What are clear aligners and how do they work?

what are clear aligners

What are clear aligners and how do they work?

  • Published Date: 06 Jun 2022
  • Updated Date: 06 Jun 2022
  • Reading Time: 7 min

Are you inspired by your favourite celebrity or your next-door neighbour’s perfect straight-toothed smile? Don’t feel comfortable with the person smiling back at you, every time you look into the mirror?

Are you not happy with your crooked or misaligned teeth? Don’t worry, you have got tons of ways to improve that smile of yours, and that is, without changing anything about your naturally sculpted face.

In case you are not comfortable with traditional metal braces, clear aligners might present you with a comfortable solution where teeth straightening is concerned.

What are clear aligners?

Known as a wonderful modern-day alternative to traditional braces, clear aligners have proven to be great facilitators for people who do not want to undergo the long and painful process of seeing a dentist and getting metal wires and brackets fixed to their teeth.

Clear aligners rose to prominence because of their flexible and expedient nature of being invisible and removable.

Unlike traditional metal braces which have brackets fixed to the teeth and metal wires connected to them by small rubber bands, clear aligners are invisible and removable trays that can be taken off and put back on according to the patient’s will.

However, they have taken upon a similar role as the traditional metal braces.

Needing clear aligners

Clear aligners are recommended in case of crowding or misalignment of teeth. In case you have teeth malocclusion and want your protruding teeth to go away painlessly, clear aligners might be the answer for you.

Clear aligners are also used to treat crooked teeth. The aligner trays will be customized for every individual patient. Following are the cases in which clear aligners can come in handy;

  • When the upper teeth overlap with the lower teeth.
  • In case of unusual gaps between your teeth
  • When the lower teeth overlap with the upper teeth.
  • When the teeth are crowded
  • When the teeth slant outwards and do not meet at all.

These cases can be dangerous for your overall health. In case you have teeth misalignment, our advice would be to consult your orthodontist, who might present a magical solution to your malocclusion problem.

What makes clear aligners different from braces?

Traditional metal braces have known to be the oldest and the most effective teeth straightening method. Braces are attached to your teeth while clear aligners are removable.

Braces have metal brackets attached to your teeth, connected by a metal wire. Aligners, on the other hand, are created with medical-grade BPA-free plastic. Clear aligners are costlier than traditional metal braces and take less time to perfectly align your teeth.

Braces can be seen whenever you open your mouth. They are just there, fixed to your teeth with a promise of not leaving your side even for a second. Aligners, because of their invisible nature, are barely noticeable.

Aligners can only treat some cases of malocclusion, but braces can take care of every teeth misalignment issue, even the severe ones. Moreover, the flexible nature of aligners allows you to remove them whenever you feel like taking them off.

It is difficult to clean braces as you cannot take them off. Clear Aligners can be cleaned upon being removed and placed in a denture, filled with lukewarm or hot water.

How do clear aligners work?

In your growing years, as teenagers, you might have either wished to improve your smile or simply align your teeth to look better but dreaded spending long painful hours in your dentist’s office.

In case you are a grown adult and regret missing your appointments but still want your teeth to look and shine better, it might benefit you to look into the effective use of clear aligners.

Are you someone who cannot bear the pain? Do not be scared of experiencing the enfeeble pain or the loss of not being able to eat your desired food.

Clear aligners might only cause a slight irritation; however, their flexible nature allows you to remove them whenever you want to eat anything of your choice.

Following is a guide to the steps you would need to undertake to get aligners;

Getting clear aligners

The utmost and the most important step is for you to visit a reliable orthodontist. The consultation visit will be followed by a thorough examination of your teeth by the orthodontist and a digital scan of your mouth.

The digital scan is an essential way of deciding which plan is best suitable for you. This visit is extremely helpful in specifying the custom treatment plan for the clear aligners. This visit is only necessary most of the time in case you are opting for in-office aligners.

For at-home aligners, you can get a treatment plan while sitting at home. You do not have to make regular, lengthy visits to the doctor’s office, but simply mail the mould of your teeth to your orthodontist, and a custom plan will be suggested for you.

However, this decision should be made considering the severity of your malocclusion. Initially, a digital preview will be created, displaying your new smile. In case you happen to love it, the next step will be the preparation of your clear aligners.

Preparation of the clear aligner trays

This is where the process begins. The digital preview is followed by the preparation of the custom plan. However, the aligners would not be created right away. First of all, digital models need to be made from the scans sent by your orthodontist and approved for the treatment to be further processed.

In case the 3D models are approved, they are sent to the laboratory for the production of your custom-made clear aligners. This begins your treatment and gets you one step closer to your new beautiful smile.

During the treatment

Wondered what will happen after you finally get your clear aligner trays and start putting them on your teeth? The treatment overall can last between 4 to 12 months.

Within this period, the aligners will gradually do their work and move the teeth in the right position. It is highly advised to wear the aligners for about 22 hours a day in case you need effective and immediate results.

For the correct range of movement of your teeth, multiple aligners are used that will be included in your aligners kit. So, you need to get the aligner trays changed after the provided period for your teeth to be fixed in a better way.

After the treatment ends

The treatment does surely end here; however, a few precautions still need to be taken. To make sure that malocclusion is completely cured and does not recur, clear retainers are made and instructed to be worn every night while sleeping.

Unlike clear aligners which help to move the teeth to the right position, clear retainers simply keep your teeth straight and make sure that they refrain from facing misalignment again. These clear retainers are also custom-made to guard your newly aligned teeth.

Clear aligners vs clear braces

Clear braces are similar to the traditional metal braces in terms of structure and use with only the brackets being different from the metal ones. The brackets are made of clear ceramics and have clear wires.

Clear aligners tend to be invisible which makes them a far cry from the metal brackets and wires attached to your teeth. Moreover, these aligners are removable which can be a great relief especially when you want to eat something or effectively clean your teeth.

Benefits obtained by clear aligners

These are invisible which means that in case you shy away from wearing those traditional braces with brackets attached to the teeth and a metal wire passing through them, aligners can be the best choice for you. People will not even notice you wearing those aligners.

Another beneficial thing is their flexible nature. They are easily removable which helps you to eat the food of your choice without it getting stuck anywhere in your aligners. With aligners, you can effectively brush or floss.

All you need to do is simply take them out. Clear aligners have proven to be a convenient alternative to traditional metal braces. Aligners have been efficient in treating malocclusion (a condition in which teeth are misaligned, resulting in improper overbite or underbite).

The severity of teeth misalignment specifies which kind of alignment trays would be best suitable for you.

In-office aligners can treat misalignment cases like crowded teeth, overbites, underbites, a diastema, and open bites. All of the following are the causes of teeth overlapping. They can also be used in the treatment of children for developing permanent teeth.

For at-home clear aligners, you do not ever have to leave your home and face the fear of being inside a doctor’s office. You can simply send in the mould of your teeth and easily get the aligners delivered to your home.

Upkeep and preservation of clear aligners

In case you are now inspired by the wonders “clear aligners” are capable of, and have been considering getting those, here is what you need to know to keep your aligners clean.

You should remove your clear aligners before you are going to eat something. Regular brushing before putting them on will prevent food stuck in the teeth from affecting the aligners too.
Soak them in a denture container and when it is time to wash them, do it with lukewarm water instead of a hot one, as it can be damaging to the plastic.

Do not ever use toothpaste to clean them though you can clean your aligners with the help of soap. Later, rinse with either cold or mildly hot water.

You would not have to put a lot of effort into maintaining aligners as they can easily be removed whenever you wish to eat something or clean your teeth.

Cost of clear aligners

Different brands offer different prices for aligners. Some brands are more expensive than others. In-office aligners are pricier than at-home aligners.

People can easily get the latter which will cost them way less and can be ordered from and delivered to the comfort of their home.

Aligners’ prices differ from the prices of braces. In New Zealand, braces cost around $4500 to $7000. Some good quality braces can range from $9700-$10,000.

SmilePath clear aligners cost up to $2049 in a full-time plan and $300 /month in their easy instalment plan. Other brands may cost up to $3000 or $8500.

Ready to get your hands on clear aligners?

Are you scared to smile in the public? What are you waiting for then? Want to improve your smile and get a lustrous one? All you need is to get your hands on clear aligners that present several benefits as discussed above.

They are less painful and offer a ton of comfort. The trays are invisible and unnoticeable. So, there goes your fear of looking ugly among the people around you. They are removable which gives you a chance to eat anything without the fear of food getting stuck in them.

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