By: Ruth Kerrison
Created on 25th March 2010
It is now possible to achieve straight white teeth without the pain of the drill or fixed braces. Dr Roy Dixon of Augusta Dental Centre explores the modern options for achieving a great smile
Crooked teeth can have a huge impact on your appearance and your confidence, but many people still believe that the only optionsavailable to deal with the problem once you reach adulthood involve painful drilling or even full braces, à la Miranda in Sex and the City.
In fact, the field of orthodontics has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years, and there is no longer any need for a fully grown adult to sport ugly train tracks on their teeth.
When you watch makeover programmes on TV, they often deal with the issue of problem teeth using veneers, which involves cutting down the natural - often perfectly healthy - teeth and placing porcelain veneers over the top.
We do offer veneers in my practice, and for many people they are a very good option, however where possible it is always preferable to avoid the pain of invasive surgery, and if you have looked after your teeth and kept them healthy it seems a shame to cut them down if there is an alternative option available.
Thankfully, there is a highly effective alternative, which I have been successfully using on my patients for several years now: Invisalign. Launched in America in the late 1990s, Invisalign is an invisible brace system involving a series of custom-made aligners that is capable of gradually moving teeth in a controlled way, so that no one need know you are in treatment.
Invisalign can be used to treat upper and lower arches to close spaces between teeth and to help overcome crowding of the teeth. The principles of tooth movement never change: a force is applied to a tooth supported by a ligament and bone, causing the tooth to move.
The first step, once we have assessed whether the treatment is right for you, is to make an impression of your teeth to be sent off to the Invisalign laboratories for processing. These impressions will then be digitalised using a unique 3-D computer-imaging system. This lets us know how many aligners will be needed, which in turn allows us to work out approximately how long it will take to straighten your teeth - usually between nine and eighteen months.
The computer imaging system also provides the dentist with an opportunity to plan the exact path your teeth will take throughout the treatment. You will be able to see virtual representations of how your teeth will look at various stages in the process.
Once we are both agreed on the treatment plan, your bespoke aligners are made, based on your tooth impressions. Each set of aligners needs to be worn full time for approximately two weeks before switching to the next pair.
During the treatment programme, you will need to return to see your dentist or orthodontist once every six to eight weeks to check on your progress - there is no painful tightening, as with traditional brace systems. So whether your teeth are crowded, too far apart or have shifted since previously wearing traditional braces, with Invisalign you'll have a new reason to display a confident smile.
Why choose Invisalign over other orthodontic systems?
Invisible: No one will know you're in treatment
Removable:You can take them off to eat, drink or brush your teeth
Comfortable:No brackets or wires
Convenient: Shorter and less frequent appointments
Natural:Your teeth remain intact
Price: From £1,900 - £3,500 (finance plan available)
Time taken: 9 - 18 months
Anaesthetic type: N/A
Hospital stay: N/A
Available from: Roy Dixon is principal dentist at Augusta Dental in Leamington Spa. For more information and a full list of treatments offered, call 0855 375 6505 or visit www.augustadental.co.uk