Orthodontic aligner treatment has been potentially one of the greatest innovations in orthodontics over the last 20 years. It has changed the delivery of orthodontics and made treatment more accessible to those in the population who do not wish to wear braces. Aligners are popular due to their appearance and because they can be removed. Aligner treatment has become an extremely popular treatment for adults seeking orthodontics. It can also be used to treat malocclusions in children. Malocclusion is the imperfect positioning of the teeth when the jaws are close, such as an overbite, underbite, open-bite and overcrowding.
There are many different types of aligners on the market, including Invisalign, Spark, Clarity aligners, Angel aligners and Clear Correct aligners to mention a few. Currently, Invisalign is the most well-known aligner brand as they were the first company to create sequential aligners to treat more complex orthodontic issues in adults and children.
How Aligners Work
If it is decided that aligner treatment is appropriate to treat an individual’s malocclusion, the teeth will be scanned to produce a 3D replication of them.
A digital treatment plan will then be placed online for the orthodontist to modify to ensure that the teeth will move as required. Patients can view a digital preview of their new smile before the production of the aligners.
The digital models are transferred to a production facility, and the aligners are fabricated. The number of aligners required is determined by how bad the bite or crowding is.
Tooth movement occurs by changing aligners every 1 to 2 weeks. Every aligner is limited to a small amount of movement to ensure accurate tooth movement takes place. Patients are required to wear aligners for approximately 22 hours per day. They can be taken out for eating, drinking anything other than water and brushing your teeth. The orthodontist will monitor the movement of teeth by checking the fit of the aligners approximately every 8 weeks.
Like all orthodontic treatments, time varies depending on the malocclusion.
Pros and Cons of Aligner Treatment
Some tooth movements/malocclusions are more easily treated with aligners than others. Small tooth coloured attachments are placed on teeth that require more difficult movements to help them achieve the desired movement. For this reason, some malocclusions are still more readily treated with braces rather than sequential aligners. The orthodontist will be able to give you all the information regarding this.
Ensuring the aligners are worn for sufficient time every day is important as the treatment will not work if the aligners are not worn sufficiently. Some aligner systems have an inbuilt compliance indicator which helps the orthodontist monitor aligner wear. Ultimately if aligners are not worn sufficiently, braces might still be needed to complete treatment.
How to Keep Your Aligners Clean
- Always rinse them in water after removal (not hot water as this can warp the plastic);
- Brush and floss your teeth before putting them back in if that is not possible rinse your mouth out with water;
- Clean aligners with mild soap daily (never use toothpaste);
- Soak your aligners in a denture cleaning solution or diluted vinegar.
After treatment is complete, a customized retainer is made to ensure your newly straightened teeth do not move. The types of retainers are either fixed or removable retainers of a combination of the two. When discussing your teeth needs, your ethos orthodontist will consider a variety of factors before suggesting a treatment option. You can be assured that no matter which treatment you choose, you’ll love the results.