It’s never too late to straighten and beautify your smile. There are plenty of different options to help you straighten your teeth. The type of orthodontic treatment that best suits your needs depends on how much tooth movement is required and not your age. To better understand this, we will break down tooth movements into 3 categories:
Complex tooth movements
Mediocre tooth movements
Simple tooth movements
Each type of tooth movement requires its own teeth straightening system. Let’s take a closer look at how each one works:
Complex tooth movements
What are complex tooth movements?
Complex orthodontic tooth movements require the most amount of force to move your teeth. For example, moving back teeth, correcting extensive misalignments and any type of tooth movement combined with tooth extraction falls into the complex category.
Examples of complex tooth movements:
Large open bites
Severe teeth crowding
Any type of problem caused by poor skeletal relationship
Orthodontic treatments which require tooth extraction
What is the ideal treatment for complex tooth movements?
Complex orthodontic tooth movements require braces. Clear aligners are never an option for treating complex orthodontic conditions. Here are several different braces options to consider from:
To learn more, talk to your dentist or orthodontist to see if you’re a candidate for braces treatment.
Mediocre tooth movements
What are mediocre tooth movements?
Mediocre tooth movements are those which don’t require as much force to move your teeth. Most mediocre tooth movements qualify for clear aligner treatment instead of braces. Therefore, if your orthodontic treatment is not too complicated, you may have the option of treatment with clear aligners. It’s recommended to choose dentist delivered clear aligners (such as Invisalign® or Even28 at-dentist™) to treat mediocre tooth movements.
Examples of mediocre tooth movements:
Moderate teeth crowding
Large gap teeth
What is the ideal treatment for mediocre tooth movements?
There are a few different clear aligner systems to choose from when considering dentist-delivered clear aligners, such as:
Keep in mind, your dentist plays an integral role in these types of clear aligner treatments. For instance, your dentist may have to perform treatments such as tooth contouring, bite calibration and/or attachment placement. Plus, your dentist or orthodontist will monitor your progress to ensure that your treatment is on track. Dentist delivered clear aligner treatments generally give you better results as compared to at home aligners. Plus, the results are more likely to last you a life-time (so long as you wear your retainers of course!)
Simple tooth movements
What are simple tooth movements?
Simple tooth movements are those which require the least amount of force to move your teeth. Typically, simple orthodontic cases involve no more than 2 to 3 millimeters of movement per arch.
Examples of simple tooth movements:
Mild teeth crowding
Mild-to-moderate gap teeth
What is the ideal treatment for simple tooth movements?
Simple orthodontic movements can be treated with braces or dentist delivered clear aligners. However, there’s an easier way to fix these simple tooth movements. You can actually treat most simple tooth movements with at home clear aligner programs. There are plenty of different at home clear aligner treatment options available, for instance:
Keep in mind, there’s still a dentist involved in your treatment with at home clear aligners. However, chances are you may never meet the dentist or orthodontist in person. At home clear aligner programs work well for fixing simple orthodontic movements. However, they are not recommended for complex or mediocre tooth movements. More complicated tooth movements must always be treated under direct dentist supervision. Otherwise, you risk damaging your teeth, gums or even your bite in the long run!
Best orthodontic option for me?
Orthodontics is not a one size fits all. One patient may need 5 years of braces along with jaw surgery. Another one may need just 4 to 5 months of at home clear aligners. The orthodontic treatment that is best for you depends on how much tooth movement is required. Talk to your neighborhood dentist or orthodontist to see which treatment option is most suitable for your needs. Just be sure to enjoy your smile journey and best of luck with your new and improved smile!
So you finally decided to straighten your smile with Invisalign®, Smile Direct Club™, Even28 Clear Aligners® or some other clear aligner system. Congratulations! There’s no question that having straight teeth is awesome. And straightened your smile with clear aligners, even more awesome! But why choose clear aligners? Why not just go with braces? Well, there are plenty of benefits to clear aligner treatment. Let’s check out some of the reasons why more and more patients are choosing clear aligners over traditional braces:
(1) More comfortable to wear
Clear aligners are much more comfortable than braces. There’s always some level of pain and discomfort when your teeth start to move. After all, no pain means no tooth movement! Having said that, removable plastic is much less painful than permanent brackets and wires. You’re also not as likely to cut your cheeks, lips and tongue with aligners as you are with braces. This is not to say that wearing aligner treatment is completely painless. Still, clear aligner therapy is a much more pleasant experience as compared to braces.
(2) Less noticeable in your mouth
It’s hard not to notice someone with braces in their mouth. After all, those brackets and wires can be pretty hard to miss! On the other hand, clear aligners go unnoticed most of the times. You’d have to pay very close attention to realize that someone is wearing aligners in their mouth. This is one of the main reasons why most adults choose clear aligners over braces, especially those with an active lifestyle.
(3) The ability to remove clear aligners from your mouth
The ability to remove clear aligners is another major reason why most adults prefer clear aligners to braces. What do you think happens if you’re in the middle of clear aligner therapy and all of a sudden an important job interview, date or event comes up? Well, you simply skip wearing your clear aligners for a couple of hours and problem solved! Unfortunately, wearing braces doesn’t give you this option. Braces are basically stuck to your teeth for the duration of your orthodontic treatment and you can’t remove them.
(4) More hygienic than braces
It’s very easy to clean your teeth and gums if you’re wearing clear aligners. Simply remove your clear aligners and you’re all set to clean your teeth as you normally would. The same can not be said of braces. Brushing your teeth, especially at the gumlines, is very tough when wearing braces. Flossing your teeth is next to impossible. As a result, you’re more likely to develop dental cavities or gum disease with braces as compared to clear teeth aligners.
(5) No white spot lesions
Ever notice someone with a smile that looks like this? This phenomenon is referred to as white spot lesions. White spot lesions is a side-effect of braces. Basically, your brackets create a discoloration which causes an undesirable mismatch in teeth color. Unfortunately, fixing white spot lesions is very tough. This type of discoloration does not respond well to teeth whitening and typically requires extensive cosmetic dentistry to correct. The best way to avoid white spot lesions during brace treatment is to monitor your diet, minimize processed sugars and brush your teeth really well. On the opposite hand, clear aligner treatment has no risk of developing white spot lesions since there are no brackets involved.
(6) Increasingly comparable costs
Clear aligner treatment used to cost two to three times that of braces. Fortunately this is no longer the case. Clear aligner technology has become much more affordable as compared to 20 years ago when it was just introduced. As clear aligner treatment cost continues to drop, more and more patients are able to afford aligner therapy. Nowadays, the difference in treatment cost between clear aligners and braces is negligible. In fact, simpler orthodontic movements often times cost less to treat with clear aligners as opposed to with braces!
(7) More fun!
I know, fun is an objective term and we all have our own definition of what is fun. Still, most patients who undergo aligner therapy find that wearing aligners is actually kind of fun! Many miss not wearing their aligners after treatment is done. Plus, seeing your teeth move on a 3-D animation model before starting treatment is fun. Seeing your teeth move in person and watching your smile straighten week-after-week is even more fun. Finally, having a straight and beautiful smile in just a few months is the most fun!
Am I a good candidate for clear aligner treatment?
Most of you are probably ready to start your clear aligner treatment after having read this article! But before you get too excited about clear aligners, you need to make sure that you actually qualify for aligner therapy. After all, not every orthodontic condition can be treated with clear aligners. The most complicated of all orthodontic conditions still require traditional braces. To see if your orthodontic condition qualifies for clear aligner therapy, visit a dentist or orthodontist near you today. You can also take our clear aligner assessment quiz to see how likely you are to qualify for clear aligner therapy. Good luck with your smile journey and be sure to smile often once your grin is all nice and even!
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:
When should I first get evaluated for my orthodontic status?
The sooner in life you evaluate your orthodontic condition, the easier it is to treat your condition. This is why orthodontists recommend that you have your child evaluated by age 6 or 7 to determine their orthodontic status. This doesn’t mean your child will get braces at this age, it just means that the orthodontist will decide whether or not they need orthodontic treatment and also when they should start their treatment. Early assessment allows for interceptive orthodontic treatment, also referred to as Phase one, when necessary. Phase one orthodontic treatment has several benefits, such as:
Your child’s dentist or orthodontist can assist their adult teeth into erupting into it’s correct position
They can better correct underlying skeletal problems at a younger age
Phase one treatment helps cut down on future orthodontic treatment to significantly lessen the time your child has to wear braces or aligners
When necessary, phase one orthodontic treatment is performed between the ages of 7 to 10. Your child still has some of his or her baby teeth in place at this age, which means that your dentist or orthodontist can help line up their baby teeth in anticipation of the soon to erupt adult teeth.
What is the best age to start comprehensive orthodontic treatment?
The best time to start full orthodontic treatment is between the ages of 11 and 16. Orthodontists usually recommend that you start comprehensive orthodontic treatment, also referred to as phase two, once all of your adult teeth have fully erupted. This usually occurs around the age of 11 for most girls and around 12 for boys. Keep in mind that this does not include trapped teeth, aka impacted teeth, which will require your dentist or orthodontist’s assistance to erupt into their proper position. We always recommend beginning orthodontic treatment before the age of 17. It can be difficult starting orthodontic treatment once you get ready to graduate from high school and start working or attending college. Plus, your facial bones start to fuse as you get past your teenage years which makes it more difficult to move your teeth around.
Is there an age cutoff for receiving orthodontic treatment?
Luckily, there is no age limit to receiving orthodontic treatment including braces or clear aligners! Whether you’re in you thirties, forties, fifties or even your sixties, you can qualify for orthodontic treatment. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time getting braces or if you’ve already had braces and now want to straighten your teeth a second time. There are plenty of benefits to receiving orthodontic treatment as an adult, for instance:
Adults are better at keeping their appointments which makes it easier to complete their orthodontic treatment on schedule
Typically, adults are better at following their dentist or orthodontist’s instructions so they get better results
Finally, adults understand the importance of maintaining proper oral hygiene throughout their orthodontic treatment so they end up with less complications as compared to children
As you can see, you’re never too old to improve your oral health and enhance your smile. Don’t let your age be a determining factor in whether or not you decide to fix your smile with braces or clear aligners.
What are the benefits of orthodontic treatment for adults?
There are many benefits to straightening your teeth as an adult, regardless of whether you do it with clear aligners or braces. Here are some of the major benefits of orthodontic treatment for adults:
Enhance your smile and improve your appearance
There’s no questions that having a straight smile is an important part of your overall appearance. Your smile is one of the first things that others notice about you. Straightening your teeth can improve your appearance, increase your self-confidence and make you feel better about your smile.
Reduce your risk of developing cavities
Did you know that patients with crooked teeth are much more likely to develop cavities in between their teeth? Maintaining proper oral hygiene is much more challenging when your teeth are crooked, therefore you develop more cavities. Straightening your smile can help reduce your chances of developing new and recurrent dental cavities, regardless of how old you are.
Improve your gum health and fight ginigivitis
Maintaining healthy gums is also much more difficult when you have crooked or gap teeth. Crooked teeth and gap teeth cause more plaque to accumulate on your teeth as compared to straight teeth. Once this plaque remains in place for a few days it starts to calcify and forms into tartar. Gradually, your gums start to bleed and become infected, causing you to develop gum disease. Straightening your teeth can make it much easier to maintain adequate oral hygiene, no matter your age. This can improve your gum health and may reduce, or even eliminate, your gum disease (along with maintaining proper dental cleaning and treatment from your dentist of course).
Improve your bite relationship
Having a poor bite relationship between your teeth can make it difficult to chew your food. A poor bite also causes your teeth and dental restorations, such as fillings and crowns, to chip and break more frequently. Finally, a poor bite can be partially responsible for migraine headaches, tension pain and other head and neck related problems. Improving your bite with braces or clear aligners can help reduce such complications.
Is it better to go with clear aligners or braces for adults?
You may have the option to wearing either clear aligners or braces if you qualify. Naturally, most adults prefer going with clear aligners over braces when given the choice. Clear aligners have several benefits over braces for adults, for example:
Clear aligners are much more comfortable to wear and are less painful than braces
You can remove clear aligners to eat or clean your teeth whereas braces are always stuck to your teeth
Clear aligners are barely visible inside your mouth which makes them less noticeable than braces
Plastic aligners are less likely to cut or bruise your mouth as compared to wires and brackets
There’s no metal in clear aligners which makes them a better option for people with metal allergies
Your dentist or orthodontist will discuss clear aligners or braces with you to help you decide between the two. Keep in mind that the most difficult cases always require braces and can not be treated with clear aligners.
How long does adult orthodontic treatment typically take?
Typically, adult orthodontic treatment takes a bit longer than treatment for teenagers. This is primarily due to the stiffening of your jaw bones which makes it a bit more difficult to move your teeth around. Simpler cases and those who have already had braces usually require 6 to 9 months of clear aligners or braces treatment. More complicated cases can take 1 to 2 years, sometimes even longer. Visit your local dentist or orthodontist to determine exactly how long your treatment will take.
What are things I need to consider when receiving orthodontic treatment as an adult?
Receiving clear aligners or braces can get a bit more tricky as an adult. Of course, if you excellent teeth and gums, then you have nothing to worry about. You’re most likely a good candidate for orthodontic treatment and can get started right away. However, for those of us who have had other dental problems in the past, there are a few things you must consider before starting orthodontic treatment. Here are a few things which you must be on the lookout for prior to starting clear aligner or braces therapy:
Healthy gums to support orthodontic treatment
Having healthy gums is one of the most important prerequisites to starting orthodontic treatment. You’ll most likely require a thorough dental cleaning before started clear aligner or braces treatment. If you suffer from gingivitis, you need to get your gum disease under control prior to starting orthodontic treatment. Those who suffer from advanced gum disease, known as periodontitis, must postpone all orthodontic treatments until their gum disease is under control. Those suffering from the most advanced stage of gum disease will not qualify for any type of orthodontic treatment. It’s too dangerous to move teeth which already have extensive bone loss due to advanced gum disease, therefore you won’t be able to wear clear aligners or braces.
No major underlying dental conditions
There are a few dental procedures which can affect your orthodontic treatment. For instance, if you already have veneers on your front teeth then there’s a chance you may have to redo them after completing your orthodontic treatment. If you have dental implants in your mouth you need to discuss them with your treating dentist or orthodontist. Dental implants can not be moved during orthodontic treatment, therefore you need to have a plan to get around moving these artificial teeth. Your dentist or orthodontist will evaluate your mouth to review things which you need to take into consideration prior to starting your orthodontic program.
Plan to fix the rest of your mouth
It’s no surprise that the older we get, the more dental problems we have. Cavities, crowns, dental implants, missing teeth and other dental treatments can off your somewhat complicate orthodontic treatment. It’s important to have a long-term plan to fix untreated dental conditions. Typically, it’s best to start off your treatment by straightening your teeth, however you can’t forget about fixing the rest of your mouth either! Otherwise, your bite can collapse and you’ll be back to where you started within a few years.
Long-term retention plan
It’s not uncommon for teenagers not to wear their retainers. This means that they end up having to redo their orthodontic treatment teeth as an adult. You definitely don’t want to have to redo your orthodontic treatment, especially not as an adult! This means that you need to have a plan on wearing orthodontic retainers to keep your teeth in their new position. Be sure to wear your retainers the way your dentist or orthodontist recommends in order to keep your teeth from shifting to their previous position. Alternatively, consider placing a fixed retainer on your teeth to make sure they stay where they are. Talk to your dentist or orthodontist to come up with a plan to keep your straight smile and make sure to follow their instructions!
What if I already had orthodontic treatment and now need a simple touch-up?
There is good news for those of you who are considering redoing their orthodontic treatment a second time: it’s much easier to move your teeth if you’ve already had braces or clear aligners in the past. Plus, you’re much more likely to qualify for clear aligner therapy over traditional braces if you’ve already had orthodontic treatment. Finally, your’re expected treatment time shouldn’t be too long. Most orthodontic relapse cases are completed in under a year, sometimes in as little as just a few months. Ready to get started with your new smile? Find a dentist or orthodontist near you to get fix with your smile today! If you’re interested in learning more about straightening your smile with clear aligners as an adult, check out some of your options by clicking on the links below: