Invisalign is a method of orthodontic therapy promoted as an "invisible" way of straightening teeth without using traditional braces. It instead uses a series of clear custom-fabricated aligners designed to gradually and sequentially move teeth to their desired positions.
Advantages & disadvantages
The main advantage of the treatment is cosmetic: the aligners are completely transparent and difficult to detect. This makes the method particularly popular among adults who want to straighten their teeth without the unflattering look of traditional metal braces, which are commonly worn by children and adolescents. In addition, the aligners are marketed as being more comfortable than braces. Due to the removable nature of the device, food can be enjoyed without the encumbrance of metallic braces.
Despite the considerable cosmetic advantage of Invisalign, the product also has many disadvantages: the very fact that the aligners are removable means they are not continually correcting the teeth. Unlike traditional fixed braces, they are largely dependent on a patient's habits and their consistency in wearing the aligners.
The aligners must be removed for eating. They and the teeth should be cleaned before re-inserting afterwards. This can be troublesome for people who are constantly snacking and may mean the patient has to clean their teeth up to six times daily. However, this tends to discourage snacking, which some people might find useful.
Unlike traditional braces, if a patient grinds or clenches his or her teeth during the day or while sleeping, the aligners or braces can become damaged. In these cases a new aligner may be required or it may be suggested that a patient switch to a metal retainer. Also, aligners or braces may cause a slight lisp at the beginning of treatment. However, this lisp also usually comes along with the traditional metal braces. This usually disappears as the patient becomes used to the treatment.
A growing number of reported cases of allergic and toxic sensitivity reactions to Invisalign are being reported to the FDA and online information forums like Archwired. Minor symptoms such as sore throat, cough and nausea have been reported.] In more serious cases, the FDA has received reports of systemic swelling or throat pain that has extended to the upper chest and wind passages requiring emergency medical treatment and discontinuation of the Invisalign treatment.
While the Invisalign company provides no information except the MSDS (material safety data sheet) directly to patients or orthodontists, working through the patient's orthodontist Invisalign will make the aligners with several different materials to attempt to reduce toxic or allergic sensitivity.