Invisalign Facts and Fiction

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Invisalign is one of the most amazing innovations in orthodontics in the past 20 years. Straightening teeth without braces has encouraged millions of patients who would have never considered treatment otherwise to finally get their smiles fixed. As exciting as this technology is however, it is important that we separate facts from fiction.

Braces are still a better choice for some problems
Fiction: Invisalign can be used to correct all orthodontic problems. Fact: Although the technology is getting better, there are still some complex movements that cannot be treated as efficiently or effectively with aligners. Cases which require the extraction of bicuspids are just one example.

Results produced by Invisalign depend upon skill of doctor
Fiction: Invisalign is Invisalign and it doesn’t matter who provides it. Fact: Invisalign is just a tool that doctors use to straighten teeth. Align Technology (the manufacturer) does not diagnose or treatment plan the cases. The success or failure of each case is determined by the training and skill of each doctor who uses it. An orthodontist with advanced training and experience will usually understand diagnosis and tooth movement better than a general dentist who has just taken a weekend certification course. There are also different skill levels among orthodontists.

Teeth still get sore with Invisalign
Fiction: Invisalign does not hurt as much as braces. Fact: Teeth get sore anytime consistent pressure is placed upon them. They cannot tell whether the pressure comes from plastic or from metal. You will experience some discomfort whenever your orthodontist moves a tooth (although your lips might be more comfortable against the smooth aligners rather than the metal brackets, wires, and ties).

Invisalign moves teeth the same speed as braces
Fiction: Invisalign is faster than braces. Fact: Healthy tooth movement occurs at one speed and it doesn’t matter if that movement is caused by plastic aligners or metal wires. The reason most Invisalign cases are typically shorter in length is because most orthodontists only use Invisalign for their easier cases.

We charge the same fot braces and Invisalign
Fiction: Invisalign costs a lot more than regular braces. Fact: The reason many providers do charge more for Invisalign is because there is such a large lab fee that must be paid to Align Technology at the beginning of treatment (currently over $1,800!). There are four areas of treatment that figure into a treatment fee: 1) the diagnosis and treatment plan, 2) the appliance cost (brackets, wires, expanders, etc.), 3) chair time during regular appointments for adjustments and activations, and 4) retainers and retention at the completion of treatment. The diagnosis/treatment plan and retention steps are the same for both Invisalign and braces. Although there is a higher lab cost at the beginning of treatment with Invisalign, the adjustment appointments during treatment are shorter and easier. In our office we feel these two differences offset each other and therefore we currently charge the same for Invisalign and braces.

We are Invisalign fans at Jorgensen Orthodontics. We think you will be too. It is important however that all of us approach treatment with our eyes wide open and that we understand the facts before treatment begins.


NOTE: The author, Dr. Greg Jorgensen, is a board-certified orthodontist who is in the private practice of orthodontics in Rio Rancho, New Mexico (a suburb on the westside of Albuquerque). He was trained at BYU, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Iowa in the United States. Dr. Jorgensen’s 25 years of specialty practice and 10,000 finished cases qualify him an expert in two-phase treatment, extraction and non-extraction therapy, functional orthodontics, clear aligners (Invisalign), and multiple bracket systems (including conventional braces, Damon and other self-ligating brackets, Suresmile, and lingual braces). This blog for informational purposes only and is designed to help consumers understand currently accepted orthodontic concepts. It is not a venue for debating alternative treatment theories. Dr. Jorgensen is licensed to diagnose and treat patients only in the state of New Mexico. He cannot diagnose cases described in comments nor can he select treatment plans for readers. Because he has over 25,000 readers each month, it is impossible for him respond to all questions. Please read all of the comments associated with each article as most of the questions he receives each week have been asked and answered previously. The opinions expressed here are protected by copyright laws and can only be used with written permission from the author.