How does Invisalign work and why is it so expensive?

3rd March 2021

Categories: Invisalign
Lady looking in mirror with Invisalign aligners

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is a clear aligner system that’s been proven to correct 9 million patients’ smiles globally. These aligners are removable, almost invisible, and more comfortable than traditional braces or other types of clear aligners.

Invisalign uses a number of trays to gradually move your teeth to their desired positions. Each tray will be worn for an average of 2 weeks, and move your teeth up to 0.25mm. 

All you need to do is to wear your aligners for at least 20 – 22 hours per day (excluding mealtimes)! This treatment may last for a few months or years, depending on your teeth condition.

Learn more about Invisalign in our comprehensive guide!

Before you can start off with your Invisalign journey, you will need to first see an Invisalign accredited dentist for an assessment to find out your suitability for Invisalign.

During your first Invisalign consultation, an oral examination will be done. Your dentist will also chat with you to learn more about the teeth issues that you’d like to address.

A total of 5 intraoral photos will be taken from different angles: front view, right side, left side, upper teeth and lower teeth. This will allow your dentist to assess your teeth condition.

X-rays of your jaw, profile view (to showcase your facial skeletal structure) and detailed view of your upper and lower teeth will also be taken. 

Your dentist will then determine if there are any issues that need to be addressed before your Invisalign treatment.

3D images of your teeth will be taken using the iTero Element® scanner.

During your first Invisalign consultation, an oral examination will be done. Your dentist will also chat with you to learn more about the teeth issues that you’d like to address.

A total of 5 intraoral photos will be taken from different angles: front view, right side, left side, upper teeth and lower teeth. This will allow your dentist to assess your teeth condition.

X-rays of your jaw, profile view (to showcase your facial skeletal structure) and detailed view of your upper and lower teeth will also be taken. 

Your dentist will then determine if there are any issues that need to be addressed before your Invisalign treatment.

3D images of your teeth will be taken using the iTero Element® scanner.

How does Invisalign work?

Your Invisalign treatment plan is prepared based on an iTero scan and a proprietary ClinCheck® software.

iTero Element® scanner

The iTero Element® scanner is used to capture a digital 3D image of your teeth by stitching together thousands of images. The 3D image can then be sent over to Align Technology to manufacture your custom made aligners and your dentist can customise your treatment plan accordingly.

The iTero scanner offers a number of advantages including:

  • Comfort

    If you’ve taken physical dental impressions before, you’d know that it’s not the most comfortable experience. 

    With the iTero scanner, your teeth will be scanned accurately with a radiation-free laser within 2 – 3 minutes. Say goodbye to gagging sensations!

  • Accuracy

    The iTero Scanner also boasts precision in being able to capture an image of your teeth accurately. This means that 

    1. there will 10 times* fewer rejection cases as compared to physical impressions and
    2. your custom made aligners will fit you perfectly!

    *Data taken from iTero website.

  • Efficiency

    Having a digital scanner eliminates the need to send a physical dental impression via mail. Digital scans can be sent directly to Align Technology to manufacture your aligners, which reduces the waiting time.

    This means that you can receive your Invisalign aligners within 4-6 weeks!

ClinCheck® software

After a 3D image of your teeth is captured, the data is synced to a proprietary ClinCheck® software. Your dentist will then use the software to design and customise a treatment plan for you.

There’s no guesswork and waiting time here; according to Align Technology, the ClinCheck® software is powered by data from 9 million patients.

Note:
Your dentist’s experience in using the ClinCheck® software is crucial. An experienced doctor would know when and where to place attachments and understand how forces act on your teeth. Thus, choosing a good Invisalign dentist is essential to achieving your desired smile efficiently.

  • Preview your treatment outcome before committing

    Using the ClinCheck® simulation*, you can now preview your treatment outcome before making the decision to commit.

    Seeing the before and after result during your second consultation will remove any uncertainty and reaffirm your decision. 

    *The ClinCheck® software provides a simulated outcome only. Actual treatment outcomes may differ from the simulated outcome.

  • Precision and accuracy

    Backed by data, the software algorithm aids in calculating just the right amount of force required for every tooth movement. 

    With the algorithm, your dentist will make vital changes to the suggested treatment plan based on their experience. This assures that each tooth moves in the right sequence, direction and time.

SmartTrack®

Invisalign aligners are made with a patented SmartTrack® material. This material was specially engineered for the Invisalign system after testing 260 materials and 8 years of research and development.

✓ Applies a gentle, consistent force
✓ Improved control and better prediction of tooth movements
✓ Better comfort with snug fit
✓ Treatment time is generally faster than braces

SmartForce®

SmartForce® attachments are tiny tooth-coloured things attached to your teeth. They act as handles that allow your aligners to grip and push your teeth to the desired position more effectively.

With these small but powerful tools, tooth movements such as rotation, extrusion and translation are made possible! 

✓ Tiny, tooth-coloured and hardly noticeable
✓ Able to correct complex teeth conditions
✓ Guide your aligners to apply the right pressure in the precise direction when needed

SmartStage™

The SmartStage™ Technology enables your aligners to engage with your teeth; it computes each tooth movement in an optimised sequence to achieve the best outcomes. 

✓ Improved aligner shape
✓ Optimised teeth movement sequence

FAQs

There’s no minimum age to do Invisalign; it’s dependent on your teeth condition. Invisalign has tailored treatment plans such as Invisalign First for children aged 6 – 10 years old and Invisalign Teen

Early orthodontic treatment allows the dentist to straighten your child’s teeth and treat dental concerns before they develop into more serious problems. Thus, it may be necessary for some. 

However, do note that early orthodontic treatment may not be suitable for all children. Consult your dentist for an accurate diagnosis.

Both orthodontic treatments are clinically proven to correct smiles. Deciding between the two is largely dependent on your priorities and personal preferences.

Some factors to consider would include

  • Visibility
  • Comfort
  • Dietary restrictions
  • Budget
  • Discipline
  • Frequency of follow-up visits

Check out our article for a more detailed comparison of Invisalign and braces.

In this article, Dr. Tong mentioned that Invisalign may have difficulty in treating:

  • severely tipped teeth
  • impacted teeth
  • severely rotated teeth

However, SmartForce® attachments have made it possible to overcome these limitations. Thus, Invisalign is designed to treat most teeth conditions.

Learn more about the teeth conditions that Invisalign can correct.

As compared to other types of aligners, Invisalign is the most expensive. However, this is because it’s backed by over 20 years of research and data. 

As of October 2020, Invisalign has corrected the smiles of 9 million patients with the proprietary ClinCheck® software and patented features of the aligners. 

Each aligner is designed to fit your teeth snugly and comfortably and optimised to shift your teeth at the right sequence for the best results.

Learning more about Invisalign treatment

Ready to embark on your Invisalign journey? Contact us at i.Dental for a consultation today! 

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