Today, we have a guest post from Dr. Jeffrey Kwong of Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics in El Dorado Hills, CA. Dr. Jeff, as he’s fondly known, is a friend and fellow orthodontist who will be sharing his Invisalign knowledge and discussing the different orthodontic problems that can be addressed using clear aligners.

Thanks for having me, Dr. Streight, Dr. Craig and Dr. Kierl! Invisalign and Invisalign Teen are popular treatment options at my practice just as they are at Craig & Streight Orthodontics. It’s no wonder considering the custom aligners are virtually invisible, removable and comfortable. However, years ago, we really only used Invisalign for mild and moderate cases. Patients with complicated or severe bite issues usually had to opt for braces. That’s not the case anymore though. Thanks to upgrades in materials and things like Invisalign attachments, we can facilitate more complex tooth movements with clear aligners and treat a wider range of cases. So, what can Invisalign fix? Read on to find out.

Spacing Basics

Spacing, or gap teeth, is when you have a gap between two or more teeth. It’s usually because of missing teeth, genetics, teeth that are too narrow for the jaw or oral habits, such as thumb sucking. A lot of people think gap teeth are a cosmetic issue and something that simply makes you unhappy when you look in the mirror but it’s more than that. Spacing can create oral health issues, including having a negative impact on the health of your gums.  

Can Invisalign be used to Fix Gaps in Your Smile?

Good news, if you have spaces between your teeth, Invisalign can help! An experienced orthodontist can close the gaps using clear aligners. Each set of aligners is programmed to achieve certain movements so as you make your way through the series, your teeth will shift bit by bit until the spaces are gone and your teeth are aligned.

Crowding Basics

Crowding is the opposite of spacing. Crowding happens when there isn’t enough room in the jaw to fit all of the teeth. Teeth can become twisted, overlap or stick out. The issue is usually caused by an imbalance in the tooth-to-jaw-size relationship but it can also happen if the primary teeth fall out too early. Since crowded teeth are harder to clean, crowding can result in tooth decay and gum disease.

Does Invisalign Work for Crowded Teeth

Yup. We can use Invisalign for crowded teeth. It works well for creating space so that the teeth can shift into their ideal places. If certain teeth are blocked out of line or we have to achieve more complicated tooth movements, we can pair Invisalign with tooth-colored attachments.

Overbite Basics

An overbite, or overjet, is when the top teeth stick out too far in front of the bottom teeth. Almost everyone has some degree of an overbite. However, when the space between the upper and lower teeth is too large, orthodontic treatment is recommended. An overbite can be due to genetics or habits like prolonged thumb sucking or tongue thrusting. An overbite leaves the top front teeth susceptible to injury and can lead to uneven wear and jaw pain.

Does Invisalign Work for an Overbite?

If you have an overbite Invisalign can be an excellent tool to fix it. Overbites can be related to jaw size and teeth position. Orthodontists very commonly fix these types of bites. We can program the aligners to shift protruding teeth back. If needed, we can also use those attachments we talked about as well as Invisalign rubber bands to move the teeth into their proper places. This way, your smile doesn’t just look awesome but your bite is healthy and stable as well.  

Underbite Basics

An underbite is when the bottom teeth are in front of the top teeth when your mouth is closed. It’s usually skeletal in nature and is because your lower jaw is larger than the upper jaw and too far forward. An underbite can make it difficult to chew and speak and can result in uneven wear of the teeth.

Can Invisalign be used to Fix an Underbite?

If you have an underbite, Invisalign may be an option. Keep in mind that an underbite is an issue that’s best addressed when a patient is young and still growing because it is commonly jaw related. We recommend a child’s first orthodontic evaluation be scheduled at seven years old so that we can help identify and treat jaw-related problems early. This is because we can more easily manipulate the jaws and guide their growth. If we can help align the jaws early, aligning the teeth later using Invisalign clear aligners is certainly a possibility. If an underbite isn’t very severe, there’s a great chance that aligners and elastics can be used to help your smile and bite. They might combined with other adjunctive techniques like interproximal reduction (polishing teeth to resize them), extraction of teeth, or cosmetic bonding of teeth.

In some cases, when a patient has a severe underbite, surgical orthodontics may be necessary. This is where orthodontic treatment is combined with jaw surgery. Invisalign can be used to align the teeth in the jaws, while surgery helps to align the jaws themselves.

Crossbite Basics

A patient is said to have a crossbite when some of the bottom teeth sit in front of some of the top teeth. You can have a back crossbite or a front crossbite depending on which teeth are involved. Crossbites can be caused by genetics, the early loss of baby teeth, trauma or poor oral habits. Since patients will sometimes compensate for a crossbite by shifting their jaw to one side, it can lead to permanent changes in facial structure and tooth positions, which is why early evaluation is a good idea. If not treated, a crossbite can cause teeth to wear down and may lead to gum issues or bone loss.

Does Invisalign Work for a Crossbite?

Invisalign can often work to correct single tooth crossbites, which are usually related to tooth position. However, the crossbites that are jaw related that may involve many teeth on one side are best treated in other ways that can help set up the jaws so that they are the proper size. These jaws are like the foundations of a house, and to build a nice sturdy house, you need a solid foundation and weight bearing walls and support beams evenly distributed. 

Open Bite Basics

An open bite is when the top and bottom teeth don’t touch when the mouth is closed. It can be caused by habits, including tongue thrusting, prolonged pacifier use and thumb sucking, as well as poor jaw growth. Having an open bite makes it hard to bite into foods or to chew properly, and often leads to uneven wear and tear on the teeth.

Can Invisalign be used to Fix an Open Bite?

This is where Invisalign can excel. Open bite cases are typically more challenging with braces.  Often times, tooth movement with aligners can be used to target the movement of specific teeth at specific times; we call this staging. Staging is very important in pairing tooth movements to help with open bite correction.   

It’s important to acknowledge that Invisalign is a tool for orthodontists, much like a brush is a tool for an artist. A knowledgeable, experienced orthodontist can use Invisalign to correct common orthodontic issues. However, every patient’s smile is unique and the only way to determine if Invisalign is right for you is to visit an orthodontist for a consultation. If you’re in the market for a Mustang, Norman or OKC orthodontist, schedule a complimentary visit at Craig & Streight Orthodontics. If you happen to be on the West Coast, or have any family or friends that are in need of treatment in El Dorado Hills, California, check out Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics!

About Dr. Jeffrey Kwong

Dr. Jeff earned his dental degree at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. He then stayed on to complete his orthodontic specialty training where he received the clinical award at his graduation. At Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics, he relies on his extensive experience and education to offer personalized, attentive care and outstanding results.