Dr. Bruce Cooper: How Patients Benefit From Invisalign

Not everyone gives their dentist flowers. One patient of Dr. Bruce Cooper, however, was so grateful for the outcome of her treatment that she brought him a potted floral plant. “She’d had an overbite and crooked teeth,” says Cooper. “She was very disciplined and motivated and when it was over, so appreciative.”

That patient used Invisalign, a clear alternative to metal braces that is less invasive and works faster. “Bands, brackets and wires are not part of the mechanics,” says Cooper, who practices at Cooper Moss Advanced Dentistry in Olympia. “Patients wear the clear aligners for 18 to 20 hours a day. For working adults, they don’t have to have the orthodontic look while they’re having treatment.”

The clear aligner is custom designed for each patient, moving teeth horizontally and vertically and applying the right amount of force in a given area. Each new set of aligners is progressive, moving teeth gradually to where they need to be.

Invisalign offers two main benefits, says Cooper: orthodontic functionality and improved aesthetics. “It allows for good alignment of the teeth and improves how you chew. Once the teeth are aligned, patients can explore further cosmetic options.” Without alignment, it can be pointless to cosmetically restore badly worn or chipped teeth because the wearing or chipping is likely to reoccur. “First we have to get the bite right,” says Cooper, “then other restorations will be much longer lasting.

Patients tend to fall into two camps, says Cooper. “The majority are adults. Some had received some form of treatment when they were in middle school or high school but have had a relapse. In those cases, it usually takes less than six months to fix.”

Other patients may have been struggling with unattractive smiles for most of their lives but lacked the opportunity to fix them. “Often we’ll have someone in their 40’s or 50’s who never had the opportunity for a correction,” says Cooper. “They’re really pleased at the outcome.”

Patients also appreciate how quickly the process goes. “Universally, patients say it was easier and faster to get results than they expected,” Cooper explains. “The way the aligners work to gradually move the teeth, there’s an efficiency that’s gained. Treatment typically takes one half or two-thirds of the time that brackets do.”

Occasionally, Cooper gets questions about the limitations of Invisalign, but he notes that the process has evolved since it was first introduced. “The company that started it has really increased the applications for it. Now, it works in the vast majority of treatments and in some cases, it works better than typical wires and brackets, but it can also be used in conjunction with them if necessary.”