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8 March 2016

How Invisalign Works

Teeth StraighteningBamboo BlogDentalBraces

Invisalign | The Process From Start to Finish

Invisalign are one of many modern teeth straightening treatments available at Bamboo. We feel that it is important for our patients to be aware of the full process they are about to journey through. If you are one of those patients or are just researching Invisalign as a potential solution to improving your smile then this article will be extremely useful. We will take you through each stage of your journey and let you know exactly what you can expect to happen if you opt for Invisalign. Invisalign process

1. Invisalign Consultation

The very first step is for you to come in for a free consultation at our dental practice in Cardiff. The consultation is free and will be a great opportunity for our Dentist, Dr Dan Rogers, to determine whether or not Invisalign is the right treatment for you and for the particular situation of your teeth. Invisalign is extremely efficient, however, as with all treatments, there will be specific circumstances in which another teeth straightening option may be better suited. This is why Bamboo see it as vital to undertake a consultation before rushing into any treatment. We absolutely want you to finish your treatment with the smile you want. Something to note is that Invisalign works only for adults and teens. If you are younger than this and still have baby teeth then this is not the right treatment as you will need to wait for your adult teeth to grow through first.

Woo! You are a Good Candidate! What next?

Now that we are sure Invisalign is the right treatment for you, we progress to the next stage which is taking records. This process has several aspects. We will take photographs of both your face and teeth, dental impressions and some x-rays of your teeth structure. Once collected, we write up detailed instructions on how we would like your teeth to be moved and send both the instructions and records off to Invisalign. In the next few days, Invisalign will start to work on your case. They will firstly scan your impressions. This allows them to create a 3 dimensional model of your teeth that they can manipulate in their computer software. The technicians at Invisalign will now start to carefully move the teeth in the 3D model to their final positions. I now get the opportunity to review the movements that have been made. In most cases, they get this spot on however we usually do consult them on some more in depth details for some final adjustments to make your smile as perfect as possible. These changes are then implemented by the technicians and I review them again. The process continues until I have the teeth exactly where I want them. Now that we have the 3d model in position, I instruct Invisalign to go ahead with the procedure. Upon this instruction, they create the trays in special moulds with the shapes generated from the 3D imaging software. These trays are then mailed over to our dental practice in Cardiff. The time frame for this is typically around 4 weeks. Once they arrive, you are ready to embark on your journey to straighter teeth!

How InvisalignStraightens Teeth

So now we have your aligners safely stored at the dental practice we are ready to progress with your treatment. You will be given the first set of Invisalign aligners. These aligners are clear and will be manufactured so that the aligner has spaces set that are slightly straighter than your teeth currently are. This means that when you wear the aligner, your teeth are slightly pressured into moving towards a more straighter position. Once you have achieved the position of the first aligner, which usually takes 2 weeks, you will be given a second aligner that is, again, slightly straighter than the previous. Eventually, after you have completed wearing your full course of aligners, your teeth will match the final aligners positioning which is the exact position that had been planned using Invisalign's 3D modelling technology.

How Invisalign Fixes Crowding

It is commonplace for those seeking Invisalign treatment to have crowded front teeth. Crowding is effectively where there is too little room for the teeth to fit. Hence, to solve this issue we need to create more room and this can be achieved in a number of ways.


  • Use Invisalign to do some expansion of the back teeth:This is helpful in more than one way. Firstly, we are able to make some extra room so that we can solve the issue of overcrowding caused between the front teeth. Secondly, we are able to create a much broader smile which is most cases does look much better.
  • The second option is to very slightly thin out some of the teeth. By this, I refer to a process called interproximal reduction. This utilises sanding and filing equipment and effectively makes some of those teeth skinnier in order to make room for them to move into. This is not something to worry about as the filing stays within the enamel of the tooth so that there is no added sensitivity at a later date.

Things to Expect with Invisalign

In most cases we make use of a technique called 'attachments'. These are simply small pieces of composite that are attached to the teeth. They are very small and tooth coloured and take the shape of a little bump. These bumps act as extra grip for the aligner to slot into place around. The basic function aims to keep the aligner on your teeth more securely but they can also be used to put extra pressure on certain teeth that we want to move. On occasions we need the patient to wear tiny rubber bands with their aligners. These are used for one of two reason - to rotate particular teeth into the correct position or to help correct the bite.

How Often Should You Be WearingYour Aligners?

You will achieve the best possible results if you wear your Invisalign aligners for as much of the day as possible. One major advantage of Invisalign that many other teeth straightening treatments do not offer is that the aligner is completely removable. This means that you can take them out to eat at meal times or to brush your teeth. As a result, the typical patient will have their aligners in for around 20 hours per day. Ultimately it is up to you to stay disciplined with this. If you choose not to wear the aligners for this amount of time per day then there is big chance that your teeth will not have moved far enough into position in time for your next aligner sets. This means a longer treatment time for you.

Invisalign's Refinement Trays

We always tell our patients that they should not expect their teeth to be perfect straight after the last tray is finished. In fact, around 60% of people will still have a few teeth that are out of the desired position. It is important to be aware that this is completely normal and that this is not how your final smile is going to look. This is where 'refinement trays' come in to play. This process involves taking a fresh set of impressions which are sent off for fabrication at Invisalign. These new trays will have small changes made to them that allow us to iron out those small movements left to get your teeth where we want them. The refinement trays carry no additional cost and usually will only require one refinement tray per patient. However, if we are still not happy that all the teeth are straight, we have up to three refinement trays available per patient. There is very rarely a need to use up all three refinement trays though.

Looking After Your New Smile

Now that your smile is revived we just have one final piece of maintenance to consider. You have spent a lot of time and effort in getting your teeth into position and now we want them to stay there. The body continual changes and if left to its own devices, your teeth will gradually move back into their default position. The answer to this is retainers. Most patient will opt for clear retainers that look very similar to the Invisalign aligners. We suggest that you wear the retainer full time for 2 months and then we can cut back to just wearing them whilst sleeping. Eventually, yo will be able to wear them for just a few nights per week and this will be enough to retain the position of your new smile. Another option that is available is a permanent retainer. The people who often choose this option are those who don't feel that they will have the discipline to wear the removable retainer every night. This fixed retainer comprises of a wire that is attached to the inside of your lower front six teeth. Your teeth will now be permanently held in position without any worry about having to wear your retainer each night!

In Conclusion

Invisalign is an excellent teeth straightening option, especially for those wishing to have a more discreet brace that is not fixed to their teeth. If you have any further questions regarding our Invisalign teeth straightening treatments please fell free to get in touch.