If you are looking to straighten your teeth, but don’t want a mouth full of metal, you’re in luck! Today’s dental technologies have advanced, and while you can still fix crooked teeth with traditional metal braces, now you can get a straighter smile more discreetly, comfortably, and conveniently with clear aligners.
What are clear aligners and how do they work?
Clear aligners are clear plastic orthodontic devices that straighten crooked teeth. They are made from thermoplastic polymers and are customized to each patient. Many people report that clear aligners are less painful than traditional metal braces because there is no metal rubbing against the inside of your mouth, and you don’t have to have them tightened regularly in an office. Clear aligners are also beneficial for oral health, as you can remove them to do a thorough flossing and brushing twice a day.
With a specific end goal in mind, a series of clear aligner trays are created for you by using putty impressions or 3D digital scans of your teeth. The aligners work in stages by using gentle force to gradually move your teeth into the desired position. Patients typically switch to a new set of aligners every two weeks, and each new set moves your teeth a little bit more to achieve the smile you’re looking for.
How long do clear aligners take to work?
The treatment length depends on the individual patient and their goals. Most patients wear their clear aligners for 12-18 months. Some people with minimal crowding or spacing get the results they want in as few as six months, while patients with more severe crowding might need to wear aligners for up to two years. Essentially, the more your teeth need to move, the longer the treatment will take. Aligners need to be worn for 22 hours per day, so if you wear them less than that, treatment will take longer and won’t be as effective.
Who is a good candidate for clear aligners?
Patients with mild to moderate crowding or spacing usually have the best results with clear aligners. People with more severe crowding, however, have had success using clear aligners for a longer period of time. You are also a good candidate if you had braces before and your teeth have shifted since removal or if you have developed an underbite, overbite, or crossbite. If you are committed to wearing the aligners for 22 hours per day and changing to your new aligners about every two weeks as instructed by your healthcare provider, you will likely have success with clear aligners.
What is the process like?
It is easier than ever to use clear aligners to straighten your teeth. First, schedule an appointment with Lifetime Dental Health to get an evaluation and learn more about the process. At your first appointment, we will ask you some questions about your smile goals and examine your teeth to see if you are a good candidate for clear aligners. If we determine that clear aligners are a good choice for you, we will take impressions of your teeth with dental putty, or digitally scan your mouth to produce a 3D digital model of your teeth. Next, a series of custom aligners will be produced for you. Most patients will get 20 to 24 sets of aligners. When you receive your aligners, you’ll start by wearing the first set for about two weeks for 22 hours per day. You will switch to your next set of aligners about every two weeks. Most dental providers recommend an office visit every six to eight weeks to make sure the aligners are working properly and that your teeth are moving progressively. If you stick to your schedule and wear your aligners as instructed, you can achieve your smile goals! Once you have completed treatment with your clear aligners, it is recommended that you wear a retainer to keep your teeth straight.
What if I am not a good candidate for clear aligners?
If you have severe crowding or gapping, have dental implants or bridges, or active gum disease and poor oral hygiene, clear aligners may not be for you. But don’t worry! You don’t have to give up on the beautiful smile you are dreaming of. There are many other options to get the smile you are looking for, including:
Traditional metal braces – if you have severe spacing or crowding, or a severe bite problem, traditional metal braces might be for you.
Veneers – if your teeth are shaped irregularly, broken or chipped, or discolored or stained, veneers can give you the smile you’re looking for.
Contouring or reshaping – if your teeth are cracked, chipped, overlapping or crooked, an in-office contouring or reshaping procedure can help.
Speak with us to find out which treatment option is best for you. At Lifetime Dental Health, we are proud to offer multiple options to straighten your smile, including our own Clear Aligner Program. We also offer Invisalign and Six Month Smile in addition to a variety of cosmetic dentistry options. Contact us today at (614) 333-9442 to schedule a consultation.