What is the clear aligner process?

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What are clear aligners?

We all want that whiter and brighter smile. After all, you’re smile is the first thing that others notice about you. It’s no surprise that straightening your teeth improves their appearance. Having an even smile makes you look and feel better. Plus, straight teeth are easier to keep clean. Straight teeth trap less plaque and tartar as compared to crooked ones. This means you’re less likely to develop gum disease, cavities and avoid dental infections.

So how can you straightening your smile? Traditionally, braces were your only option. That all changed 20 years ago when clear aligner technology was introduced. Clear aligners are a series of plastic trays which move your teeth without the need to wear brackets or wires. Naturally, patients love clear aligners! They are comfortable, barely visible and can be removed when needed. You can use clear aligners to close gap teeth, straighten crooked teeth, fix overbites and do so much more.

If you’re considering clear aligners, you’re probably wondering about the process of wearing clear aligners. How do clear aligners fix your smile? Lets take a look at the 7 steps involved in fixing your smile with clear aligners:

Step 1: Clear aligner consultation

First and foremost, you need to make sure that you’re a candidate for wearing clear aligners. Difficult orthodontic misalignments, such as crossbite or underbite, do not qualify for clear aligner treatment. The most complicated orthodontic movements always require braces, sometimes in conjunction with tooth extraction or even jaw surgery. To see if you’re a candidate for clear aligner therapy, schedule a consultation with a local orthodontist or dentist who offers teeth aligner treatment near you today.

Step 2: Clearance to begin orthodontic treatment

The next step is to make sure that your teeth and gums are healthy enough to handle aligner therapy. Placing clear aligners on teeth with cavities or gums suffering from gingivitis is dangerous and risky. Starting any type of orthodontic treatment without proper clearance from your dentist can cause irreversible harm to your mouth. Orthodontic clearance involves a thorough exam of your teeth and gum, a dental cleaning and fixing all essential underlying conditions. Once cleared, you’re set to start your aligner treatment right away!

Step 3: Dental records

To begin your clear aligner treatment, your dentist or orthodontist must obtain necessary dental records. The most important dental record for clear aligner therapy are moldings of your upper and lower teeth. These moldings are used to communicate your teeth shape, size and form with the dental laboratory. Teeth moldings are obtained either by taking impressions of your teeth with putty or scanning your teeth using sophisticated intraoral scanners. Additional dental records may include photos of your facial profile, teeth photos, X-rays and your bite relationship. Your dentist or orthodontist will decide which preliminary information is required for each case. Obtaining dental records is easy and quick. It only takes about half-an-hour to an hour to obtain your dental records for clear aligner treatment.

Step 4: Treatment planning your aligner therapy

Once your doctor has obtained all necessary dental records, he or she will send them to the laboratory. The lab technician will scan your dental records, including all impressions, scans, photos, bite, etc. into the computer. They will follow your doctor’s prescription to design a 3D animation of your projected teeth movement. Many factors are taken into consideration to give you the best end results, for instance:

  • What is your primary concern regarding your smile?
  • Which teeth should be moved and which ones should not be moved (dental implants, bridges, etc.)?
  • Are there teeth which are too large and require contouring?
  • Is there any tooth which is rotated that requires additional torquing?
  • Does your midline, canine or molar teeth require correction?

The lab technician will follow your doctor’s prescription to design a projected animation of your teeth movement. They will send this animation to your treating dentist or orthodontist to review. Your doctor will either approve the design or make necessary modifications to it. This process is repeated until your treating doctor is satisfied with your tooth movement projection. It’s important that your treating doctor work closely with the lab technician to ensure the success of your treatment. After all, you only get one set of adult teeth, so messing them up is not an option!

Step 5: Start wearing your clear aligners

Once your doctor has approved your treatment plan, it’s now time to make the actual clear aligners. The lab technician will use 3D print technology to print a series of clear aligners and ship them out. You will receive your clear aligners either at home (for at home aligner programs) or from your dentist (for dentist delivered aligner programs). It’s now time to start wearing your clear aligners to straightening your smile. Don’t forget, the key to success with any orthodontic treatment is compliance. This means that you must wear your aligners as instructed to get the best results. Whether it’s all day, half-a-day or overnight, you must follow your dentist instructions to get the results you desire. Click here to learn about the 3 different ways you can wear your clear aligners in order to achieve the best end results.

Step 6: Monitoring your progress

Simpler orthodontic treatment can be completed at your own home without having to visit your dentist or orthodontist periodically. For more complicated tooth movements, you must visit your dentist or orthodontist periodically. This means that you need to see your dentist or orthodontist every two to six weeks until you’re treatment is complete. Your doctor will perform treatments such as tooth contouring, attachment placement or bite adjustment to ensure the success of your treatment. They will also monitor your progress to ensure treatment is going as planned and make corrections if needed.

Step 7: Reviewing your final results

Straightening your teeth is kind of a big deal! Subtle details like having an accurate bite or correct tooth-to-tooth contact will affect the overall well-being of your mouth for the rest of your life. Wearing clear aligners without proper dentist supervision could mess up your bite, harm your teeth or damage existing dental restorations. Therefore, it’s important to follow up with your dentist to ensure that treatment has gone according to plan. Occasionally your doctor may take additional corrective measures to if fix unforeseen issues. This may involve bite calibration, fixing certain teeth or even using additional corrective clear aligners for corrective measures.

What are my options for straightening my teeth with clear aligners?

There are about a dozen different treatment options if you’re planning on straightening your teeth using clear aligners. We can categorize teeth straightening options as either at-home or dentist-directed aligner treatment. Here is a list of different treatment options to consider for your clear aligner program:

Option 1: Clear aligner treatment at home

At home clear aligner treatment is suitable for simple orthodontic movements. This includes closing small gaps, straightening slightly crooked teeth, closing tiny overbites and other minor orthodontic tooth movements. Here is a list of a couple of different at home clear aligner treatment options to consider:

Option 2: Clear aligner therapy through your local dentist or orthodontist

More sophisticated tooth movements require dentist-directed clear aligner treatment. Your dentist does more than just hand you a bunch of aligners! They will place attachments to torque stubborn teeth, perform tooth contouring to create room for movement and adjust your bite to correct any interference. Dentist-delivered clear aligner treatment is suitable for more advanced teeth crowding, moderate overbite, openbite and other moderate-to-advanced orthodontic conditions. Here is a list of several different dentist-delivered clear aligner therapy options to chose from:


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