Since clear aligners are made of plastic, there’s a common misconception that they don’t work in straightening teeth. Many people are familiar with the traditional metal brackets and wires and may be confused about this orthodontic alternative. Also known as invisible braces, clear aligners can accomplish most of the same results as traditional braces. Here’s how they work:
Clear aligners are orthodontic devices designed to realign teeth. The process usually starts with your orthodontist getting an impression of your dentition (the type, number, and arrangement of teeth). The orthodontist will use a three-dimensional (3D) intraoral dental scanner. After this, your orthodontist will use the scans to outline the desired positioning of your teeth. Then he or she will determine the incremental stages through which your teeth will move from their current positions to the ideal dentition. To make each stage’s unique aligner, your orthodontist will produce molds through a process known as thermoforming. This may involve 3D printing.
Moving your teeth is a rather complicated process requiring several different clear aligners. You will need to switch them as your treatment progresses. On average, the total number of incremental aligner trays ranges between six and 10. Like traditional braces, your custom-built aligners gradually move your teeth to the desired positions. The unique clear aligners will straighten your teeth by applying the right amount of force to rotate them into proper dentition. Usually, aligners are changed out every couple of weeks. When all of them have been used, the straightening process is complete. Your teeth will only move when force is applied consistently. So, you have to commit to wearing your aligners at least 20 hours a day. Otherwise, you might have to extend your treatment.
Most orthodontists require their patients to wear retainers once their clear aligners are no longer needed. A retainer is a type of orthodontic device that keeps teeth in their ideal positions following a straightening treatment. A retainer is almost always necessary because your teeth have taken on a new alignment. The adjustments have occurred in a visible manner and underneath your jawbone, where the roots exist. Your teeth have to adapt to their new positions. The same goes for the support structures such as gum tissues and underlying bone. Without a retainer, your teeth may start to shift back to their original positions.
Do your crooked or misaligned teeth keep you from flashing that vibrant smile you so desire? At Tulane Family Dentistry, we can discuss all available orthodontic treatments and help you choose the best one for your needs.
Learn more about straightening teeth with clear aligners, contact Tulane Family Dentistry in New Orleans, LA, at (504) 226-5740 for an appointment.