I keep seeing ads for Invisalign and other clear aligner companies. What are aligners? How do they work? Are aligners the right option for me? Dr. Wes Chladny of Spring Hill’s Dr. Wes Orthodontics shares his answers. Here’s what he has to say.
Orthodontic Treatment with Clear Aligners
Q: “What are clear aligners? How do they work? Are clear aligners the right option for me?”
Dr. Wes says:
Clear aligners, sometimes called clear braces, are a hot topic right now and you’ve done others a favor by asking your question. Aligners are simply a less visible and removable alternative to braces. They are made of plastic which has been formed to a patient’s teeth in a series of stages. Each aligner stage has corrections applied that progressively straighten the teeth over time. Aligners may not be an appropriate option for everyone wishing to improve his/her smile, but they are a great option for many. The best way to know if aligners are an option for you is to schedule a complimentary consultation with an orthodontist.
Aligners have been used for quite a while to move teeth, but their more recent popularity can be attributed to improving technologies which have made the products better, the emergence of more aligner companies in the market and the significant investment those companies have made in advertising. Invisalign® is the most well-known brand of clear aligners currently on the market. Traditionally, orthodontists and some dentists have been the professional providers of clear aligner treatment for patients. More recently, some companies have offered direct-to-consumer aligner options that advertise lower cost and eliminating or reducing the need for direct supervision by a dental professional as benefits.
Based on my experience in private practice, here are the most important details I believe prospective patients should know about clear aligner therapy:
Other than finding an experienced provider who understands how aligners move teeth, the most important factor in successful aligner therapy is PATIENT COOPERATION. I recommend that my patients wear their aligners for 20-22 hours per day, only removing them to eat, drink liquids other than water and to brush. Consistent and continual wear has been shown to work the best. Your provider will recommend how many days you should wear each aligner before changing to the next, but I typically recommend 1 or 2 weeks depending on the product being used.
Aligner treatment often involves the placement of tooth-colored attachments on select teeth to provide an additional surface(s) for the plastic aligner to hold onto as it works. When indicated, attachments have been shown to help teeth move better. Attachments can come in a variety of shapes, are barely visible and are usually bonded to the teeth at the beginning of treatment and removed at the end of treatment. Many tooth movements can be difficult or unpredictable without the use of attachments.
Brushing and flossing are easier for patients wearing aligners as compared to braces. Proper oral hygiene is equally important for all patients regardless of the appliance being used, but braces and wires attached to the teeth create challenges that removable aligners do not.
Avoid minimizing the importance of in-office supervision by an expert to the success of aligner treatment. I have met with numerous people in my practice who wish they had heard or followed that advice prior to previously starting aligner treatment elsewhere.
Avoid making assumptions about the cost of aligner treatment when comparing professional providers, such as orthodontists and dentists, and direct-to-consumer aligner companies until you get the facts. As an example, in my private practice, in addition to offering Invisalign, I offer an aligner option that I produce completely in-house(Dr. Wes Aligners). By utilizing digital impressions, outcome simulation and aligner staging software, 3D printing and aligner fabrication, all done within my office, I am able to eliminate the substantial fees charged by aligner manufacturing companies and provide a cost-effective alternative to some of my patients based on the severity of the misalignment.
If you are considering improving your smile with clear aligners, either through your dentist or from a direct-to-consumer company, I would strongly recommend that you schedule a complimentary, no-commitment consultation with an orthodontist before making a decision. Orthodontists are experts at straightening teeth and fixing bites and can offer valuable advice about treatment products and options before patients make a potentially irreversible decision.
Schedule a Free Consultation Today
Dr. Wes Orthodontics is currently offering a special promotion for new patients. Call (615) 282-5038 for more information. As always, initial consultations are complimentary. For more info visit https://www.drwesortho.com/complimentary-consulation.
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