Clear aligners, Invisible braces, Invisalign
Clear aligners, Invisible braces, Invisalign (a brand name that has become a generic term like Coke even though many companies make clear aligners) are now a part of the Orthodontic tool box used to move teeth to build healthy beautiful smiles.
Like braces clear aligners are designed to move teeth in small increments. Also like braces, aligners need to be planned in a specific sequence in order to move the teeth most efficiently into the correct position. “You can’t move all the teeth at once”. Most importantly, aligners are not a “do it yourself “ technique, the computer technician moves the teeth under the guidance of the Orthodontist. The Orthodontist, not the technician, has the education, experience and skill to move the teeth correctly within biologic limits to ensure the health of the teeth, surrounding gums and jaws.
Once a plan is arrived at, the trays are fabricated to make sequential movements through multiple trays with each tray designed to make specific tooth movements. With each tray, specific teeth are reset into a new position and the tray is fabricated. Over the course of wearing the tray 7-10 days the teeth are gently guided into the desired next step. The trays must be worn 21-22 hours per day to be effective. It’s not like if you wear them less than the desired time the teeth still move but at a slower pace, they don’t move at all! So effectively, the only time they aren’t worn is for eating, drinking and oral hygiene,
The trays are made of a pliable polymer which gently flexes to put pressure on the teeth to be moved. Sometimes this is not enough to effectively move a tooth, so small tooth colored attachments are added to the outside of a tooth to enhance the desired movement. The total number of aligners needed depends on the complexity of the movement.
Advantages of clear aligners include:
- Unless someone is directly in front of you, they are not noticeable.
- Some people worry about it affecting their speech, maybe for the first few days while you get use to them but not long term.
- You can remove them to eat, drink, brush and floss.
- Less chance of developing gingivitis.
- If you have an event where you don’t want to wear them, then don’t! Just add an extra day to that tray cycle.
- Aligners are not the correct solution for every type of crooked teeth. Having an experienced Orthodontist will help you choose the best solution for your unique situation.
- You can’t drink anything but water with the trays in so if you are an all morning “coffee sipper” they won’t work. The teeth will get stained and if there is sugar in the drink then cavities can develop.
- The above mentioned attachments can be esthetically unpleasing to some people. For most they’re not.
Clear aligners can be used to treat teens as well as adults. In fact, the oral hygiene is much better in teen clear aligners than braces. As long as the teen doesn’t try to drink beverages containing sugar, such as soda, fruit juices and sports drinks with their trays in, then the oral hygiene is never a problem with clear aligners which is a plus.
Braces versus clear aligners is a choice which you should not make alone. We are here to help you at the orthodontic office of Dr. Michael Sebastian.