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Health Team

Invisalign system better helps patients obtain straighter teeth

Posted May 14, 2014

Faye Piephoff’s recent dentist visit was a big one for the 19-year-old.

“I’m on my last trays and they’re going to remove all the attachments and give me a retainer,” she said.

Piephoff’s teeth were once crooked and crowded, but her smile has been straightened thanks to a long series of clear plastic "aligners" known as the Invisalign system.

“Clear liner therapy and Invisalign are the future of orthodontics,” said Dr. Bill Gierie, a UNC orthodontic instructor who teaches students how to use the Invisalign system.

The system involves shorter patient appointments and more time at a computer - a digital scan of a patient's teeth helps Gierie plan his straightening strategy.

“This allows the doctor to move the teeth in any direction they want, to really get a precise final setup of the teeth,” he said.

Tooth-colored attachments are placed on the teeth to help the aligner move them in place. Each one is worn for about two weeks, then replaced with a slightly different aligner.

Patients must wear the aligners for 22 hours a day, but they can be taken out for eating, brushing or flossing – which is why Piephoff preferred them.

“It’s clear and I can eat whatever I want,” she said.

The cost of the system is now comparable to traditional braces.

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