General, Cosmetic, and TMJ Dentists Serving Arlington, South Riding, and Nearby Areas of Northern Virginia
Your teeth are one of the first features other people notice when they meet you, and having a straight, beautiful smile is one of the easiest ways to make a great first impression. In addition to improving the appearance of your smile, straight teeth are crucial to your ability to maintain the health and function of your teeth.
At Arlington Dental Aesthetics and South Riding Smiles, we offer a variety of orthodontic treatment options to help you achieve the straight teeth necessary for optimal oral health and a beautiful smile. In recent years, our most popular orthodontic option has been Invisalign®.
If you would like to find out whether Invisalign or one of our other orthodontic options will be right for you, please contact us to schedule a consultation. Call 703-527-1020 for an appointment at our Arlington location or 703-327-7705 for an appointment at our South Riding location.
- What is Invisalign?
- Am I a Candidate for Invisalign?
- How Does Invisalign Work?
- Invisalign Express
- Invisalign Teen
- How Long Does Invisalign Take?
- What Is the Best Way to Clean My Invisalign Aligners?
- How Many Hours a Day Do I Have to Wear Invisalign?
- Is Invisalign Painful?
- What Happens if I Break One of My Aligner Trays?
- When Can I Start Expecting to See a Difference Using Invisalign?
- How Are My Invisalign Aligner Trays Made?
- What Happens if I Forget to Put My Invisalign Aligners in for A Day?
- Are there Special Diet and Oral Hygiene Requirements with Invisalign?
- How Much Does Invisalign Cost?
- Other Orthodontic Treatment Options
- Contact our Northern Virginia Dentists
What Is Invisalign?
If you’ve considered orthodontics in the past but have avoided treatment due to the hassles and unsightly appearance associated with conventional metal braces, then Invisalign may be an excellent option for you.
Invisalign uses a series of clear, removable plastic aligners to straighten your teeth. These aligners are virtually undetectable by others, and they provide an effective alternative to traditional metal braces for adults and teenagers.
The Invisalign system offers several benefits:
- The customized BPA-free aligners can be conveniently removed, so you can care for your teeth just like you always have. Brushing and flossing is much easier with Invisalign than with other orthodontic options.
- The ability to remove your aligners also means that you won’t need to stop enjoying the foods you love while undergoing treatment.
- Because the aligner trays are clear, your treatment will be virtually unnoticeable to others.
- The smooth, form-fitting plastic used to make your aligners will be custom-molded to the unique contours of your mouth, ensuring a comfortable fit. You also get to eliminate the painful sessions required to tighten the metal brackets and wires used with braces.
- Since there are no wires to tighten, there are less follow-up visits associated with Invisalign than are required with traditional braces.
- In many cases, Invisalign treatment can be completed much quicker than treatment with conventional metal braces.
- Your aligners are custom-designed at the Invisalign lab, ensuring they address your unique oral health needs.
Am I A Good Candidate For Invisalign?
Good candidates for Invisalign:
- Have a fully developed mouth (adults and most teenagers meet this criteria)
- Do not suffer from tooth decay, gum disease, or other oral health issues
- Do not smoke or are willing to quit throughout the treatment period
If you experience oral health issues such as gum disease or cavities, you may still qualify for Invisalign treatment once our dentists have treated these conditions.
In general, Invisalign is an effective way to address a wide range of orthodontic issues, including:
- Open bite
- Crowded teeth
- Gapped teeth
The best results are achieved with cases involving mild to moderate bite alignment issues. If you have a more severe orthodontic condition, an alternative such as traditional braces may be a better option for you.
How Does Invisalign Work?
Just as with traditional braces, Invisalign works by gradually shifting the position of your teeth over an extended period of time. However, the modality used to achieve this shift differs significantly for each option. Braces use a set of brackets and wires to shift your teeth, while Invisalign uses a series of removable plastic aligners.
A digital impression of your bite will be created using 3D computer imaging technology. The Invisalign lab will use this digital impression to create your customized set of aligners. Each aligner will be worn for approximately two weeks. After this time period, you’ll move onto the next aligner in the series and continue this process until you’ve completed the entire treatment.
It’s crucial that you wear your aligners for 20-22 hours each day in order to achieve the best possible results. You can remove your aligners when you eat and brush your teeth, but you should keep them in at all other times, including while you sleep. If you are at a special function such as a wedding, you can remove the aligners for pictures, but it’s recommended that you wear them throughout the rest of the event.
What Is Invisalign Express?
If you only need to correct very minor crowding or spacing issues, Invisalign Express may be a great solution to consider. This option works similarly to traditional Invisalign, but the treatment time is significantly shorter. Traditional Invisalign treatment generally requires between 20-30 aligners to straighten your teeth, but Invisalign Express can be completed using 10 aligners or less. This abbreviated process allows you to complete treatment in approximately 6 months.
Due to the shortened nature of this procedure, there are stricter criteria for Invisalign Express candidacy:
- Less than 2 mm of spacing or crowding per arch
- Less than 2 mm of midline correction required
- Minimal rotation of the cuspids, bicuspids and incisors
- Less than 1.5 mm of dental expansion required per arch
If your bite alignment issues are more complex, it doesn’t rule you out as a candidate for Invisalign. However, you may need to go through the full Invisalign treatment instead of Invisalign Express in these situations. Schedule your Invisalign Express appointment today!
What Is Invisalign® Teen?
You don’t have to be an adult to experience the benefits of Invisalign. Teenagers who need to undergo orthodontic treatment can take advantage of Invisalign® Teen, which offers the same great benefits as the adult version.
The invisible nature of this treatment is often equally appealing to teenagers as it is to adults, as many teens prefer not to walk the halls at school with a “mouth full of metal.” In fact, a survey found that teenagers with Invisalign were 68% less likely to be teased than teenagers with braces.
Many athletic teenagers find this to be an ideal option since the aligners can be removed when special mouthguards are required during contact sports such as football. In other athletic settings, the Invisalign aligners can be left in place since they won’t interfere with your ability to participate in your favorite sports.
Just as with adults, Invisalign Teen may not be the right solution for everyone. You can find out if Invisalign Teen will deliver the best results for your child by scheduling an evaluation with our dentists.
How Long Does Invisalign Take?
The length of time for Invisalign treatment varies based on the severity of your orthodontic issues. In general, treatment time for adults takes approximately 12 months. This is significantly less time than traditional braces, which typically require a two-year treatment period.
There is much more variability in the treatment time for teenagers. Factors impacting treatment time for teens include the amount of straightening required and how diligent your child is with wearing the aligners for the required 20-22 hours a day.
What Is the Best Way to Clean My Invisalign Aligners?
We’ll explain how to keep your trays clean. You have options. Because you can simply take out your aligners and brush them with your toothbrush, keeping both your teeth and your aligners clean is much easier than with traditional braces. You remove them and gently brush them every night with a toothbrush. You can also soak your aligners in denture cleaner, Retainer Brite®, or the official Invisalign® crystals to keep them clean and sanitized. Another option is to use clear anti-bacterial soft hand soap to clean your aligners. You simply use some of the liquid soap and squish it around your aligners with your fingers and then rinse them off.
How Many Hours a Day Do I Have to Wear Invisalign?
When we’re discussing the Invisalign system with a patient, we stress the importance of wearing the aligners for 20-22 hours every day. This may seem like a long time, but once a person is used to wearing the aligners, they usually forget they are even on their teeth. Plus, consider that traditional braces are on your teeth 24 hours a day. You remove the aligners to eat and for brushing and flossing (and maybe if you play trumpet or French horn in the band), but otherwise they need to be on your teeth. Each aligner needs to keep the subtle pressure on the teeth to move them, and this requires 20-22 hours a day.
Is Invisalign Painful?
You will have some discomfort when you put a new Invisalign tray into service. This is similar to what happens with traditional braces when the wires are tightened or the rubber bands are changed. But the soreness with Invisalign isn’t as dramatic as with traditional braces.
The reason for the soreness is that the new aligner tray is placing new pressure on your teeth to move them to the next position in the progression. This is akin to the pressure when braces are adjusted.
This soreness only lasts a day or two for most patients, but it can vary. Using a cold compress, sucking on ice cubes, or using over-the-counter pain relievers can handle the discomfort for most patients.
What Happens if I Break One of My Aligner Trays?
It’s not easy to do, as you should not eat or drink anything with your aligner trays on your teeth. But if you do break one of your aligners, we can have another tray fabricated at the Align plant. If you are close to the next sequence, Dr. Oh/Dr. Lee/Dr Dillon may feel you can progress to the next pair of aligners. It depends on the timing of when you break a tray.
When Can I Start Expecting to See a Difference Using Invisalign?
How soon you’ll notice changes with the alignment of your teeth varies by the patient. It also depends on what movement we’re making. If it’s something as simple as closing a gap on your front teeth, you may start to see a difference after just a couple aligner trays. But instant results are not really the goal; it’s the end result and placement of your teeth that matters.
How Are My Invisalign Aligner Trays Made?
The information we gathered from your 3D imaging scans is sent digitally to Align Technology, the company behind Invisalign. In the Align Technology plant an automated process divides the desired movements into a series of “baby” steps, and each step is a new aligner tray. These custom trays specific only to the patient are then printed with a 3D printer. From there, a piece of plastic is heated, pressure adapted, trimmed, and polished to finish off each custom aligner. The aligners are then bagged in sequence and shipped to our offices in Arlington and South Riding.
What Happens if I Forget to Put My Invisalign Aligners in for A Day?
A single day doesn’t affect your treatment, although you do want to be as disciplined as possible when it comes to wearing your aligners. Any time you have them off is time they are not doing their job moving your teeth.
Are There Special Diet And Oral Hygiene Requirements With Invisalign?
One of the greatest benefits of Invisalign is that the aligners are removable. As a result, many of the restrictions and special care requirements associated with braces don’t exist when you straighten your teeth with Invisalign.
Since you remove your aligners when you eat, you can enjoy all of your favorite foods without the concerns that typically exist with braces. Similarly, oral hygiene is very easy with Invisalign. Just remove your aligners when you brush and floss. This will allow you to follow your normal brushing routine without the need for the special toothbrushes commonly required when you have braces.
How Much Does Invisalign Cost?
The cost of Invisalign treatment varies from patient to patient. Factors that may impact the cost of your procedure include:
- The severity of your bite alignment issues
- The number of aligners required to complete your treatment
- The need for aftercare devices such as a nighttime retainer
In general, Invisalign treatment is typically more expensive than traditional braces, but the benefits are well worth this additional expense. In addition, many dental insurance providers now cover the cost of Invisalign treatment (or at least a portion of the cost). You’ll need to check with your insurance carrier to find out whether your treatment is covered.
At Arlington Dental Aesthetics and South Riding Smiles, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to achieve a straight, beautiful smile. We offer a variety of financing options to ensure the cost of your Invisalign treatment will fit into your budget.
We work with most major dental insurance providers. In addition, we offer third-party financing through CareCredit. You can choose from a variety of payment plans, including no-interest and low-interest repayment options. We also offer our patients the Healthy Smiles Advantage Savings Plan, a discount program that will allow you to receive a percentage off of all your dental treatments during the year. There is a small annual fee to enroll in this program.
Other Orthodontic Treatment Options
Every patient has unique needs and your ideal treatment depends on a number of factors, including the condition of your oral structure, your budget and your lifestyle. In some instances, Invisalign may not be the right option to deliver the best results. In order to provide the high quality orthodontic treatment you deserve, we also offer alternative solutions for those individuals who aren’t ideal Invisalign candidates.
Our dentists will work closely with you or your child to determine which orthodontic option is best. Some of our other treatment options include:
- Traditional metal braces: Not only are metal braces still incredibly popular, they are now smaller and more comfortable than ever. Metal braces are crafted from high-grade stainless steel and have proven their effectiveness for generations of adults and children alike.
- Clear (ceramic braces): Working much like traditional braces, these braces use a clear ceramic material that blends in with your natural teeth. This is a great option for adults who may not qualify for Invisalign treatment but still want a more discreet way to straighten their teeth.
Contact Our Northern Virginia Dentists
If you’d like to learn more about Invisalign or some of our other orthodontic options, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with one of our dentists. Please call 703-527-1020 for an appointment at our Arlington location or 703-327-7705 for an appointment at our South Riding location. We serve patients throughout the Northern Virginia area.