What is the cause of crowded teeth?
Crowding occurs when teeth have been competing for space in the mouth during development, and have thus grown in improperly, causing them to be twisted and misaligned. Generally, this is a genetic issue with jaw size, which means teeth don’t often have all the space they require when they are growing in, and push each other into unnatural, crooked positions.
There are other factors that can cause crowding:
- Excessive thumb sucking past age 3
- Premature loss of baby teeth, or delayed loss
- Losing a permanent tooth, either through decay or injury, which causes other teeth to move into it’s place
- Extra adult teeth
- Abnormal tooth growth
- Unusually large teeth (this is a lesson common one, and usually found in patients with certain syndromes)
- Badly done orthodontic treatment
Crowding is very common, and whatever the cause many people will experience crowding to some degree. Some may only have one crooked tooth, others may find they have a whole row of teeth that have grown in improperly.
Why should you fix overcrowding?
Even if the aesthetics don’t concern you, there are other dental issues that can come with having misaligned teeth. They can:
- Make it difficult to chew properly, and can cause speech difficulties
- Put the muscles of your mouth, as well as your teeth and jaw, under strain
- Increase the risk of you breaking a tooth
- Make it harder to maintain proper dental hygiene
- Increase the risk of tooth decay, cavities and gingivitis
- They can even cause migraines
Does Invisalign work for crowded teeth?
The answer is yes. It’s perhaps a common misconception that Invisalign won’t work on teeth that are ‘too crooked’, or teeth that overlap and twist, but in fact Invisalign is just as effective as traditional metal braces, if not more so. On very crooked teeth, where often some teeth are pushed back or rotated, it can be difficult to fit a traditional bracket. Invisalign can accomplish tooth movement without needing a specific amount of the tooth surface exposed, because it doesn’t use brackets. Because of this, tooth rotation can begin much sooner, and therefore be completed more quickly, than it would be with traditional braces.
How does Invisalign work?
Your clinician will take a fast and precise 3D scan of your teeth, which is used to map out a custom treatment plan just for you. You’ll be shown digitally how your teeth will move and progress over time, and then if you’re happy with the treatment plan laid out for you, it will all be sent off to a lab.
The lab will prepare your custom aligners, which are virtually invisible, and you’ll take these home to start wearing on a daily basis. From there, it’s just a matter of switching out your aligners at the set times, and occasionally having your progress reviewed by the dentist, to ensure all is going as planned. Things can always be adjusted as needed.
When treatment is finished, you’ll be able to cast off the clear aligners and be given retainers to make sure your results last forever.
How long does Invisalign take to fix crooked teeth?
As with all orthodontic treatments, treatment time depends on the severity of your individual case. However, for most patients, you’ll start to see visible results by week 12. In cases of mild misalignment, you might be done in as little as six months – but generally treatment can be expected to last 12 to 18 months. Of course, treatment time also depends on conformity – because patients are free to remove Invisalign trays, those who get into the habit of leaving them off for extended periods may find they don’t finish treatment quite as quickly as those who wear them religiously.
Are Invisalign trays better than braces for overcrowding?
As already mentioned, Invisalign has an advantage over a traditional brace in cases of overcrowding, as there’s no requirement for a tooth to be far enough exposed to begin realigning it.
But that’s not the only benefit. With Invisalign, patients can enjoy an attractive smile through the duration of treatment, as the aligners are hardly noticeable. It’s also easier to maintain good dental hygiene, and no need to later hygiene practices, as aligners can be removed to eat, drink, and brush your teeth, and there’s no pesky wires or brackets to get food stuck in, or to work a brush around.
Many patients also find Invisalign a more comfortable form of treatment, and there’s no risk of wires popping off and cutting the inside of your mouth, as can sometimes happen with a traditional brace.
And because there’s no need for wire adjustments, and you get given your successive trays up front, there’s far fewer visits to the dentist involved. This makes Invisalign a great option for anyone who struggles with a phobia of the dentist.
And, of course, the aligners are removable. Though we recommend keeping them on for as much time as you can, to keep treatment time to a minimum, they can be taken off any time you need to, which means they are much easier to fit into your normal lifestyle.
Treatment options for crowded teeth
Though Invisalign is definitely one of the more effective, and preferred methods of dealing with crowding, it’s not the only option. Traditional braces are also an effective way of correcting crowding.
In more severe cases, extractions can be necessary. This is often the case for patients who’s overcrowding is caused by the growth of extra adult teeth, which are not necessary for good oral health. Once the extraction is complete, the remaining teeth are usually guided back into place with the help of Invisalign or a brace.
In the most complex cases, where misaligned teeth are often no the only issue but exist in tandem with jaw issues, surgery may be required to realign the jaw.
Are there types of crowding Invisalign can’t fix?
As mentioned above, some patients may require an extraction before Invisalign treatment can be undertaken, and in very severe cases Invisalign aligners cannot produce the same amount of force that traditional braces can, so may not succeed in fully realigning teeth.
Invisalign may also not be suitable for complex issues with malocclusion (having both overcrowding and a misaligned jaw, for example).
And because Invisalign is reliant on patient compliance, those who know they may not have trouble keeping disciplined about wearing their aligners for 22 hours a day might be better suited to other treatment options.
Generally speaking, however, Invisalign aligners are suitable for most cases of overcrowding. If you’re not sure what would be best in your individual situation, it’s always a good idea to come in for a consult with one of our experts, who can give you an unbiased opinion on what treatment would produce the best result for you.
What is the best way to wear Invisalign?
As mentioned, it’s recommended that you wear your aligners as much as possible to keep treatment time down to a minimum. We advise wearing them at least 22 hours a day to get the best results. However, it’s always sensible to remove your aligners for drinking, eating, playing sports, and brushing your teeth. As part of your personalised Invisalign treatment, you’ll receive a number of trays, each designed to fit your mouth at different stages of treatment. You should be moving onto your next tray every two weeks.
How to prevent moving teeth after Invisalign treatment
Unfortunately, the teeth don’t always hold their new position after treatment ends without a little extra help. They tend to have a ‘memory’ and can be prone to gradually shifting back into their original positions. This is why it’s important to wear retainers after treatment, to make sure your brand new smile lasts, and to prevent the need for further treatment in future.