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What are Clear Aligners?
Clear aligners serve as an effective alternative to regular braces for teeth straightening. The aligner trays are transparent, removable and custom-designed to be worn over the teeth to move them into their proper position. Clear aligners are effective, but they are not suitable for everyone. Continue reading to find out what clear aligners are and how they work.
How clear aligners work
Like braces, aligners are created to move the teeth a few millimeters at a time, but without wires and brackets. The aligners are custom-made with a strong plastic material that fits over the patient’s mouth. The treatment comprises of a series of aligners to move the teeth in small increments until the teeth are in their proper position.
Before the treatment starts, the dentist will perform physical examinations, which may include taking x-rays, photographs, impressions and digital scans. The dentist will use the information to make a diagnosis and work with the aligner software to plan the treatment process. They will consider which teeth need to move, where and in what order – to get the desired smile. The treatment covers the entire teeth – not just the ones that are in the front row.
The objective is an aligned bite where the upper and lower teeth fit together correctly. Shifting the teeth is a complex biological process that should be supervised by a dentist. The patient will need to visit the dentist for a checkup every six to ten weeks. The dentist will work on creating plastic aligners with the patient’s impressions. The aligners are a synthetic representation of the teeth. Putting them on the teeth applies gentle pressure and gradually moves them.
Dental professionals recommend that patients wear aligners for at least 22 hours daily. Each aligner tray in the series is worn for about two weeks before switching to the next tray. Eventually, the teeth will reach their ideal position, based on the dentist’s plan. The total number of aligners required depends on the needs of the patient. After the treatment, patients will wear retainers to maintain their new positions.
Points to note about aligners
Aside from being transparent, many patients like that the aligners are removable. They can take them off for eating, brushing and flossing and on special occasions.
Aligners are suitable for every orthodontic issue. Sometimes, braces might be a more effective solution. The dentist will make the proper recommendation after diagnosis.
Patients need to be careful about what they drink or eat while wearing aligners. Only water is acceptable. The liquid can get into the aligners and it will remain there until the aligners come off. This can cause the teeth and aligners to stain, and if the liquid contains sugar and acid, cavities can form. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid soda pop, sports drinks, energy drinks, or if possible, the teeth should be cleaned afterward.
Since the aligners are removable, it might be tempting to remove them at will. However, they need to remain on the teeth to work; else, the treatment duration might be extended.
If you are considering clear aligners, book an appointment with your dentist for a consultation. The dentist will perform the necessary diagnosis and let you know if they are right for you.
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