Invisalign. Now it is time to find an orthodontist in your area who is a certified Invisalign provider. You select a couple of experienced orthodontists from the doctor locator tool on Invisalign’s website. How do you choose the right orthodontist for you? Here are seven important questions to ask at the initial exam to help you decide.

1. How long will my treatment take?

This is the most essential question. Most patients are very compliant if treatment takes 12 months or less. Compliance with the aligners begins to decline after 1 year and drops significantly after 18 months. If treatment can be completed in a year or less, then there is a good chance for a successful outcome. Efficient treatment in a reasonable period of time is key.

2. Will I be changing my aligners every week or 2 weeks?

The original protocol for Invisalign aligner changes was every 2 weeks. In 2013, Invisalign developed a new material called SmartTrack which had more elasticity and moved teeth more efficiently. Invisalign modified their protocol for aligner changes to every week, but many orthodontists continue to hold onto the old two-week protocol. This, unnecessarily, results in longer treatment times.

3. Will I need to have a tooth or teeth removed?

Most Invisalign treatment cases can be completed without the removal of a tooth or teeth but there are times when extractions are necessary to alleviate crowding or correct overbites. If tooth removal is required, be sure to ask the orthodontist for the rationale behind the extractions so that you feel comfortable with this decision.

4. Will I have black triangles after my teeth are aligned?

As part of informed consent, an orthodontist will usually advise the patient if he or she thinks black triangles will be present post treatment. Black triangles reveal themselves when overlapped teeth are straightened, thus altering their interproximal contact. This contact moves more incisal (toward the edge of the tooth) but the gum tissue does not follow leaving a dark space. These dark triangles can be minimized by recontouring the sides of the incisors to broaden contact points.

5. Will I need my teeth slenderized (interproximal reduction)?

There are three valid reasons for slenderizing anterior teeth. The first is to provide additional space to align crowded teeth to prevent over-expansion or tipping. This can be a viable solution to avoid extraction of teeth in certain situation. The second reason is to reduce excess overbite in cases where a patient is a non-growing teen or adult. Again, this is an alternative to removing teeth for the same purpose. The last reason is to eliminate triangular spaces that develop once overlapped teeth are aligned.

6. Will braces be necessary as part of my treatment?

95% of Invisalign cases can be fully treated without the need for braces at either the beginning or end of treatment. There are a few situations where braces can be useful to help at the start of treatment (typically with extraction cases) or at the end (to fine tune a stubborn tooth or teeth that is being resistant to moving). An orthodontist will be able to anticipate most of these situations.

7. Are there any additional charges with my treatment?
Most orthodontic offices charge a comprehensive fee that covers all Invisalign aligners (plus any refinements) along with one set of retainers. Be wary of low treatment fees at an office because they may tack on additional charges for refinement aligners, retainers, retainer visits etc. Be sure to ask exactly what the fee covers and if there are any additional fees that can be anticipated with treatment.

As with any medical care, the informed consumer is the smart consumer. Don’t be afraid to ask your questions before making a final decision about which office is right for you!

If you have questions about the benefits of Invisalign treatment, please call Visage Orthodontics to schedule a visit with Dr. Tanner, your Santa Fe Invisalign specialist. Dr. Tanner will review everything in detail and develop a customized treatment plan to fit your lifestyle and budget.

A confident and beautiful smile is right around the corner!