Why Are Teeth Sometimes Filed Before Invisalign Treatment Can Begin?

12 July 2023
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


Your Invisalign treatment can't start until your orthodontist has taken a comprehensive intraoral scan of your teeth. This uses a small handheld scanning wand, and it creates a 3D digital model of your jaw and teeth for your custom-fit aligner trays. But this scan can't be done until your teeth are the right shape. What does this mean?

Your Overlapping Teeth

Your Invisalign treatment may be intended to correct overlapping teeth, when teeth tilt to the side of each other, positioning one in front of the other. In their current state, the satisfactory alignment of your teeth may not be possible. Your Invisalign treatment would simply push these overlapping teeth further into each other. There's a solution to this serious problem that might have otherwise prevented treatment.

The Exact Dimensions of Your Teeth

Prior to performing an intraoral scan that captures the exact dimensions of your teeth, your orthodontist may need to perform interproximal reduction. This is a type of tooth filing that removes a tiny, fractional amount of the tooth's surface enamel on the surfaces of teeth that face each across the gaps between your teeth, which are your interproximal zones.

Your Facial Midline

Imagine a vertical line down the middle of your face. This is your facial midline. The mesial surfaces of your teeth are the interproximal surfaces of your teeth that are facing towards this midline. Distal surfaces face away from your midline. These are the surfaces that will be targeted. The layer of enamel to be removed is wafer-thin, and won't affect the health of your teeth—you can spare it.

Interproximal Reduction for Invisalign

Remember, only a tiny amount of the tooth's structure will be affected. Interproximal reduction isn't a major procedure. Your orthodontist will use a combination of tools, such as a handheld electric bur (buffing tool), or even a selection of files. It's painless (your tooth enamel doesn't have nerves), but you can receive a numbing agent if you're sensitive to the vibrations caused by the procedure. The results are immediate and subtle. Looking at your teeth in the mirror afterwards, you may not be able to spot the difference.

The difference is certainly there, and your orthodontist has created a tiny amount of extra space between your teeth—which is enough for the overlapping of your teeth to be corrected by your Invisalign treatment. Your teeth can now be scanned, and your orthodontic treatment can begin.

Contact a local provider to learn more about Invisalign treatment.