The most recent innovation in the world of orthodontics is the virtually invisible clear aligners. These plastic trays straighten teeth with nary a bracket nor ligature to be found. Although braces need these devices to move teeth, clear aligners are able to achieve straight smiles through tight-fitting, custom-made mouthpieces that slip over the teeth. Every two weeks, the aligners are switched out for a new personalized set that gradually adjusts the teeth further into a corrected position. This cycle repeats until the teeth are completely straight.
Removable and nearly invisible
Once a clear aligners dentist decides how to move forward with correcting the bite, they will go through all options to move the teeth into the right position. When rubber bands are needed to move the jaw forward or backward, clear aligners are usually out of the picture.
Aligners have increased in popularity over the past few years due to their ability to move teeth without the need for bulky braces. These practically invisible orthodontic appliances fit seamlessly into the lifestyle of anyone who wants a straighter smile and to feel confident throughout treatment. Advancements have made the aligners themselves more durable, effective and less expensive.
Each patient deserves the best possible orthodontic treatment, and sometimes clear aligners are not a part of that journey. Read on to find out if clear aligners are right for you.
Benefits of clear aligners
There are various reasons to choose clear aligners. For starters, the plastic trays are completely customized to fit your needs and removable all throughout treatment.
One major complaint with traditional braces is the appearance. It is hard to escape the feeling of insecurity when smiling or talking when there are bulky brackets and wires on the teeth. Clear aligners give an individual control over their treatment and make sure people look great doing it. As an added bonus, aligners do not show in photos.
Since clear aligners are barely noticeable (if at all), they present a great opportunity for someone who does not want to compromise on their lifestyle while receiving orthodontic treatment. Braces require the wearer to give up certain freedoms, like eating certain foods and abstaining from specific activities like chewing gum.
With clear aligners, the patient has complete control over their treatment. The aligners should be worn 22 hours each day, only to be removed when eating, drinking and brushing teeth. However, if you find yourself needing to remove them for an event, you are free to do so. Keep in mind that taking the trays out for longer than two hours each day may set treatment time back.
Because aligners are completely removable, they can be taken out for events if needed. Teeth will not be hindered from functioning correctly when trays are taken out while eating. This also means aligners are easier to clean in contrast to braces, where food can easily get stuck. Braces require the use of specialized tools to clean, such as floss threaders. With clear aligners, the teeth are brushed normally, and the tray can be washed when taken out.
Healthier for teeth
Braces can leave teeth looking worn and feeling unhealthy after removal of the appliance. The brackets can erode tooth enamel and even cause a higher occurrence of cavities. White spots are another common problem reported with traditional braces. On the other hand, since aligners are placed over the teeth and not directly attached to teeth, no glue is used and the teeth are put under less strain.
Clear aligners are not for everyone. What may seem like a benefit to most may disrupt the lives of some. Looking past lifestyle considerations, the bites of some clients just might not be right for aligners.
Although removability might be a selling point for most, this quality can also be seen as a disadvantage. For example, patients can forget to wear aligners easily, prolonging treatment times. Some see having to remove the aligners as a nuisance. Many patients want to leave their treatment completely in the hands of the clear aligners dentist.
Like braces, many aligners clients tend to feel discomfort when changing to a new set of trays. Similar to an adjustment with braces, the teeth will feel pressure between each set of aligners. However, keep in mind this sensation does diminish after one gets used to wearing their aligners.
Longer treatment times
For moderate cases, meaning there are more than a few teeth needing more than a small nudge, it may take longer to achieve a straight smile with clear aligners.
Unable to treat severe cases
Clear aligners are not recommended for severe misalignments. If the teeth need a severe correction, braces are usually the better choice. However, your clear aligners dentist will take into consideration all factors. If the patient is willing to agree to longer treatment times and a higher cost, the dentist can usually work with them on personalizing treatment.
Aligners cost slightly more than traditional braces. Remember, those who choose aligners are doing so because they desire a more personalized, less invasive orthodontic experience. The materials and process are a bit more involved in creating each tray, so naturally, aligners are more expensive than braces. For minor adjustments, however, they tend to cost the same as braces, if not less.
Am I a candidate?
Clear aligners work best on adult and teen patients over the age of 16. After age 16, the teeth and jaw have stopped developing for the most part. Younger patients under that age will usually need metal or clear braces to straighten teeth.
Minor to moderate crowding and spacing issues are candidates for clear aligners. Braces work better for severe cases of misalignment, while invisible aligners work best with those who need mild to moderate adjustments to the smile. Severe overbites, underbites and crossbites will not benefit as much from aligners. Braces can offer a more drastic change.
Aligners are a great option for adults and teens who want the comfort and confidence aligners can provide. Call our office today for more information!
At Laura Torrado DDS, FAGD, we are pleased to provide patients throughout New York with a more convenient way to straighten their teeth. To find out if clear aligners are right for you, call 212-548-3263.