What Are Clear Aligners and How Do They Work?

How clear aligners work

Clear aligners are the preferred braces alternative for adults who want straighter teeth  without compromising on the esthetics. These transparent, removable orthodontic systems also work for the
teens, who are committed to wearing them as prescribed. Depending on the clear aligner brand you choose and the current alignment of your teeth, you can usually enjoy a straighter smile in generally about a year (6 to 24 months, depending on your teeth.)

The Science Behind Clear Aligners

Invisible braces options like clear aligners are digitally planned out from the beginning. In most cases, you have a 3Dscan or mould taken of your teeth, which the treatment planning software uses to plan your treatmentand print your aligners. This approach is different than conventional braces, which use manually placed brackets and wires to physically push and pull your teeth from one direction/point of contact. Clear aligners hug your tooth from every angle, moving them more gently and systematically. The 3D model of your mouth is adjusted at specific intervals, with new clear aligners printed for every phase of tooth movement.

How Are Clear Aligners Different From Braces?

The technology behind clear braces has been successfully used on patients worldwide for over 20 years. It’s just one of the many reasons why more adults are enjoying teeth straightening treatments than ever before especially if they didn’t have access to braces growing up.

Compared to fixed orthodontic appliances, clear aligners offer the following advantages:

They’re removable.

You can’t take braces off of your teeth, but you can remove clear aligners whenever you want. There are no dietary restrictions since your trays are removable; eat whatever you like. Plus, home care is a breeze since you can brush and floss normally.

Clear aligners are practically invisible.

Every clear aligner is printed from translucent, rigid, BPA-free plastic material. When cleaned properly, they are nearly invisible over your teeth. Continue to brush and floss each day and rinse your aligners regularly to prevent buildup or discoloration. And never drink anything other than water while you’re wearing them.

The design is more comfortable to wear.

Orthodontic aligners are contoured to the shape of your teeth. There are no irritating metal wires or brackets poking the inside of your lips or cheeks. Each tray closely hugs your smile for a better fit?? (“closely hugs” doesn’t make sense, “hugs smile” doesn’t make sense. Also, there are no ‘adjustments’ required to tighten the wires or change the bands, making clear aligners far more comfortable to wear on a day-to-day basis.

Aligners are more discreet.

Clear aligners are practically invisible over your teeth. Most people will only be able to see them if they’re looking at your mouth very closely when you’re purposely showing them your teeth. Wearing clear aligners allows you to go ‘under the radar’ when it comes to orthodontic treatment as an adult. If you’re a busy professional or don’t like the idea of others seeing you in hefty braces, clear aligners are the perfect choice!

Your appointments are shorter and less frequent.

Your clear aligners are sent home with you in advance, so you progress your tooth movement on your own time. This means you won’t need to stop by a dentist or orthodontist’s office every time you exchange your aligners with the next pair. Save valuable time without missing work or family obligations. Some clear aligner appointments are completely virtual, so you never have to step foot in a dentist’s office.

Choosing a Clear Aligners System

There are several popular and proven clear aligner brands in the market. Each one has its own advantages. Some are designed for minor tooth movement, while others are better for more complex bite needs. Depending on your specific smile, certain systems can be mailed directly to your home, whereas others are overseen in person by a licensed orthodontist.

Being able to consider multiple clear aligner systems is one of the best ways to find one that works with your timeframe, budget, and personal schedule. When you’re short on time or busy taking care of the family, clear aligners fit your to-do list.

What to Expect During Clear Aligner Treatment

Each clear aligner treatment is digitally mapped with a special computer software. The virtual treatment plan ‘moves’ each of your teeth to their desired position. But this process must be done very systematically in order for all of the teeth to safely come into alignment. Rushing through the process along too quickly can be harmful for the health of your oral tissues, not to mention the discomfort.

For most smile-seekers, each phase of the tooth movement is broken into two-weeks intervals. Every two weeks, you wear a new pair of aligners which is shaped slightly different than the previous set. The minor changes in their 3D printed shape nudges specific teeth in small increments. As you progress to a new pair of aligners every other week, your smile safely comes into alignment.

Occasionally, some patients need special tooth-coloured attachments called ‘buttons’ that are bonded to specific teeth. But your clear aligners provider will be able to let you know in advance if they are required to improve your smile.

Day-to-Day Life with Clear Aligners

Wearing clear aligners means you can easily remove them before you eat, brush or floss and won’t need to make any major changes to your daily routine or use special devices to clean your teeth.

Always wear your clear aligners as directed. For most systems, the wear time is a minimum of 20-22 hours per day, only removing them for oral care and during meals. Wearing them consistently will ensure the best outcome and prevent any delays in your orthodontic treatment.

Be sure not to eat or drink anything—other than water—when you’re wearing your aligners. If you’re snacking during the day, remove your trays and be sure to rinse your mouth out well or brush your teeth before you put your clear aligners back in your mouth.

After Your Orthodontic Therapy is Complete

Just like traditional orthodontic patients, you’ll need to have a retention plan after your clear aligner therapy is complete. The only difference is that your retainers will look, feel, and fit like a set of clear aligners.

It’s extremely important to wear your retainers as directed. This step will prevent relapse in tooth movement, where teeth tend to shift back towards their previous position. Depending on your situation and the type of retainer you have, you may want to wear it all day for the first several months or only to sleep at night.

Most people keep their retainers for several years, wearing them when they go to sleep for at least a night or two per week.

‘Do I Qualify for Clear Aligners?’

Most people with healthy teeth and gums (no active cavities or gum disease) qualify for clear aligners. If you’re up to date on your dental checkups, that’s usually the first step. Ultimately, you’ll have to talk with a clear aligners provider in person or via virtual consultation.

A Smart Investment in Your Smile

Investing in clear aligners can help you improve your dental health, give you the confidence of having a straighter smile and even lower your risk of TMJ disorder. Get started today to learn more!


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