Everyone wants a beautiful smile, but some of us have gaps between our teeth that are noticeable every time we flash a grin. While gaps in your smile may make you want to frown, the truth is that most people are not born with a perfectly straight smile. Today, you have options such as Invisalign that can help you get your teeth into perfect alignment so that you can always smile with confidence.
Why Do I Have Gaps Between My Teeth?
Diastema, or gaps between teeth, can be caused by factors such as genetics, certain behaviors as well as your physical health. The most common reason for gaps between the teeth is a person having a jaw that is too big for the size of their teeth. You may also have a gap between your teeth if you were born without a permanent tooth. Once the baby tooth falls out, you’ll need orthodontic treatment to fill in the gap.
Between your upper lip and two front teeth, you also have a part of your mouth called the labial frenum. In some people, this tissue is too large and it creates pressure that eventually begins to pull apart the teeth. This is often the cause of a large gap between the two front teeth when the other areas of your smile are relatively aligned.
Certain behaviors also lead to problems with your smile. For example, thumb sucking tends to push the teeth forward and cause gaps to form. Similarly, those with a tongue thrust, or tendency to push their tongue against their top teeth when they swallow, have similar gaps between their teeth.
You should also be aware that proper oral hygiene prevents gaps from forming later in life. Unfortunately, gum disease weakens the bone and ligaments that hold your teeth in place. As your teeth loosen, they begin to shift and create new gaps.
Am I a Good Candidate for Invisalign?
Once you have gaps between your teeth, Invisalign is an effective way to bring your teeth closer together. Older children, teenagers and adults are all potential candidates for Invisalign. Younger children may need to wait until the majority of their permanent teeth come in before they are eligible. Although Invisalign can treat most gaps between teeth, your dentist may recommend a different treatment method if you have severe gaps or other problems with the alignment of your teeth.
What Happens at My First Appointment?
The first appointment for Invisalign is when you find out for sure if you are a strong candidate for the treatment. During this initial consultation, your dentist performs and exam to check your overall oral health. Then, they will take measurements of your smile and use x-rays to gather the information they need to make a 3D rendering of your smile. This image is then used to create the clear plastic aligner trays that you use throughout the rest of your treatment.
Your first appointment is also an opportunity to discuss your questions about the treatment, and you should always let your dentist know about any imperfections that you dislike about your smile. In addition to closing gaps, Invisalign can help to correct misaligned bites such as an underbite that alters your overall physical appearance.
How Often Will I Visit the Dentist?
Your first consultation plans the majority of your treatment, yet adjustments sometimes need to be made to get the best results. Any type of oral appliance also carries the slight risk of cavities developing, which makes proper dental care important. During your treatment, continue to see your dentist as regularly scheduled for your routine exams and cleanings. You may also need to visit them about every six weeks to assess how the Invisalign is working to close the gaps.
How Long Will I Need to Wear My Aligners?
Each one of your aligner trays is designed to move your teeth about 0.1 mm. While this may not sound like much, the gradual process is important to help your teeth settle in to their new alignment without causing damage. After the lab receives your 3D image, a set of trays is created to gradually shift your teeth to their desired places. For most people, a set contains about 20 trays, but yours could contain more or less depending upon the severity of the gaps between your teeth.
Once you get your trays, you will need to wear your aligner for the majority of the day. For maximum results, this should include wearing your aligners overnight, which comes to about 20 to 22 hours of daily wear. On average, you should expect to wear your aligners for about 12 months, but treatment times vary based upon the unique differences in your smile.
Will Invisalign Require Changes to My Routine?
Orthodontic treatment sometimes gets a bad rap for requiring major lifestyle changes. For instance, traditional metal braces require you to avoid eating certain foods that could break the wires and brackets. Invisalign trays eliminate this inconvenience since you can simply take the aligners out of your mouth when you eat.
You will need to add a few simple steps to your oral hygiene routine to remove food debris and bacteria from the aligners. To brush your teeth, you take the aligners out and perform your normal brushing and flossing routine. Then, you will need to gently clean the aligner trays before you put them back in your mouth. Your dentist may also recommend soaking the aligners periodically to remove additional debris.
Does Invisalign Hurt?
The process of moving your teeth into their new spaces sometimes generates some discomfort. However, you will normally only notice this during the first day or two wearing your new trays, and most people find that the discomfort requires nothing more than a little rest or an over the counter pain reliever. Once you get used to the aligners, you will likely hardly notice that you are wearing them.
How Do I Maintain My Newly Straightened Smile?
Once you reach the end of your primary treatment phase, the dentist will assess your smile to determine if you have achieved your goals. Then, you will move into the maintenance phase of your treatment. During this time, you may continue to wear special aligners to help your teeth stay in place, or you may need a retainer to maintain the alignment. Make sure to follow this plan perfectly so that you preserve the beautiful effects that Invisalign created for your smile.
Gaps between your teeth are not only unsightly, but they can also serve as food traps that make it hard to maintain proper oral hygiene. With Invisalign, you can safely close those gaps so that your smile looks and feels just as beautiful as you do.
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