Invisalign is intended to straighten all the teeth in your mouth. But what about if you no longer have all your teeth? Missing teeth can actually contribute to orthodontic problems. When a tooth is missing, its neighbours can begin to tilt into the created gap. This can lead to a domino effect, with other teeth then moving out of their previous alignment in response to this extra space in the dental arch. Missing teeth or not, you still need some form of orthodontic treatment. Will your missing teeth mean that Invisalign isn't an option?
Your Teeth Will Still Move
When Invisalign is applied to your teeth, they will move—regardless of whether all your teeth are intact or not. It's still in your best interests to have your missing teeth replaced with a dental restoration, but it can actually be more worthwhile to wait until your orthodontic treatment has finished.
Dental restorations can't move like natural teeth during orthodontic work. For example, if you have a dental implant placed in your jaw, its position will be fixed, and relative to your other teeth. If a dental implant is placed prior to much-needed orthodontic work, the implant's fixed position may become misaligned as the rest of your teeth reposition themselves. You certainly need to explore your teeth replacement options, but it can be more practical to delay this until your Invisalign treatment has been successfully completed.
The fact that you have missing teeth can complicate your Invisalign treatment, but your orthodontist has a few ways to overcome these complications. The most pressing concern is that your Invisalign aligner can't apply sufficient pressure to your dental arch, since it uses the teeth in your dental arch for traction. When teeth are missing, some of this necessary traction is sacrificed, which can reduce the effectiveness of your aligner trays.
Ridges and Attachments
To compensate for any missing traction, your orthodontist might have your aligner trays manufactured with what Invisalign calls power ridges. These are small ridges built into the internal curves of your trays, allowing them to obtain a better grip on your teeth. You may also need tooth attachments to assist your power ridges. These are simply small spots of strategically positioned, tooth-coloured dental cement applied to your dental enamel—which gives your power ridges something to grip onto.
In short, you can undergo Invisalign treatment if you have a few missing teeth. But your orthodontic work will only be the first step in restoring your smile since you'll need to have those teeth replaced once your Invisalign has finished working its magic.
For more information on Invisalign, contact a professional near you.