There aren't any major time constraints for having a dental implant installed. The loss of a tooth doesn't trigger a countdown, ticking away until it reaches zero, after which you're no longer eligible for an implant. However, dental implants are generally more straightforward and predictable if you have the work performed as promptly as possible after the tooth has been lost. If your tooth has been missing for some years (or decades), you might be surprised if your dentist recommends you see an orthodontist as part of your preparation to receive your implant.
Invisalign is a non-invasive method for correcting mild to moderate orthodontic misalignment problems. They're often called invisible braces because when the transparent thermoplastic aligners are slotted over your teeth, they're practically invisible. As far as you were concerned, your only concern was the missing tooth, as opposed to any issues that warranted orthodontic treatment. The trouble is that your missing tooth may have had a domino effect on the rest of your teeth, progressively causing them to move out of alignment.
The Relationship Between Teeth
The alignment of a specific tooth is largely regulated by its neighbours. Teeth work in harmony with each other, allowing them to line up along your dental arch. Teeth need other teeth to remain in the correct position. As such, when a tooth is missing, there's a tendency for the teeth on either side of the gap to tilt into the space. This change is slow to develop, and won't necessarily be obvious. It can pose a major complication for your implant.
Lack of Space
When the teeth on either side of an empty dental socket have angled into the gap, the placement of a dental implant becomes difficult, if not impossible. There's simply not enough space for the prosthetic tooth to be attached to the implant. This is where Invisalign can be extremely beneficial, and even essential.
Eliminating the Tilt
Your Invisalign aligners will be configured to target the site of the empty dental socket, exerting light pressure on the angled teeth. Over the course of several months (with the precise timeline varying from patient to patient), your Invisalign aligners will slowly and gently eliminate the tilt, restoring the angled teeth to their previous vertical dimensions.
Once the misalignment of the affected teeth has been corrected, your Invisalign treatment has effectively cleared a path for your implant, and your surgery can proceed. It also ensures that there's no misalignment between the prosthetic tooth attached to the implant and the natural teeth on either side of it. It's about creating the most natural-looking outcome possible, which is only possible once orthodontic treatment has made room for your implant.
For more info about Invisalign, contact a local orthodontist or dentist.