June 8, 2023
Overall, you like your smile. It seems mostly straight, but you have a couple of teeth you’d prefer to fix. In your estimation, it shouldn’t require too much work; in fact, you think your smile could be resolved by having Invisalign on just that one arch. But is that even possible? Under what circumstances would single-arch treatment be acceptable with Invisalign? Read on to learn the answers!
Why Both Arches Are Usually Treated
Most of the time, Invisalign clear aligners are used on both the upper and lower arches because adjustments must be made to both to resolve all alignment issues. While one may have gaps, the other may be overcrowded, or perhaps each one has crooked teeth. Regardless of the exact situation, most patients have alignment problems on more than one arch.
In addition, shifting teeth typically impacts more than just the top or bottom teeth—it can also alter your bite. After all, when you change the alignment of one arch, it will match up differently with the other. Treating both at the same time ensures that the bite ends up perfectly aligned by the end.
When Single-Arch Treatment Is Possible
Although uncommon, it is possible for a patient to require Invisalign on only the bottom or top arch. The other may already be perfectly spaced and primed to align with the other. Once the one arch is treated, the already aligned arch may line up just fine! In these cases, your dentist may recommend single-arch treatment.
The only way to know whether you’ll need two Invisalign aligners or just one is to have a consultation with your dentist. After examining your mouth, they can determine which method would most benefit your smile.
Rules of Invisalign That Apply Either Way
Whether you have one aligner or two, most of the rules for treatment still apply. You still shouldn’t eat or drink anything but water with your aligners in. (After all, biting and chewing require both arches.) You still need to brush and floss your teeth before putting the aligner back onto your teeth, and you still need to wear the aligner for at least 20 hours every day. You may likely have mild soreness when you switch to a new set and when you first start, but it could be a little less intense because only one arch is shifting.
If you want to address your minor alignment issues with Invisalign and believe that single-arch treatment is the way to go, definitely have an honest conversation with your dentist. However, be aware that both arches may require shifting to create your perfectly straight smile.
About the Author
Dr. James Olsen has been certified in Invisalign since 2008, and he takes more than 100 hours of continuing education coursework every year to keep his dentistry skills sharp and updated. As an Ann Arbor native, he attended the University of Michigan for both his bachelor’s and dental degrees and has been practicing here for 35 years. Would you like to discuss Invisalign treatment with Dr. Olsen? Reach out to his office by calling 734-996-0200 or visiting our Contact Us page.
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