Clear aligners have become a popular orthodontic treatment option for those looking to straighten their teeth without the hassle of traditional metal braces. As the name suggests, clear aligners are transparent plastic trays that fit over your teeth, gradually shifting them into place.
Table of contents
1. How do clear aligners work?
2. Who qualifies to wear clear aligners?
3. How long does the treatment last?
4. How long can you remove your clear aligners?
5. How do I clean my clear aligners?
6. Do you need to attend in-person appointments?
7. What happens when I complete my treatment?
8. An effective choice
If you're considering clear aligners, you likely have a few questions about how they work, who can wear them, how long treatment lasts, and more. Let’s address some of the most common questions about clear aligners.
How do clear aligners work?
Clear aligners work by applying a constant, gentle force to your teeth, gradually shifting them into their correct positions. Each aligner tray is custom-made to fit your teeth and is designed to move specific teeth at specific times. You'll wear each set of aligners for about ten days, and then switch to a new set that will continue to move your teeth.
Clear aligners are made using 3D printing technology, which allows for a high level of precision and customization. For at-home clear aligners treatment, you will begin the process by ordering an impression kit and taking your dental impressions at home. You will then mail your teeth moulds. A treatment plan will be customized and sent to you for approval. This 3D digital model will be used to design a series of aligner trays that will gradually move your teeth into place.
Who qualifies to wear clear aligners?
Clear aligners are a great option for many people, but not everyone is a good candidate for this treatment. Clear aligners work best for mild to moderate misalignment issues, such as crowding, gapped teeth, overbites, underbites, and crossbites. In case of more severe orthodontic issues, you might have to go for other orthodontic treatments in addition to clear aligners.
Patients must adhere to clear aligners’ requirements. You'll need to wear your clear aligners for at least 22 hours a day, only removing them to eat, brush, and floss. If you're someone who frequently forgets to wear your aligners or has trouble sticking to a schedule, clear aligners may not be the best option for you.
How long does the treatment last?
The length of your clear aligner treatment will depend on the severity of your misalignment issue and how well you follow the treatment plan. On average, treatment with clear aligners takes about 4 to 6 months, but in some cases, it may take longer. The customised treatment plan you receive outlines how long your treatment will likely take.
How long can you remove your clear aligners at a time?
While clear aligners are designed to be worn for almost 22 hours a day, you can remove them when eating, brushing, and flossing. However, it's important to remember that the longer you wear your aligners, the faster your treatment will progress. If you consistently remove your aligners for extended periods, you may need to wear them longer than originally planned.
That being said, it's important to take good care of your aligners and not wear them while eating or drinking anything other than water. This can cause staining or damage to the aligners, which can impact their effectiveness and lead to the need for replacement trays.
How do I clean my clear aligners?
To keep your clear aligners clean and free from bacteria, it's important to clean them regularly. You can clean your aligners using a gentle soap or special aligner cleaning solution, and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Be sure to rinse your aligners thoroughly with lukewarm water after cleaning to remove any residue.
Avoid using hot water or toothpaste to clean your aligners, as these can damage the plastic and impact its effectiveness. In addition, be sure to store your aligners in their case when not in use to prevent loss or damage.
Do you need to attend in-person appointments?
While in-person appointments with your orthodontist are important in case of in-office clear aligners treatment to monitor your progress and ensure that your treatment is on track, at-home clear aligners providers offer virtual check-in. During these, you'll be able to communicate with your orthodontist via chat or calls to discuss any concerns or questions you may have.
Virtual check-ins can be especially helpful for those with busy schedules or who live far away from their orthodontist's office. However, it's important to remember that sharing your progress throughout your treatment is still necessary to ensure that everything is going as planned.
What happens when I complete my treatment?
Once you've completed your clear aligner treatment, you will need to wear retainers to prevent your teeth from shifting back to their original positions. You will need to wear your retainers for 22 hours for the first six months and continue to wear them solely through the night for the next six months.
In addition, you'll also need to continue to practice good oral hygiene habits to maintain the health of your teeth and gums. This entails flossing every day, brushing your teeth twice a day, and frequently going to the dentist for checkups.
An effective choice
Clear aligners are a great option for those looking to straighten their teeth without the hassle of traditional metal braces. If you're considering clear aligners, it's important to follow the proper instructions and practise good oral hygiene habits to achieve a beautiful, healthy smile.
How do clear aligners differ from traditional metal braces?
Clear aligners offer a more discreet and comfortable option compared to traditional metal braces. They are made of clear, transparent plastic that is barely noticeable when worn and do not use wires or brackets that can cause discomfort or irritation. Additionally, clear aligners are removable, which makes it easier to brush and floss your teeth properly.
Will clear aligners affect my speech?
Clear aligners may initially affect your speech for a few days until you get used to wearing them. Some people may experience a slight lisp or difficulty pronouncing certain words, but this usually resolves on its own as you wear the aligners more often. Speaking slowly and practising pronunciation exercises can help you adjust to clear aligners more quickly.
Can I eat anything I want while wearing clear aligners?
You should remove your clear aligners while eating and drinking anything other than water to avoid damaging them or causing staining. It's important to maintain a healthy diet and avoid hard, sticky, or chewy foods that can damage or dislodge the aligners. You can brush your teeth and clean your aligners before putting them back on after eating.