A:Most people see just one benefit with Invisalign: the option to not have to wear metal braces. There’s nothing wrong with wanting straight, beautiful teeth and wanting an “invisible” way of achieving that, but the truly beautiful thing about Invisalign is actually has nothing to do with how your teeth look.
Here are some of my favorite reasons why Invisalign is about so much more than just the looks:
Protective gear you can use the rest of your life.
Once you’re done with Invisalign, you’ll have what is essentially a clear mouth guard that you will wear at night to keep your teeth straight, but can also be used to whiten your teeth, protect your teeth from grinding at night or during sporting events (like mountain biking and lifting weights) – the device has many functions!
Shorter, more efficient dental cleanings with the hygienist
Teeth that are properly aligned tend to be more self-cleansing and more self-maintaining. They’re easier to floss and they’re easier for the hygienist to clean! Crooked teeth are very hard to clean. For example, when teeth are twisted and crowded, the instrument that the dental hygienist uses is rendered ineffective, allowing the bacteria to evade removal during the cleaning process.
Speech and phonetics – better speech and pronunciation
Your ability to pronounce words properly is largely determined by the position of your teeth. I have patients in the movie, comedy, voice over, and music industries, for whom Invisalign has able to help by fine-tuning their speaking voice. For example, if your two upper front teeth are too long or if you have an open bite, you may lisp or have difficulty to pronounce certain words, or even whistle a little bit as you speak.
Reduced food impaction from easier home care
When teeth do not fit up against each other tightly enough, it is likely that, at every meal, a piece of stringy meat or vegetable will get caught in between the teeth and will stay there until removed by floss. This condition is called food impaction and can cause great harm to the gums and teeth. The food is held in place by the misaligned teeth so that the bacteria can feast upon it. Facilitating their growth in your mouth will bring about accelerated gum recession and dull, throbbing pain in the mouth.
Proper positioning of the teeth facilitates easier and more efficacious flossing and brushing. If your teeth are all lined up correctly in the proper position, there is less for you to do and less to worry about to have good oral health.
Invisalign aligners can fix facial, jaw, and neck pain
People who suffer from sore facial muscles and from the effects of grinding can not only benefit from a better bite, but they can also benefit from wearing an aligner over several months. As long as there is no joint pathology, wearing an Invisalign aligner is a great way to deprogram the muscles involved in grinding and relieve TMD symptoms.
Better bone architecture and gum positioning
It’s not just what’s above the surface! When the teeth are crooked, the bone that’s supporting the tooth is also crooked, leading to complications. This is referred to as bone architecture and without optimal bone architecture, it is almost impossible to have good gum and tooth health.
Better digestion by more efficient chewing and breakdown of food particles in the mouth
The mouth is responsible for the first stage of the digestion of food. Improper mastication of food in the mouth has ramifications for the entire process of the absorption of nutrients throughout the body. To put it simply, you will get less nutrition out of the food you eat without a proper bite.
Proper positioning of the lower jaw in relationship to the upper jaw
Here’s the analogy I use with my patients. The jaw is like a door with two hinges – one hinge at each ear and the door jam and the strike plate being your teeth. In an ideal mouth, you want the door to be able to open smoothly and easily and close without effort. The door hits the strike plate and the door jam at the same time without any undue friction or sticking.
Who of us have had doors that we’ve had to force it shut? The door that doesn’t close properly will eventually pull the screws out of the hinge plates and, one day, will not be able to close.
The equivalent in the mouth is TMJ or TMD, pain in the joints, clicking and popping, misaligned jaws, inefficient and painful chewing, or the inability to chew. Perfectly aligned teeth will allow that door to open and close freely without slow deterioration of the jaw and without pain.
This is what orthodontics and braces were invented for – not only to give you a pretty smile, as you may have been told, rather, but to improve your overall health and help you live a long life without pain. No doubt that a beautiful smile brings confidence and self-esteem, but without good physical health, the former is hollow!
Mark Burhenne DDS