With Invisalign® clear aligners in hand, you’re ready to start your journey to a straight smile. How exciting! But are you also wondering what’s actually happening to your teeth — from the first time you place those aligners to when you finish up with the last pair? We’ve got your curiosity covered.
Board certified orthodontist, Dr. Okuda, and the team at Okuda Orthodontics are your go-to for Invisalign in Las Vegas. Along with providing high quality care at our Henderson, NV office, we want you to feel in-the-know when it comes to what’s happening with your teeth. So here, we’ll explain how Invisalign progress works and the stages of teeth movement.
How does Invisalign Actually Work?
First, how does Invisalign straighten teeth? The mechanics of tooth movement with Invisalign is pretty cool and is called bone remodeling. Here’s the science: bone remodeling with clear aligners is a pushing motion that activates the periodontal ligaments connecting each tooth’s roots to its socket. This pushing force stretches the ligaments on one side of the root, and as a result, compresses the ligaments on the other side of the tooth root.
These movements signal osteoblasts to build new bone cells on the stretched side, while osteoclasts break down bone cells on the compressed side. This allows a tooth to shift safely. When each tooth is in its final spot at the end of Invisalign, the ligaments need time to adjust and your tooth roots time to settle securely into their sockets. That’s where retainers come in, holding your teeth in their new spots as they settle.
Stages of Tooth Movement
After your consultation, diagnostics, and treatment planning with Dr. Okuda, the active phase of Invisalign treatment begins and involves three stages: aligning and leveling, bite correction, and finishing.
Stage 1: Aligning and Leveling
The first stage is about aligning and leveling the teeth. Aligning means derotating and straightening your teeth into your prescribed arch shape. The goal is a consistent, smooth curve in your dental arch.
Leveling is fixing vertical differences among teeth. Do some of your upper teeth protrude down or sit higher up in the gums than the teeth beside them? Or do any lower teeth stick up higher than their neighbors? The leveling stage ensures teeth are the same height within each arch.
So in this aligning and leveling stage, which teeth move first with Invisalign? It’s different for every patient. Dr. Okuda will decide which teeth should move first in your treatment plan depending on your unique case. Sometimes Invisalign treatment starts with moving the front teeth since they’re the most crooked. Other times, the answer to which teeth will move first is the back teeth, since they’re the biggest teeth and might require the most time to move.
Stage 2: Bite Correction
The next active stage addresses the relationship between your top and bottom molars. Spaces begin to close and the upper and lower teeth come together properly. There’s a lot happening! During this second active part of your Invisalign progress, you’ll notice your bite improving.
Bite correction is important in the functioning and health of your teeth and contributes a lot to your overall facial appearance. To achieve your best bite, Dr. Okuda looks at your front-to-back, side-to-side, and top-to-bottom tooth relationships so your arches result in an ideal fit when you close your mouth.
Invisalign Rubber Bands
Repositioning jaws to correct the bite sometimes requires Invisalign rubber bands to provide an aligning, connective force between the two arches. How does this work? The rubber bands attach either to SmartForce® attachments — tooth colored bumps bonded to your back teeth — or to hooks designed into the aligners themselves. The rubber bands help to slowly move your jaw into alignment.
Stage 3: Finishing
We wrap up the active part of your Invisalign treatment with a look at the aesthetics of your smile, your bite alignment, and how everything has come together. If needed, we’ll make some final small adjustments to your custom smile. We’ll also plan your retention stage, which involves fitting you for your retainer and designing a plan for how long you’ll wear it for.
When Do You Start Seeing Results with Invisalign?
In the first few weeks, you’ll begin to see and feel individual teeth moving gradually into alignment. And with every set you put in, it’s pretty exciting to see crooked teeth straighten and your jaw align right before your eyes.
So How Long Does Invisalign Take?
The duration of Invisalign depends on each unique case. So what do we say when our patients ask us, “How long does Invisalign take?” The average Invisalign time is less than two years. Some cases even take as little as six months if very mild correction is needed.
Kick Off Invisalign Treatment with Your Experienced Henderson Dentist
Dr. Okuda and the expert Invisalign team at Okuda Orthodontics are ready to help you get the dream smile you’ve always wanted. Contact us at our Henderson office to start your journey.