If your teeth are crooked, badly aligned or overcrowded it can completely ruin the appearance of an otherwise attractive smile. No matter how white, clean and well cared for your teeth are, if they don’t meet properly then they will look and, perhaps more importantly, feel wrong, stopping you being able to relax, chat and smile with other people. In the past, the treatment for teeth affected in this manner usually consisted of a set of braces – metal wires which were stretched over brackets cemented to the teeth and which were tightened over time to gradually shift the position of the teeth in question. Whilst it was undoubtedly effective, many people were reluctant to access this treatment on the basis of the fact that it looked obtrusive and was often uncomfortable. The latest treatment, however, is Invisalign, a system often referred to as ‘invisible’ clear braces, and with good reason. Invisalign takes the form of a series of retainers made from ultra-lightweight transparent plastic. The retainer is replaced every two weeks or so and, over time, gradually and naturally shifts the position of the teeth. During this time, the actual retainers are so discrete as to be virtually invisible to the naked eye, and so convenient that you can slip them on and off for the purposes of eating, drinking and cleaning your teeth. Not only is it effective, but the Invisalign system is becoming increasingly flexible, with different versions, such as Invisalign Express, Invisalign Teen and Invisalign i7 being recommended for different patients. Invisalign Express and Invisalign Teen Invisalign Express is a version of the treatment which, as the name implies, works a little bit more quickly than the standard version, and is recommended for patients who have only minor orthodontic problems. Whereas standard Invisalign braces can take between 12-18 months to have an effect, the Express version achieves noticeable results in as little as 6 months. Invisalign Teen is a version of the treatment aimed specifically at teenagers, whereas the other versions can be used on both teenagers and adults. Invisalign on the whole is highly popular with teenagers, who tend to feel more self-conscious than adults and would thus be even less comfortable wearing traditional braces, and the Teen version refines the formula a little to make it an even better fit for the teenage lifestyle. This is mainly reflected in the fact that Invisalign Teen comes with several replacement pieces, an acknowledgement of the fact that giving teenagers the freedom to remove their braces when convenient also means running the very real risk of them being mislaid. Invisalign and Traditional Braces – The Differences Choosing between Invisalign braces and the more traditional orthodontic braces is something which every patient will need to do after careful consideration and much discussion with their orthodontist. There are a few simple comparisons to be made, however, and the following is a brief guide to some of the differences between the two: Treatment Time To a large degree this will depend upon the extent of the problems being tackled. Indeed, patients with the most severe orthodontic difficulties may be advised to opt for traditional braces altogether, but in most cases it will be a straight choice. As an average, standard Invisalign braces shift teeth over a period of 12 to 18 months, whilst traditional braces are more likely to take up to 2 years. Appearance and Comfort When it comes to the question of appearance, Invisalign braces come out on top every time. The clear plastic retainers are all but invisible to the naked eye, whereas many people feel highly self-conscious about the appearance of traditional braces. In terms of comfort, Invisalign retainers again offer the better option, since the lack of metal and rubber components means they are far less likely to catch or irritate the soft tissue of the mouth. Dental Health The fact that you can remove Invisalign braces to clean your teeth, and thus maintain your standard dental hygiene regime, means that they are far less likely to contribute to tooth decay or staining of the enamel, both of which problems can occur when you have a traditional brace cemented into place. Invisalign i7 For some patients, orthodontic treatment consists of many months spent slowly shifting teeth which are badly out of position. Sometimes, however, all that’s required to make your smile everything it could be is to make a very minor adjustment to one or two teeth. Dealing with a blemish such as this may seem like a small thing, but the boost to your confidence which you’ll receive from knowing that your smile is now perfect will be anything but. The Invisalign i7 system has been developed for cases such as this. It utilises custom made clear plastic retainers which are designed to shift particular teeth in turn, until your smile looks exactly how you want it to look. At the start of the treatment, your orthodontist will use 3D modelling to demonstrate exactly how the retainers will shift your teeth, and what your smile will look like when treatment has finished. Every 2 weeks or so your orthodontist will replace your retainer with the next one along, each one shifting the selected teeth a little bit more. As it deals with smaller problems, the Invisalign i7 treatment can fix your smile in as little as 3 months. If you’d like to have your teeth straightened with the maximum impact but the minimum inconvenience, then pay a visit to your nearest Perfect Smile clinic, where an experienced orthodontist will be only too happy to answer all your questions, and explain exactly what Invisalign could do for you.