What are Clear Aligners?
Clear aligners is a method of straightening crooked teeth without using traditional braces. It utilises custom made sheets of thin plastic which fit over the teeth like a mouthguard rather than metal brackets and wires to apply a controlled force on teeth which are out of position to push them back into proper alignment slowly over time. Each aligner is made to move the teeth incrementally back into position and is worn for about 2 weeks before changing to subsequent aligners until the teeth reach their planned final position. Of the many types available in the market, the best known is Invisalign®.
What Is Invisalign®?
Invisalign® is one of the most established types of clear aligners and uses 3D computer imaging technology to make a series of clear and almost invisible aligners which can be removed when you have dinner or special occasions. They are comfortable to wear as they fit over your teeth while they gently align and guide to guide and move them into the ideal position. Invisalign® is ideal for working adults as it does not disrupt your work or social life. It can also be used for children to influence jaw growth (Invisalign® First), and also for teenagers who need braces.
Your dentist will examine your teeth, gums, facial proportions and profile to determine if you are suitable for Invisalign®. X-rays and a preliminary mould will be made to allow assessment and a customised plan for you using the special Invisalign® software. The X-Ray examination is important as it allows the dentist to check if you have any buried or extra teeth that might interfere with the treatment. A second X-Ray will show your side-view profile to ensure that your teeth can support your lips in a more ideal position,
Once you have decided to start on Invisalign®, a final physical mould of your teeth and/or a digital scan will be taken and sent to the dedicated Invisalign® laboratory to make a series of clear aligners that will gradually move your teeth to the desired position. As these aligners are custom-designed and made using computer technology, they fit precisely. You will receive your first set of retainers within 3 weeks. Your dentist may sometimes need to slenderize the sides of your teeth to create more space for the required tooth movement.
How long Does It Take:
Each set of aligners come with instructions for its use. You should try to wear the aligners for as many hours in a day, removing them only during meals, when cleaning your teeth or for special occasions. In general, you will be asked to change to a new aligner every two weeks as your teeth gradually move into position. The treatment usually takes between one to two years as it takes time to gently guide your crooked teeth into alignment. You will need to return to the clinic every 3 months for a check-up.
While the use of clear aligners is now very popular, there are limitations and the use of conventional metal or ceramic braces is still required for more complex problems. While some patients dislike the appearance of these “fixed metallic” braces, they are in some instances more effective. Fixed braces are also suitable for patients who may not have the discipline to wear removable braces for an extended period of time. Patients concerned with the appearance can opt to have brackets attached on the sides of the teeth nearer the tongue though these are less comfortable.
Age Limit for Braces
Age is not a barrier for braces and crooked teeth can still be corrected in the elderly. Many adults who desire well-aligned teeth prefer to use clear aligners as it allows them to go about their daily activities without feeling conscious about wearing fixed braces. It should be noted that our lower teeth tend to get out of alignment in our mid-thirties. Besides the crooked appearance, it also tends to make teeth cleaning more difficult and lead to gum disease. The use of clear aligners for a few months can easily correct the minor crowding and keep tooth movement in check.