Invisible aligners are an increasingly popular option for those looking to fix their smile. It is easy to see why, as they allow you to shift your teeth without the hassle that usually comes along with traditional metal braces. In addition to being much less visible compared to other types of braces (essentially not visible at all!), clear teeth aligners allow for the easier upkeep of dental hygiene and the ability to whiten teeth during treatment. Metal braces are not removable until the completion of the treatment, making it easier for tiny food particles to get caught in between the brackets and wires. This permanence also makes whitening during the time of the treatment ineffective and not recommended. On the other hand, invisible aligners can be removed at your convenience to brush and floss your teeth thoroughly and get whitening treatments whenever you would like.
But if you have missing teeth, you may be wondering if invisible aligners are even an option for you. Since you may not visit an orthodontist for adjustments quite as often as you would with traditional braces, it might seem as though having missing teeth would make treatment with invisible aligners more difficult. Thankfully, this isn’t actually true- dental treatment with missing teeth is still quite possible in most cases using invisible aligners!
Can You Get Braces with Missing Teeth?
Yes, you can certainly get braces with missing teeth in most cases. Oftentimes, the teeth surrounding the missing teeth or tooth will need to be shifted prior to getting a replacement tooth. This ensures that there is an appropriate amount of space for the new tooth if there wasn’t previously room to put an implant in.
Although you can get braces with missing teeth most of the time, there are some cases in which this might not be possible, at least not before a separate intervention. For instance, some more severe cases involving missing teeth might require oral surgery before getting braces. If you have a bite problem that originates in the jaw bone rather than the teeth as well as missing teeth, you may be a candidate for oral surgery to correct your bite problem first.
Additionally, some cases might require that a fake tooth be implanted first. Following the implantation by an orthodontist or an oral surgeon, the patient should be able to proceed as usual with braces.
What about getting a retainer with fake teeth?
Getting and consistently wearing a retainer following any sort of dental realignment treatment is absolutely necessary to the continued success of the treatment. If you fail to wear your retainer, your teeth may revert back to the way they were before braces (or clear aligners).
If you have a fake tooth or several fake teeth and get braces, getting a retainer is still important to maintain the results of your treatment. Additionally, if you get braces or choose to do your Invisalign treatment in order to make the space for a fake tooth, wearing a retainer for missing teeth allows the new alignment to remain in place before the dental implant is put in.
With fake teeth, the retainer will still function as it would without any missing teeth. It rests on top of your teeth, whether real or fake, to ensure that they remain in alignment following the completion of your treatment plan. Again, just like in any other situation, wearing your retainer is essential to maintaining the results of your treatment.
Benefits and Inconveniences of Getting Braces with Missing Teeth
If you’re considering getting braces and have missing teeth, you might be wondering what the potential pros and cons are. Continue reading below to find out more about what the specific benefits and inconveniences might be for you, as each individual’s situation is likely to be slightly different.
What Can Invisalign Not Fix?
While Invisalign can treat many problems, it is not the best option for everyone and every situation. Invisalign can treat problems including overbite, crossbite, underbite, crowding, and gap teeth. With this being said, there are limitations to the extent to which Invisalign can fix these problems, and there are other problems that are best treated by other options entirely. Even the best teeth aligners cannot compare to braces in some situations. For example, Invisalign cannot close gaps between teeth that are larger than 6mm.
The following includes additional examples of Invisalign problems or limitations:
Difficulty with the movement of small or pegged teeth
In some cases, with small or otherwise unusually shaped teeth, Invisalign cannot fit around the teeth well and, therefore, will not be able to shift them correctly.
Inability to move teeth up or down
While traditional braces have the ability to move teeth up or down in addition to shifting them side to side, Invisalign does not. This prevents Invisalign from being able to treat patients requiring this type of movement for their teeth. Patients requiring this type of movement for their teeth would likely benefit more from traditional orthodontic treatment.
Invisalign cannot fit over some forms of prior dental work such as dental bridges, which prevents the aligners from functioning.
Severely Rotated Teeth
While Invisalign can correct most forms of minor tooth rotation, it cannot realign a tooth that is rotated past 20 degrees.
Extremely crowded teeth
Although Invisalign can work in many cases involving crowded teeth, it may decrease in efficacy as the problem’s complexity increases. In the most extreme cases of crowding, you may be better served by braces than Invisalign.
A midline discrepancy is when a patient’s two front teeth are not centered in their mouth. While Invisalign can correct a midline discrepancy up to 2mm to the left or to the right on both the top and bottom teeth, it cannot correct a more pronounced problem.
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction
The TMJ connects your jaw to your skull, and disorders involving this joint can cause pain on either side of your jaw. Since TMJ pain is more of a structural problem in the jaw rather than strictly an alignment problem with the teeth, it is unlikely that Invisalign would be able to help alleviate this issue. In this case, metal braces or other treatment options are likely to be better options.
Invisalign with Missing Teeth: It is a good solution to fix your smile?
In most cases, yes! Invisalign can be a perfect way to fix your smile. When comparing Invisalign vs braces, invisalign is significantly more conventient both cosmetically and regarding the regular maintenance of dental hygiene. Initially, it is easy to think that the delicate-appearing Invisalign aligners would not be suitable for those with missing teeth, but that is not the case at all.
Invisalign can help create the space necessary for dental implants if you have missing teeth, which will help give you the best smile possible. Even in cases where it is more appropriate to get dental implants before starting your treatment, Invisalign can still be a great option afterward. Invisalign also offers nighttime aligners as an option, allowing you to straighten your teeth without even needing to wear your aligners during the day.
Beyond the above benefits, Invisalign offers flexible payment plans tailored to your individual financial needs. Although typically more expensive compared to traditional braces, they aim to cater to everyone and make Invisalign an affordable treatment option for anyone who would like to use it. Although there may be alternative cheap teeth aligners on the market and some companies offer mail order teeth aligners, Invisalign is often looked at as an industry gold standard.
Many people can benefit from Invisalign’s clear aligners, regardless of whether or not they have missing teeth. If you are uncertain as to whether or not Invisalign would be the best choice for your unique situation, schedule a consultation with an Invisalign-certified orthodontist near you to find out (this can be done easily by visiting Invisalign’s website and using their find a doctor feature); or check out our review of the top 6 home teeth aligners.