A primary reason that millions of people choose Invisalign to straighten their teeth is right there in the name—they are hoping for a nearly Invis-ible product. Obviously, no product is completely invisible, but Invisalign is far less noticeable than metal braces or even clear braces.
Invisalign aligners, called trays, are made of transparent plastic that fits snugly over the top and bottom teeth. What Invisalign looks like makes it appealing when compared with traditional metal braces. Depending on the situation, however, some people will notice them. Here is what you can expect from this incredibly popular teeth straightening method.
Up Close and Personal
In order to see results, patients need to keep Invisalign trays on their teeth for 20-22 hours each day. This means it is inevitable that patients will interact with others while they’re wearing Invisalign.
The type and length of interaction is a big factor in how likely it is that a person will notice that someone is wearing Invisalign. Smiling at someone on the street or having a quick exchange with a store clerk is unlikely to make the trays obvious. In situations like a job interview, a date, or giving a presentation in front of a group, however, it is more likely that they will be noticed. The longer and closer the meeting, and the more the patient talks, the greater the chance of someone seeing the trays.
What People Might Notice About Invisalign
As discreet as Invisalign is, there are a few things that will give it away. The trays completely encase the top and bottom teeth in plastic. Even though the plastic is clear and thin, it will add some thickness to the teeth. This might be seen, especially when the person talks.
Some aligners have a completely smooth surface which can make them shinier than natural teeth. Invisalign’s plastic is slightly textured to create a surface that is more like real teeth. They do not look quite as glossy as some products. In direct sunlight or bright light, however, they might look a little shinier than teeth normally do. This can make them easier to spot.
Finally, the edge of Invisalign looks like the natural gum line more than some other products. The trays are trimmed to follow the contour of the teeth. Other products are cut straight across just above the gum line. A scalloped edge might not be exact, but many people feel it disguises the trays better than a straight edge.
Depending on the dental problem being corrected, treatment with Invisalign might include more than just the clear plastic trays. The dentist might need to add small objects to the teeth to boost Invisalign’s effectiveness. These are called attachments, power ridges, and buttons.
Attachments are small pieces of tooth-colored composite bonding material, similar to what is used to fill a cavity. Tiny dots of the material are attached to one or more teeth in strategic locations. Attachments put more pressure on a tooth, helping the alignment trays move it. They are especially useful when a tooth needs to turn.
Power ridges are a pair of attachments, one on the front and one on the back of the same tooth. One is usually placed toward the top and the other toward the bottom. These apply additional pressure in opposite directions at the same time, tipping the tooth either forward or backward into alignment with its neighbors.
Buttons are the same as attachments, but they are put in place to hold elastic bands. Invisalign treatment sometimes includes bands that connect the top teeth to the bottom teeth in a strategic way. This speeds up tooth movement in a specific direction.
Attachments, power ridges, and buttons might make Invisalign more noticeable, especially when they are placed on front teeth or on multiple teeth. They can look very much like the brackets of clear braces, only without a metal wire connecting them.
Attachments are made to match the color of the teeth to reduce their visibility. But if the surrounding teeth become stained, they will keep their original shade. This can make attachments stand out.
When Invisalign trays are in, attachments, power ridges, and buttons are usually less obvious. Elastic bands, however, aren’t as easily hidden, although they can be clear, which may help.Your dentist will be able to give you an idea of which of these extra tools will be necessary for your particular situation, if any. If you need to find a dentist who administers Invisalign, you can use our online search tool.
Invisalign Removal and Replacement
Another part of Invisalign’s popularity is that the trays can be removed. In fact, they must be removed whenever the patient eats or drinks. In many cases, taking them out and putting them back in again is more likely to be noticed than wearing them.
Eating or drinking anything but water while the trays are in can damage or stain Invisalign. Patients should carry a case to keep the trays in while they are out of the mouth. Not only will this keep them clean and safe, it eliminates what Invisalign looks like sitting on a table or plate, which might not be appetizing!
What Invisalign Looks Like When it is Not Kept Clean
Not taking proper care of the trays can greatly affect what Invisalign looks like. The clear plastic can stain with things like coffee, tomato sauce, or red wine. Hot liquids can warp the plastic.
Patients should brush their teeth, or at the very least, rinse their mouths and the trays after eating or drinking. Anything left on the teeth will be trapped between the enamel and the alignment tray. If something like a piece of spinach is on a tooth, it will be clearly visible.
While it doesn’t immediately impact the look of the teeth, invisible bacteria that is not cleaned is harmful. Saliva naturally rinses teeth after eating, but once the trays are put back on the teeth, it won’t be able to do its job. The result is that cavity-causing bacteria has time to eat away at the enamel while it sits on the teeth under the plastic tray.
Choosing Invisalign for How it Looks
Patients will enjoy a more discreet teeth straightening experience with Invisalign than with traditional braces. Invisalign, however, is not completely invisible. Some people are bound to notice the trays, especially if the patient also has attachments or needs to use elastic bands.
Despite this, millions of happy Invisalign patients feel the results are worth it.