Invisalign refinements


What is an Invisalign refinement?

By Miranda, Registered Dental Hygienist

How Invisalign Refinements Work

We’ve recently seen an increase in people wanting to align their bite through Invisalign, for reasons related to both wellness and aesthetics.  But what does it truly take to get the smile you desire? The answer could be “refinements”. Since we’re big on transparency, we wanted to spend some time talking about what refinements are and why you might end up needing one.

Imagine this: You’ve committed to Invisalign, and think you’re doing a pretty good job following your dentist’s recommendations. You wear your trays for almost 22 hours a day (most of the time), come in for your 6 week progress checks, and you’re almost finished…except your dentist mentions you might need a “refinement” to get some teeth back on track. What gives?!

What is a refinement?

In a perfect world, the Invisalign process is a breeze and teeth move perfectly into place. For the majority of patients this is the case! However, in about a third of cases we’ll notice that the teeth aren’t moving into position exactly as planned. When this happens, a new set of aligners may be needed to “refine” the process. This usually takes place near the end of your treatment.

What is involved in the refinement process?

If we determine that you’ll need a refinement, we’ll take a new 3D scan of your teeth and fresh digital pictures to send to Invisalign. We’ll approve a new ClinCheck for you, and order additional aligner trays so you can start to “fine tune” your results.  These refinement trays are exactly the same as your Invisalign trays, just with an adjusted course, so you’ll still need to wear them 22 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Every case is different, but refinement aligners typically add an average of 3 extra months onto the original Invisalign plan. A refinement might also add cost to the treatment depending on the scope. It’s also worth noting that you may receive a series of refinement aligners and not just “a” refinement aligner. How many you receive will depend on your unique case and treatment plan.

Factors that might increase your chance of needing a refinement:

  • Not wearing your aligners properly and not wearing them the full 22 hours a day (for example, taking them out to eat and forgetting to put them back in after several hours)
  • Losing your aligners and not getting replacements right away
  • Not wearing your aligners for a long period of time due to an illness or accident
  • Broken or cracked aligners
  • Dental treatment that alters the shape of your teeth and affects the fit of your aligners
  • Complex movements of difficult teeth
  • Genetically slow movement of teeth

So after refinements, am I done with aligners?

Not exactly…once the refinement process is finished the final stage is Invisalign retainers. These are needed to “retain” all of that movement and hard work you put into shifting your teeth into their ideal positions. For the first six weeks, you’ll need to wear your retainers for 22 hours a day. Then you’ll move on to wearing the retainers solely at night. Again, every case is different so please consult your dentist for how long you should wear your retainers for. Typically the rule of thumb is to wear your retainers for as long as you want to keep your teeth straight… so this is certainly a long-term commitment!

Want a little help staying on track?

Many of our patients are using these cool apps to help track their progress and remember to wear their aligners correctly: My Invisalign, TrayMinder, Tray Time

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