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!

Added Benefits of Invisalign Treatment

Beyond Straight Teeth

There are so many benefits that come with straightening your teeth—many of which are obvious. Straight teeth are easier to keep clean which means a healthier oral environment and more comfortable dental check-ups. In addition, teeth that are properly positioned wear and function correctly, minimizing the chance of future damage or breakage that can lead to expensive dental repair and/or replacement. Last, an attractive smile enhances self-esteem which helps one feel more confident.

Surprisingly, there are some wonderful hidden benefits of Invisalign treatment both during and after the process. These benefits are most closely associated with clear aligner therapy and not typically seen with traditional braces. Many patients are pleasantly surprised when learning about these lesser-known advantages!

The first of these benefits is a change in one’s diet and eating habits while undergoing orthodontic care with Invisalign

Since Invisalign aligners need to be worn 20 to 22 hours per day and removed while eating, many patients find themselves cutting out snacks. In so doing, patients end up eliminating many of the high sugar, fat and carbohydrate foods which are typical of “between meal” food choices. As a result, patients report losing weight and feeling healthier while undergoing Invisalign treatment. Many patients choose to avoid snacking even after treatment due to the positive benefits experienced during their Invisalign journey.

A second benefit is a much greater focus on oral hygiene. Most patients usually brush once or twice a day prior to beginning Invisalign.

After starting treatment, toothbrushing typically increases to at least three times a day (after each meal or snack). In addition, the initial stages of Invisalign involves creating space (prior to de-rotating to align) and patients find themselves flossing on a regular basis to remove food caught between their teeth. Many hygienists report that their “active” Invisalign orthodontic patients show better gingival health and cleaner teeth. Best of all, once the treatment is complete, these established habits remain in place and patients have a greater commitment to keeping the teeth and gums healthy now that their teeth are straight.

A third benefit is a decrease in nighttime bruxism or daytime clenching.

Many patients carry stress in their jaws and don’t realize they are grinding their teeth together, which can cause unwanted wear or enamel fractures. Fulltime aligner wear protects the teeth, and many times breaks the pattern of grinding—especially at night. Furthermore, if a patient is prone to clenching their teeth during the day, the plastic trays serve as a reminder to keep the teeth apart and the jaw muscles relaxed.

A final benefit is a reduction in TMJ symptoms.

Many TMJ sufferers grind their teeth at night. By stopping this nocturnal habit, patients find that their TMJ symptoms decrease because they are no longer overloading their jaw joints and jaw closing muscles. As their bite is unlocked (teeth discluded), the muscles and the temporomandibular joint complex relax, diminishing inflammation. Consequently, headaches, pain, tenderness, jaw locking and other symptoms may subside. Furthermore, as treatment progresses, the teeth are moved into a favorable position which establishes a more stable and harmonious bite, better serving joint health.

Invisalign has many benefits, both obvious and not so obvious, that can make this system the right choice for you. Don’t discount the power of Invisalign treatment—it can be a game changer!

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!

Are Direct to Consumer Aligners Safe and Effective?

Direct-to-consumer aligners have gained more and more popularity. SmileDirectClub, Byte, NewSmile, AlignerCo are some of the well-known names in the industry. Most of these companies charge a fee that is 50% to 60% less than orthodontic care in a traditional office setting. In addition, these businesses state that treatment takes 6 months or less, patients are “overseen” by a licensed dentist and they offer a “nighttime only” version of their product (though treatment takes longer—up to 10 months). A quick Internet search shows that most patients are pleased with the service and results they receive. SmileDirectClub’s website has over 61,000 5-star reviews (out of 65,000 reviews) and Byte has a 4.6 rating based on 24,000+ reviews. Pretty enticing for someone seeking a simple and inexpensive way to straighten their teeth!!!

However, there is more to the story …

A deeper and more thorough Internet search reveals a truer picture about the safety and efficacy of direct-to-consumer aligners. There have been public warnings and litigation from dentists, orthodontists, the American Association of Orthodontists the American Dental Association, State Dental Boards, Congress, the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission regarding this type of orthodontic care. SmileDirectClub, the first company to offer this product, has been involved in multiple lawsuits since their inception in 2014. In addition, there have been thousands of complaints lodged against SmileDirectClub through the Better Business Bureau—issues ranging from customer service to treatment results. Finally, a search on YouTube brings up an abundance of “horror” stories or bad experiences from patients who used direct-to-consumer aligners and ended up with unsatisfactory results and in some cases, serious dental problems.

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

  • There is no pretreatment assessment by a dentist as to the health of the teeth and gums prior to the start of the treatment. It is the patient’s responsibility to make sure their mouth is disease free and in optimal condition before starting treatment.
  • There is no radiographic and clinical assessment of the teeth and occlusion by a trained professional which is paramount for the development of an accurate orthodontic treatment plan.
  • Unlocking the occlusion with aligners can sometimes lead to unwanted changes to the bite. This cannot be anticipated through a scan or at home impressions of the teeth but can be discovered with an accurate clinical exam.
  • Direct to consumer aligner companies state that “a dentist or orthodontist supervises treatment”—the truth is that a quick evaluation is done at the initial assessment as to the viability of the case. Thereafter, there is little oversight during orthodontic treatment. Furthermore, if it is a dentist who is responsible for “overseeing” treatment, dentists do not have the same level of training or experience as an orthodontist.
  • Direct to consumer aligner treatment can only correct mild malocclusions (mild crowding and spacing) even though they state that they can correct mild to moderate malocclusions. The more complicated the bite or malaligned the teeth, the less likely treatment will be successful. These systems do not have the sophistication of Invisalign, which is engineered to handle a much greater range of cases.
  • Successful orthodontic treatment requires direct supervision by an orthodontist on a regular basis to ensure proper tooth movement, monitor gingival health, assess TMJ function and make necessary adjustments/corrections throughout treatment. This is not possible with at home orthodontic care.

Candid, one of the former industry leaders in direct-to-consumer aligner therapy, recently made a major course change with their business model after recognizing that teledentistry was not in the best interest of their patients. Here is an excerpt from their CEO, Nick Greenfield:

“It was incredibly difficult to close the DTC business and our Studio doors; but, for us to live out our mission of helping as many people as possible access affordable and efficient care, we need to work in partnership, not in competition, with dental professionals.”

Candid now works directly with dental providers as a hybrid remote/in-office model.

On a final note, I reviewed before and after photos on SmileDirectClub’s website—their “success stories”. I looked at over 100 cases and came to the following assessment on their treatment results:

  • Insufficient leveling of the front teeth
  • Incomplete space closure
  • Teeth not fully aligned
  • Incomplete correction of crossbite(s)
  • Lack of vertical correction of deep bites
  • Insufficient correction of open bites
  • Increase in the “overbite”
  • Teeth moved too quickly

Gambling the health and well-being of your teeth and bite to at home orthodontic care is a risk not worth taking. Straightening teeth should be overseen by a professional—it is a type of medical care and treatment that requires the expertise of an orthodontist.

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!

Interproximal Reduction (IPR)

A key to Invisalign success!

One of the most important “tools” used with Invisalign treatment is interproximal reduction. Also known as IPR, this technique allows the orthodontist to address tooth size discrepancies, alleviate crowding, eliminate triangular spaces between teeth (from gum recession), reduce protrusion and modify tooth shape/form. Before getting into the specifics of these different indications, only an orthodontist or a skilled dentist can perform IPR.

  • Direct-to-consumer companies like Smile Direct Club, Byte, and Candid are severely limited in what cases they can successfully treat with their aligner systems because there is no way to perform “at home” IPR.

What is IPR? IPR involves removing a small amount of enamel along the sides of teeth. The amount of reduction typically ranges from .2mm to .5mm which is about the thickness of 2 to 5 sheets of paper. Enamel width is approximately 1.5mm so this procedure does not compromise the integrity of teeth. Most IPR is performed in the front of the mouth – typically on incisors and canines. Following IPR, the enamel surfaces are polished to preserve surface integrity and prevent plaque retention. The only residual effect from IPR can be a temporary increase to cold sensitivity.

How is IPR performed? First and foremost, the procedure does not require local anesthetic. If necessary, a small amount of topical anesthetic cream can be applied to the gums if polishing is to be done below the gum line. There are many different instruments or tools that can be used for IPR. The simplest is with sanding strips. These are either single- or double-sided thin metal strips with an abrasive coating that can gently remove enamel with a seesaw action. Another option is to use a diamond embedded disk with a protective shield on a slow speed hand piece. The rotating disk is slid between the contact of the teeth and moved in an up and down direction. The patient may feel some vibration but no discomfort. There are other tools, but these are the two most common.

Now let’s get into of the importance of IPR and why it is necessary for so many successful outcomes with clear aligner therapy. As mentioned earlier, IPR helps with the following situations with Invisalign treatment:

  1. Tooth size discrepancies
  2. Alleviation of crowding to avoid tooth or teeth extractions
  3. Elimination of black triangular spaces at gingival margins
  4. Reducing protrusion or flaring of incisors

Tooth size discrepancies occur when teeth (usually the upper lateral incisors) are narrow or there is a missing or extracted lower incisor. In either case, performing interproximal reduction in the opposite arch of the discrepancy (lower arch with small upper lateral incisors or upper arch with a missing / extracted lower incisor) will improve the coordination and fit of the top to bottom front teeth.

Many times, it is not desirable to extract a tooth or teeth to alleviate crowding. However, to prevent unwanted flaring of teeth, expansion of the arches and/or address the arch length discrepancies, the logical choice is to perform IPR. Up to 5mm of space can be gained by removing .5mm of enamel between 10 contacts in each arch. This amount of space gain is appropriate to alleviate mild to moderate crowding.

Flaring of teeth and/or over-expansion of the arches can lead to instability of the occlusion, relapse of alignment (crowding), and gum recession.

Black triangles develop below the contact points of teeth when there has been gum recession and the gum tissue no longer fill the space between the teeth. Black triangles also become apparent when teeth, that have been overlapped for a long time, are straightened with orthodontic treatment. Again, there is an absence of gum tissue to fill the interdental space leaving an unsightly “hole” or void. Reshaping the incisors so that the side walls are less divergent and more parallel allows the orthodontist to bring teeth closer together thus minimizing black triangles.

A final use of IPR is to reduce protrusion of upper teeth. Performing this procedure can dramatically improve the overbite without extracting maxillary teeth. An overbite of 5 to 7mm can be reduced to 2 to 4mm which is within the range of normal. Lip posture will also improve along with facial esthetics as the upper incisors are retracted.

IPR is a beneficial and important “tool” for successful clear aligner treatment. Don’t limit your options – go to a trained orthodontist for Invisalign. There are so many advantages with this amazing system!

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!

Is Invisalign Treatment Worth It?

Risk vs Reward

When deciding to undergo an elective medical or dental procedure, it is important to weigh both the benefits and drawbacks. Sometimes the advantages are so clear and/or the long-term health benefits so apparent, that the decision is an obvious “yes”. There are times however when the pros and cons of treatment seem to carry equal weight. A lot of people feel that orthodontic care falls into this category–until one takes a deeper look.

Before getting into the benefits of improving one’s smile and bite, let’s play the devil’s advocate and look at some of the downsides of embarking upon orthodontic treatment. The most obvious negative factors include the cost of care, the commitment of time, the associated discomfort and lifestyle modifications. Let’s take a little closer look at each of these, and specifically how each relates to Invisalign.

The average cost of Invisalign treatment today is between $5000 and $6000–which is the same fee for braces in most orthodontic offices. Interestingly, the average cost of orthodontic treatment in 1970 was $2000. If orthodontic treatment kept pace with inflation, then Invisalign/braces would cost over $15,000 in 2022! Amazingly, orthodontic treatment is a bargain compared to most consumer items. And, when you factor in orthodontic insurance benefits (which did not exist in the 70’s), it is an incredible value by today’s standards!

The next area that gives most people pause for starting orthodontic treatment is the time commitment:

  • Most adults and many teens dread the idea of undergoing 2 to 2.5 years of treatment—which is typical with a round of braces.
  • On the other hand, Invisalign is highly efficient. The prescribed precision tooth movements of the system allow for much shorter treatment. As a result, the majority of Invisalign cases can be completed in under a year. Furthermore, even the most difficult orthodontic Invisalign cases will treat out at least 6 months faster than similar cases treated with traditional braces.
  • In the grand scheme of things, most of us would agree that a 12-month obligation to straighten our teeth is a very doable goal.

The final and perhaps biggest negative issues to pursuing orthodontic care are the discomfort factor and lifestyle changes associated with treatment. Let’s face it—braces can be very uncomfortable. Each adjustment appointment results in sore teeth for 3 to 4 days. Not to mention the unsightly metal, the challenges keeping teeth clean, the food limitations and potential irritation from brackets and wires.The good news is that Invisalign circumvents these issues. The forces are lighter resulting in less tooth discomfort, there are no food restrictions, the aligners are virtually invisible and the regimen for keeping your teeth clean is unchanged!

HOW ABOUT THE PROS of orthodontic tooth movement—both the obvious and the not so obvious. Let’s face it, everyone loves a beautiful smile. An attractive smile lights up a room, puts people at ease, gives off a good first impression, radiates self-confidence, boosts self-esteem, and makes us feel younger. In addition, when you feel good about your teeth, you smile more! And the more you smile, the happier you FEEL—all of which boosts your immune system and improves overall health!! What a winning combination!!!

But there are so many underlying health benefits from having straight teeth that function properly and occlude in an ideal manner. Straight teeth are easier to clean—contacts are less tight and there are fewer places for food to hide making brushing and flossing more effective. In addition, when teeth fit properly both in a front to back and side to side relationship, there is reduced damage to the teeth resulting in less fractures to the crowns and wear to the enamel. Finally, the gingival tissue and underlying bone support are more healthy when teeth are in their proper axial angulation and the opposing dentition interlocks harmoniously.

So, when you put the pros and cons of orthodontic treatment on an imaginary scale—guess what? Invisalign treatment really does make sense—not only from a social/emotional perspective, but also from a big health benefit for your teeth and mouth. Invisalign treatment is easier than you think—AND WORTH IT!

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!

Invisalign Attachments: What is their purpose?

Attachments are a critical part of the Invisalign system – they allow orthodontists to successfully treat simple to complex malocclusions with a high degree of success.

  • Think of attachments as “grips” for teeth – mini anchors which allow the aligners to either securely latch onto teeth or apply specific pressure to a tooth.

This is important because teeth are very smooth (and very slippery when you add saliva). Teeth don’t provide natural ledges or undercuts to hold the aligners in place. Imagine trying to hold onto a pumpkin or watermelon seed!

Attachments are not random bumps that are placed on the teeth. They come in different sizes and shapes depending upon their purpose. In addition, their position on the teeth is critical to the outcome and success of treatment.

  • Who chooses the design and placement of the attachments? It is a combination of the algorithms of the software from Invisalign in conjunction with the clinical knowledge and experience of the orthodontist.

Too many attachments weaken the aligner and make them difficult to remove. Not enough attachments result in a less-than-ideal outcome. Many times, the orthodontist will override the design and placement of the software generated attachments based upon his or her experience with Invisalign and tooth movement. This is where the magic happens!

Once an Invisalign case is approved, a template with empty attachment wells is shipped with the aligners. A staff member tries in the attachment template to ensure a good fit. The template is then removed, the wells filled with tooth-colored resin, the teeth conditioned, and the template reinserted. A curing light is used to set the resin – it only takes a few seconds per tooth then the template is removed. Excess resin is cleaned off with either a handpiece or hand instrument. The first aligner is then placed to ensure a custom fit and the patient is encouraged to monitor the attachments throughout the duration of treatment. If additional aligners are required toward the end of treatment, some or all the existing attachments may be removed and new attachments placed.

Attachments can take a bit to get used to. They are not invisible but fortunately their tooth-colored appearance do not draw attention in the same manner that a full set of braces with archwires.You will not feel them with the aligners in place, but when you remove your aligners, they may slightly rub the inside of your cheek and lips. As time goes on, any irritation from the attachments will diminish and you will feel comfortable with the aligners either in or out.

  • Attachments will not stain or discolor.

As an aside, you cannot bleach your teeth while undergoing Invisalign treatment.
The attachments will not allow the bleach to flow under them.

This brings us to the issue of do-it-yourself orthodontic treatment like Smile Direct Club and Byte. Not only is there no orthodontic supervision with your care, but these companies are also limited in which cases they can successfully treat.

There is no way to place attachments on your teeth with direct-to-consumer companies which compromises the ability to address deep bites, open bites, moderate to severe rotations, extrusion/intrusion of specific teeth and A/P issues (i.e. overbite, underbite).

This is a serious handicap since many malocclusions fall into one or more of these categories. Unless you have a simple crowding or spacing issue (and your bite is good), please avoid these companies for your orthodontic treatment. You will be either greatly disappointed with the outcome, have created an even move unfavorable situation or require retreatment by an orthodontist.

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!

How to Clean and Care for Your Invisalign Aligners

Now that you are underway with your Invisalign treatment, it is important to properly care for your aligners and keep them as clean as possible. It isn’t as difficult as you might think and can be accomplished in a number of ways using either pre-made products or items you already have in your home.

The Importance of Caring for Your Invisalign Aligners

Keeping your aligners clean has many benefits. This will help you keep a healthier mouth as you work to transform your smile. You are brushing your teeth regularly, and perhaps rinsing with a mouthwash every morning. However, if you neglect to take proper care of your clear aligners, your teeth and breath may suffer.

How to clean your aligners

Caring for Invisalign aligners is easy and only takes a few minutes. You should get into the habit of cleaning your aligners every time you brush your teeth. In order to properly clean the aligners, you will need a toothbrush.

  • Rinse your aligners under lukewarm water that isn’t too hot or too cold.
  • With a soft-bristled toothbrush, using small, circular motions, gently brush the entire aligner, both inside and out.
  • Once you have completely brushed the inside and outside of the aligner, rinse it again under lukewarm water.
  • Carefully inspect the aligner for any calcium build-up. It appears as a cloudy, white film on the aligner.
  • If you do notice calcium buildup, soak the aligner in a denture or aligner cleaning solution according to the product’s instructions. Invisalign makes the Invisalign Cleaning System that is designed specifically for Invisalign aligners, but any denture or retainer cleaning solution will work.
  • Once you are finished cleaning your Invisalign aligners and your teeth, place the trays back in your mouth.

NOTE: You should not use toothpaste on your aligners. Toothpaste is abrasive and can cause scratching of the aligner, increasing plaque and tartar build-up

As an aside, rinse your aligners every time you remove them for eating or drinking. This holds true whether you have time to brush the aligners and is an important step to remove saliva build-up.

To soak or not to soak?

Although not necessary, some people prefer to soak their aligners in addition to their daily cleaning routine. This can be done every few days or once a week in the middle of your aligner cycle. It is important not to use hot water, as the heat may damage and distort your trays. Regardless of which method you select, always be sure to thoroughly rinse and brush your trays after soaking. Here are some options:

  • Invisalign Cleaning Crystals: This product is available online and in some retail stores where dental products are sold. It comes in single-use packets and is added to lukewarm water. As it dissolves, it cleans your tray aligners. This product recommends soaking for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Denture and Retainer Tablets: Denture and retainer tablets are available online or in retail stores that sell dental products. They work in a similar manner as cleaning crystals. Dissolve one tablet in warm water and soak your trays for 10 to 20 minutes. Caution: Some denture tablets having coloring that will stain your aligners. Select tablets with no coloring.
  • Baking soda and water: This mixture should be approximately 1 teaspoon of baking soda to about one-half to three-quarters cup of warm water. Soak your aligners in this solution for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Vinegar and water: This mixture is equal parts white vinegar and warm water. Soak trays for 20 to 30 minutes in this solution.

NOTE: It is not recommended soaking your aligners in mouthwash. Most mouthwashes have added color that will tint your aligners. Also, some mouthwashes contain alcohol, which can distort aligners.

Problem solving dirty or discolored aligner trays

Staining: Staining of aligners can occur when you leave them in while drinking coffee, tea, juice, wine or soda. Always remove the trays when drinking hot or colored liquids. Staining will also occur if the aligners are not kept clean on a regular basis. Finally, smoking with the aligners in place will definitely discolor the trays.

White film or chalkiness: Usually due to calcium build up or residue from not keeping the aligners clean– similar to tartar on your teeth. The best option is to clean the aligners daily to prevent the accumulation of these mineral deposits. If the deposits have already developed, then try one of the soaking options mentioned above.

Remember that your aligners are always in intimate contact with your teeth – keep them clean!!

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!

Can Nighttime Aligners Safely Move Teeth?

Many direct to consumer companies have been promoting nighttime aligners as the newest, most convenient way to move your teeth. These companies make it sound so simple and hassle free – wear your aligners 10 hours a day for about 10 months and presto, your teeth will be straight. Does this sound too good to be true? You bet it is because it runs counter to everything scientifically known about the physiology of tooth movement and long-term stability.

So what are the facts about tooth movement?
First and foremost, in order for teeth to move through bone, they need light continuous pressure, which means 20 to 22 hours per day of force. Why is this necessary? When a force is applied to a tooth, the periodontal ligament that surrounds the tooth is compressed on the pressure side and stretched on the tension side. Cells in the bone supporting the root are activated on both sides of the tooth – removing bone on the pressure side and laying down new bone on the tension side. It is important that this physiologic process not be interrupted so that inflammatory response can occur naturally. As a result, light continuous forces allow teeth to move through bone in a healthy and efficient manner.

Now, what is potentially happening with nighttime wear of aligners?
When the aligners are placed at night, the teeth feel pressure, initiate the inflammatory process and begin to move as the periodontal ligament is compressed. However, the force load is intermittent (when the aligners are removed during the day) and the teeth immediately begin to drift back to their original position. In addition, the forces of occlusion (inter-arch contacts) during chewing also reposition the newly moved teeth. As a result, this back and forth movement day in and day out causes continuous trauma to the teeth and supporting bone. This is not a healthy environment for the dentition and surrounding structures

So how do these companies get away with claiming that nighttime aligners work?
Because they specify that nighttime trays only work with patients who have very minor problems like a small amount of spacing between the teeth or very mild crowding. Even then, the chance of success or long-term stability is greatly diminished with nighttime aligner wear. Here is another thought – most orthodontists have their patients wear their retainers at nighttime to prevent shifting of teeth – they are not designed to move teeth. They’re used to make sure your teeth settle in place permanently.

“Wearing an invisible aligner only at nighttime to correct your teeth is like having a broken foot and wearing a cast only when you sleep” Dr. Hurst

Candid, one of the direct to consumer clear aligner companies, even wrote an online letter to their potential customers about their concerns with nighttime aligners. Here is an excerpt from that letter by their co-founder, Dr. Hurst:

“There have been no peer-reviewed studies published to date on the efficacy of nighttime aligners. At the end of the day, we need answers to a few basic questions: What exactly is this new “nightly wear technology”? How does this approach to aligner therapy differ from standard clear aligners? And how does this type of treatment impact one’s bio-physiology?
All that aside, I’ll admit it: Nighttime aligners basically sell themselves: “Now clear aligner therapy is more accessible and convenient than ever!” “Your care, on your schedule!” But, as doctors specializing in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics we have a clear responsibility to our patients: do no harm. Without more evidence that nighttime aligners are safe and effective, I can’t support nighttime aligner therapy at this point in time.”

I couldn’t agree more wholeheartedly with Dr. Hurst’s assessment of nighttime aligners: their proven lack of efficacy and their potential for harm. Consumers should not fall for marketing hype. Remember the old adage – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true!

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!