Clear aligners, also known as clear-aligner treatment, are orthodontic devices that are a transparent, plastic form of dental braces used to adjust teeth. As of 2017, there are more than 27 products available including Invisalign and ClearCorrect.
Aligners are one of many technological advancements that have made orthodontic treatment less conspicuous, and one of many “appliances” orthodontists use to move teeth and align jaws to create a healthy, beautiful smile.
Like traditional braces, aligners are designed to move teeth a little at a time. Before treatment begins, the orthodontist will examine the patient, and take diagnostic records including x-rays, photographs, and impressions or digital scans of the teeth. From that information, the orthodontist can arrive at a diagnosis, and then work within the aligner software to design your smile and plan the treatment process – which tooth moves where, and in what order – guiding teeth into healthy positions. Remember, this is all of the teeth – not just the few that are seen when someone smiles. The goal is a healthy “bite” – top and bottom teeth that fit together properly.
With the end goal in mind, a series of plastic aligners are created using the patient’s initial impressions or digital scans as the starting point. The aligners are plastic replicas of your teeth. Wearing them puts gentle pressure on the teeth, ever-so-slightly repositioning them. It is recommended aligners be worn 22 hours a day, or as prescribed by the orthodontist. Each set of aligners is worn for a week or two before going to the next set. Over time, teeth reach their ideal places, according to the orthodontist’s plan. The total number of aligners will vary by the needs of each patient. As with traditional braces, patients will need to wear retainers after their teeth reach their new positions.
Who is suitable for Clear Aligner(Invisalign) treatment?
Clear Aligners can help to improve your smile if your teeth are crowded, you have gaps between your teeth, teeth in the wrong position or you would like to create space for an implant/bridge or denture. Please discuss with us if you are suitable - it only takes up to 5 minutes for us to run a complimentary digital assessment of your suitability for Invisalign after we’ve made sure you’re dentally fit.
How long does it take?
Every case is unique and the length of time that you will need to wear the aligners depends on the complexity of your smile. Typically treatment can last between 3 and 8 months. We will provide you with a series of aligners which are worn for about two weeks at a time before being replaced by the next in the series.
How often will I have to see my dentist once I start treatment?
We will usually like to see you every 4 - 6 weeks to ensure the treatment is progressing as planned and that you are happy.
How often should the aligners be worn?
Aligners should be worn all the time during treatment, except when eating, brushing or flossing teeth.
Will you be able to see my aligners?
The aligners are clear, there are no metal wires or brackets. No one may even notice that you’re wearing these virtually invisible aligners.
Are the aligners comfortable?
Some people may experience temporary, minor discomfort/pressure for the first few days, at the beginning of each new stage of treatment when they insert a new aligner. This feeling is normal and is a sign that the aligners are moving your teeth gradually, helping you to achieve the final results.
Will the aligners affect speech?
The vast majority of patients report no effect on speech. However, as with traditional orthodontic appliances, there is an initial adjustment period associated with having something new in the mouth.
Are the effects permanent?
Following the end of your treatment, your dentist will advise you that you must wear retainers whilst you sleep every night for at-least 12 months. Following this, retainers will need to be worn occasionally for life to help maintain the new position of your teeth.
What are the alternatives?
Unfortunately not everyone is suitable for Invisalign orthodontic treatment, we are more than happy to refer you to a specialist orthodontist to discuss your options. Alternatives may include traditional fixed orthodontic treatment.