Before a treatment plan can be created for you by your Invisalign certified practitioner, your dentist will need to take impressions of your teeth to document your current bite and position of your teeth prior to you starting the treatment.
This process is called ‘taking records’ (i.e. records for your teeth) and is key to your Invisalign treatment as making accurate and detailed impressions of your teeth is the first and most important step in creating your custom aligners.
Your Invisalign dentist will need a series of records prior to starting your treatment, including but not limited to standard photographs, x-rays as well as dental impressions and a bite registration.
Your Invisalign dentist will take photographs of both your face (profile and sides) and teeth. These includes:
This is important in documenting your Invisalign journey and will highlight the position of your teeth at the start of your treatment and the shape of your face, especially the lower part of your face – which is heavily impacted by the shape of your teeth.
Your Invisalign dentist will also take X-rays to assess the health of your jawbone, roots of your teeth as well as their positioning. This is also important to determine how much movement can be expect based on the health of your jawbone and positioning of your roots.
Your dentist will choose the correct-size plastic tray (mouth guard) for your upper teeth to ensure the tray fits in your mouth and allows for perfect impressions of your teeth. The process will be repeated for your lower teeth with another tray as the size and shape of your upper and bottom teeth might be completely different.
Your dentist will then mix two different types of Putty Soft, a clay like structure composed of a base and a catalyst. This putty is then moulded onto the plastic tray and inserted into the patient’s mouth to take the impressions of the upper teeth. The tray will remain in the patient’s mouth for approximately 3-5 minutes, which is the time taken for the Putty to harden and set.
Once the putty has finally set, the dentist will remove the tray from the patient’s mouth and repeat the process for the lower teeth.
In recent years, the digital and technological revolution has hit the healthcare sector and dentistry in particular has largely benefited from these advances.
Products like the iTero scanner, an intraoral scanning device are now seen in more and more practices Worldwide. The main benefits of these types of scanners for patients interested in the Invisalign product is that ClinChecks setups are roughly 50% faster than traditional methods, there are 10 times fewer rejections when impressions are submitted and 7 times fewer fit issues when the aligners are received and fitted into the patient’s mouth.
This in turn provides patients with a far better outcome than traditional methods and a better overall experience too.
Taking accurate Invisalign impressions will usually require between an hour and an hour and a half of your time as your Invisalign dentist will need to take photos, take x-rays if these have not already been done and taking the impressions.
If your dentist opts for traditional dental impressions using Putty, they will need to mix two different types of Putty Soft, apply the Putty on your tray and insert the tray in your mouth to take impressions of your upper arch – which should set within 5-6 minutes.
They will then have to repeat the process for your lower arch. This explains in part why your dentist will usually allocate an hour to an hour and a half to take your dental impressions.
If your dentist uses the iTero scanner, the process is likely to be much faster and you could have your impressions done within 45 minutes as they will still have to take photos, x-rays and discuss your treatment planning with you.
Once your Invisalign impressions have been sent to the Align Technology lab, the process is fairly straightforward.
The technician will create a digital scan of your dental impressions (this won’t be required if your dentist has used the iTero scanner), and use this to create a 3-D model of your upper and lower arches which will be used to create a computer generated animation.
The animation will:
This process should not take more than 2-3 weeks, at which point the technician will upload the simulation and treatment plan to the Invisalign practitioner site for your dentist to review and sign-off.
In certain cases, your dentist might want to change the treatment plan slightly which would require the Align Technology technician to create a new simulation with those considerations in mind.
All in all, you should expect to get your aligners within 4-6 weeks of your dental impressions being taken and start your journey to your new smile.
To find an Invisalign practitioner in your area, simply use the Smileo search functionality below, enter your postcode or city and hit search. You can refine your search results by treatment type and select ‘Invisalign’ using the ‘Braces & Aligners’ filter.