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What is Invisalign?

invisalign invisible braces Scarborough

Invisalign® is an aesthetic orthodontic technique that uses a series of doctor-prescribed, clear aligners to correct malaligned teeth, bites, and smiles for teens and adults. It has been around since the late 1990s and has been used by over 1 million patients, including celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Heidi Klum, and Katherine Heigl. The idea of using removable appliances to move teeth has been around much longer. However, Align Technology has developed an extremely precise, 3-D, digitally controlled way that allows doctors to move teeth with aligners that are clear, comfortable, and effective.

The aligners are made of an FDA approved, medical grade plastic that is customized to fit your teeth. Your doctor determines how teeth move in terms of speed, order, and direction. About every two weeks, there is a new aligner that fits your teeth slightly differently from the previous one to gradually improve alignment. Just like regular braces that place pressure on the teeth all the time, Invisalign must be worn for as close to full-time as possible. The general rule is for 22 hours per day, allowing two hours for brushing, flossing, and eating. The average treatment time with Invisalign is about one year, ranging from about six months to a few years, depending on treatment planning, compliance, and severity of the malocclusion.

The following is a list of the types of Invisalign available. There are various reasons for the use of each product, but keep in mind that they will not change the rate at which teeth can be moved.


  • released world-wide in 1999
  • mid-course correction and up to three refinements available
  • torqueing ridges made available in early 2010

Invisalign Teen™

  • released world-wide in 2009
  • torqueing ridges, compliance indicators, eruption tabs, replacement aligners, depending on the contract with your office (note that due to these features, many orthodontists may be using Teen for adult patients as well)
  • mid-course correction, three sets of refinement
  • lab fee slightly more than traditional Invisalign

Invisalign Express

  • treatment of extremely minor nature using ten aligners or less (very few patients qualify)
  • criteria as follows for acceptance by Align, but treatment may still not progress as other factors should be considered
    • maximum extrusion of 0.5mm
    • maximum IPR of 2mm per arch
    • maximum posterior intrusion of 0.5mm
    • no sagittal (A/P) corrections required
  • one refinement available, not included in original lab free, one detailing set, not included in lab fee, and no new ClinCheck possible

Invisalign Express 5

  • treatment of extremely minor malalignment using 5 aligners or less
  • 1 refinement available of up to 5 aligners, not included in original lab fee
  • released in February 2012

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