Did you know that, according to a survey, the most attractive quality in a person is his smile? Countless studies have shown that people with a beautiful smile are more likeable and considered competent. Despite these benefits, many people would rather have crooked teeth than go in for braces. While no one thinks twice about seeing a child or teenager in braces, adults feel self-conscious about the idea of wearing conspicuous metal braces around their friends, family, and coworkers. Fortunately, in the last 20 years there have been newer, improved alternatives to the traditional braces, which are considered, simple, hassle free and more suited for adults. Clear Aligners are one such alternative which have become a popular method to achieve a healthy, beautiful smile.
How Do They Work?
Clear Aligners, like traditional braces, work on the same principles. They apply low, controlled pressure on certain areas of the teeth, in order to move them to the desired position. They have the added advantage of being, clear and removable.
How to get started?
If you are ready to start, the first step is to contact your orthodontist and make an initial appointment. They will assess your smile, go over your medical and dental history and evaluate whether you are a good candidate for clear aligners. They will then take your diagnostic records like x-rays, photographs, impressions or digital scans. From that information, the orthodontist can arrive at a diagnosis, and then work within the aligner software to design your smile and plan the treatment process – which tooth moves where, and in what order – guiding teeth into healthy positions. The end goal is a healthy bite, along with a beautiful smile. Moving teeth is a complex biological process and needs start-to-finish supervision by an orthodontist. With the end goal in mind, a series of plastic aligners are created using the patient’s initial impressions or digital scans as the starting point. The aligners are plastic replicas of your teeth. Wearing them puts gentle pressure on the teeth, slightly repositioning them.
Reasons to go for aligner treatment
Your Teeth Need Alignment, but You Can’t Get Traditional Braces
Some individuals cannot get metal braces due to gum or cheek sensitivity that worsens with the irritation of metal brackets. Clear aligners can eliminate that risk while still providing a simple, smooth method of straightening teeth.
Your Career Requires a Professional Look
With clear aligners you can get your perfect smile without the awkwardness of traditional braces especially when you are in a professional environment.
You Experience Pain and Discomfort
When you have misaligned teeth, you can cause pressure in areas of your mouth and jaw resulting in pain. Jaw pain can radiate up your face and cause headaches. The alignment of your bite is crucial to your overall health. Aligners provide a comfortable option to address your health concerns.
How to care for your aligners
- You must wear the aligners for 18-22 hrs a day. Continuous 4 hours of aligner wear is important to ensure optimum treatment results.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling your aligners and handle only ONE aligner at a time.
- Make sure you have the proper aligner—the upper for your top teeth and the lower for your bottom teeth. To help avoid confusion, each aligner is engraved with your unique case number, a “U” for upper and an “L” for lower, followed by the stage number.
- Aligner Insertion- When inserting each aligner, gently push the aligners over your front teeth. Then apply equal pressure, using your fingertips, to the tops of your left and right molars (back teeth) until the aligner snaps into place.
- Do NOT bite your aligners into position. This may damage them. Note: If you experience sharp pain or significant discomfort, discontinue use of the aligners and contact your doctor.
- Aligner Removal- On one side of your mouth, use your fingertip on the inside of your back molar to slowly pull the aligner from your molars. Repeat this process on the other side of your mouth before trying to completely remove the aligner.
- Immediately rinse aligner with water, shake off excess water, and store your aligners in the protective case provided with your starter kit.
- Clean your aligners prior to each insertion. Use a soft bristle toothbrush with water and a small amount of toothpaste.
- For Invisalign Aligners- the Invisalign Aligner Cleaning System (www.invisalignstore.com) uses special cleaning crystals to remove plaque from your Invisalign aligners in about 15 minutes, keeping your aligners odor-free, hygienic, and clear.
- Remove your aligners while eating and drinking. (You do not need to remove your aligners to drink cool water.)
Pros and Cons of Aligners
Besides being invisible, that aligners are removable gives them an added advantage. Take them out to eat, to brush and floss, or for short periods for work or social situations.
As with any orthodontic treatment, aligners are not suitable for all kinds of problems. Traditional braces may be required for certain correction.
Tooth-colored attachments will be placed on the teeth to help the aligners move the teeth. These attachments are removed once treatment is complete.
Care needs to be taken regarding drinks when aligners are in the mouth. Liquid can seep into the aligners, and stay in contact with the teeth, which can lead to staining of the aligner and the teeth. If the liquid contains sugar and/or acid, cavities can develop. So avoid drinking aerated drinks along with flavored water, fruit drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks, with the retainer on.
Because aligners are removable, patients might be tempted to remove them if they experience some discomfort. Aligners can’t work unless they are in the mouth! They can be lost or misplaced when out of the mouth. Make it a habit to slip aligners into their case when they come out of the mouth. Do not place aligners in napkins, in a pocket or a purse.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q: Will the treatment be painful?
A: Most people experience tooth soreness for a few days after starting each new stage. This is normal. It is a sign that the Invisalign aligners are working, moving your teeth to their final destination. This soreness should gradually go away a couple of days after inserting the new aligner in the series. If it doesn’t, promptly call your doctor.
Q: Will wearing the Invisalign aligners affect my speech?
A: Like all orthodontic treatments, the aligners may temporarily affect your speech, and you may have a slight lisp for a day or two. However, as your tongue gets used to having aligners in your mouth, any lisp or minor speech impediment caused by your aligners should disappear.
Q: Are there restrictions on what I can eat?
A: In general, no. Unlike traditional orthodontics, you can usually eat and drink whatever you desire because you remove your aligners while eating. Thus, there is no need to restrict your consumption of any of your favorite foods and snacks, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.
Q: Is it OK to drink hot or cold beverages while wearing Invisalign aligners?
A: Except for cool water, we recommend that you do not drink while wearing the aligners. This is to avoid formation of cavities and stains, or warping of the aligners with hot drinks and hot water.
Clear Aligners are a safe, comfortable alternative to traditional braces, but as with any orthodontic treatment it should be handled by the right professional who understands your needs and helps you deliver the perfect smile.
Blog Written by
Dr Abhilasha Rajendran, Orthodontist
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