Ask the Dentist: 3 Types of Invisalign
Don’t worry if you can’t tell apart the difference between Invisalign types. Dr. Pua Hong Ping can, and he’s here to clear the air.
[Editor’s note: This article has been updated in December 2019 to reflect the latest types of Invisalign currently available.]
Most of us who struggle with crooked teeth have heard of Invisalign, the almost-invisible teeth-aligning method. But not all of us can figure out the difference between the many types of Invisalign available, so we’ve gotten iDental’s Dr Pua Hong Ping, a Platinum Elite Invisalign Provider, to explain.
So, Dr. Pua, how many types of Invisalign are there?
Right now, in Singapore, there are three types of Invisalign:
- Invisalign for adults
- Invisalign Teen for teenagers
- Invisalign First for children aged 6-10 years of age
In general, when we talk about Invisalign, more often than not, we’re referring to Invisalign for adults. But as the names suggest, there are different types of Invisalign geared towards the needs of patients of different ages.
Wait, children can get Invisalign?!
They certainly can — but it’s not what you’re thinking. For children between the ages of 6 to 10, our goal is not to straighten their teeth but to prepare for a straighter and healthier smile. You can think of Invisalign First as a ‘phase 1’ treatment where our aim is to facilitate the good development young jaws and/or arches so that there is sufficient room for their existing milk teeth and optimal space for their permanent teeth to erupt. When they get older and have a full set of permanent teeth, they can ‘graduate’ to phase 2, which is the teeth-straightening Invisalign that we’re familiar with.
Why do teenagers need a different type of Invisalign?
Simply put, it’s because teenagers have different orthodontic needs. Some teenagers still have their deciduous (milk) teeth. We need to be able to estimate how much space to leave for the adult tooth to emerge later. Teeth in teenagers also tend to move at a different speed, which is another important consideration in teeth alignment.
The best part about Invisalign Teen is a feature that has only recently been introduced to Singapore — Mandibular Advancement. I learnt about this feature in 2016 at the European Invisalign Summit and I’m really excited to be among the group of 20 local practitioners approved to apply it.
Mandibular Advancement taps on the child’s growth spurt to encourage the proper development of the lower jaw. If uncorrected, this would almost always require jaw surgery later in life. Before Mandibular Advancement, we had to use a device called Twin Block. It was very uncomfortable and not at all pretty, so I’m happy to have a more advanced option to offer my young patients now.
I heard there are different types of Invisalign for adults too.
You’re probably referring to the different Invisalign packages. Invisalign and Invisalign Teen are both available in four packages, depending on the severity of malocclusions (or the imperfect positioning of teeth).
- Invisalign Comprehensive is designed for people who need greater tooth movements owing to conditions such as overcrowding or spacing. These cases tend to be more complex so they require more time and more sets of aligners.
- Invisalign Moderate is meant for less complex cases of crowding or spacing, and is generally prescribed if your dentist believes that your ideal smile can be achieved with no more than 26 sets of aligners.
- Invisalign Lite is yet another step down in terms of condition complexity. It targets mild to moderate cases that call for just 14 sets of aligners.
- Invisalign Express is designed for very minor corrections in cases of, for example, slight post-braces relapse. It involves a maximum of 7 sets of aligners.
Generally speaking, minor malocclusions require fewer aligners to treat, and would therefore be faster and cheaper.
So, doctor, which Invisalign package is for me?
To answer that, I need to ask some questions first! I always talk to my patients to understand why and what they want to achieve, before explaining their options. I like to encourage my patients to think about their preferences and understand what is involved before we make the decision together.
Dr. Pua Hong Ping from i.Dental is a Platinum Elite Invisalign Provider accredited by Align Technology. He is also an approved Osstem Implant, Botox and Fillers provider and certified by the Academy of Laser Dentistry to use Erbium and Diode Lasers. Dr Pua graduated from King’s College London and completed his electives at University of California, Los Angeles and a New York aesthetic clinic.