For most patients who need Invisalign, the only preparation work is being measured for the aligner trays themselves. The dimensions of your bite are captured using either a manual mould to create a physical silicone impression or with a digital intra-oral scanning device. But for some patients, additional preparation work is needed to prepare their bite to be realigned by Invisalign. What does it mean when your orthodontist tells you that you'll need interproximal reduction?
Modifying Your Teeth for Invisalign
Interproximal reduction (IPR) modifies the shapes of the teeth by removing certain sections of them. This is far less extreme than it may sound. Many peoples' orthodontic issues are partially due to a lack of space (or irregular space) between teeth, leading to teeth becoming crooked. The repositioning of teeth as they're shifted into alignment can be facilitated by increasing the space between teeth, and this is the purpose of IPR.
The Mesial and Distal Sides of Your Teeth
Your interproximal dental enamel is on the mesial and distal sides of your teeth, and these are the sides of the tooth that face each other in the dental arch. Removing a tiny sliver of dental enamel from these sides of the tooth increases the interdental space (the space between teeth). When this interdental space is expanded, however fractionally, teeth can be repositioned more efficiently, with more predictable results.
Not Applicable to All Patients
Not all orthodontic patients will need IPR, and your orthodontist will inform you during the planning stages if this treatment is needed to make your Invisalign successful. It really depends on the specific configuration of a patient's teeth, along with their ultimate orthodontic goals. What can you expect when IPR is required?
The Interproximal Reduction Process
Only dental enamel will be removed, and your enamel doesn't contain any nerve endings, so the process will be painless. The best method will be determined by your orthodontist, but a process known as air rotor stripping, using a small handheld tool, is likely to be utilised. This can result in some vibrations, and if this should cause discomfort, your jaw can be numbed prior to the procedure. Your teeth may become temporarily sensitive following your IPR, and your orthodontist may apply a fluoride varnish to your teeth to fortify them—which should also reduce any sensitivity.
Once any necessary IPR has been performed, your Invisalign treatment can commence and will be all the more effective now that your teeth have been properly prepared. For more information on Invisalign, contact a professional near you.