A Complete Guide to Aligners
What are Aligners?
Aligners are commonly referred to as “clear aligners” or “invisible braces.” These common terms are accurate, since aligners work similar to braces to help align crooked teeth. As the name states, they are also indeed clear (one of their biggest selling points).
Even though invisible aligners help correct misaligned teeth in a similar way traditional braces do, there are some significant differences between the two.
One significant difference is that traditional braces are made from metal, gold, or ceramic, while clear aligners are made from plastic. This difference in materials is one of the reasons that clear plastic aligners have become so popular in recent years.
While treatment for crooked teeth is about oral health as much as aesthetics, sometimes the aesthetics of wearing metal braces often deters patients (especially adults) from getting treatment. Therefore, with clear aligner treatment a patient can get the treatment they need without having to sacrifice aesthetics.
What Are the Advantages of Clear Aligners?
In addition to the difference of materials used in making clear aligners vs metal braces, another big difference is how they are used to straighten the teeth. With traditional braces, metal brackets are adhered to the teeth and then connected with a wire that creates tension. The tension on the wire and how the shape of the wire interacts with the bracket is what helps to move the teeth over time.
Since the metal brackets need to be adhered to each individual tooth, they cannot be removed until the treatment is complete. On the other hand, clear aligners can easily be removed every day. This is one of the biggest advantages of clear aligners.
As the clear aligners are removable, you can choose what time of day you wear them (although you do need 20 hours of any given day for success). This gives you control to wear them when it is best for you, as well as to choose who knows you are wearing them. It also allows you greater ease over your daily oral health routine.
One thing many people find frustrating with traditional braces is the need to adapt to new practices for brushing and flossing. Many people are even told to avoid certain foods that could get stuck in their braces.
With clear aligners though, you can continue to floss, brush, and eat as you normally would because you can simply remove your aligner tray.
How long is the Aligner Process?
With the ability to remove aligners every day, you may wonder if this means it takes longer to achieve straight teeth using this treatment. While there is a lot of misleading marketing on aligners being faster than braces, they take about the same time.
The old adage of “the teeth and bone do not know what is moving them” applies here. Meaning it still takes the same amount of time for your bone biology to allow the tooth to change positions.
While overall treatment time is similar to braces, using aligners does save you time throughout the process with less visits needed to see the orthodontist. While traditional metal braces require you to see the orthodontist anywhere from every 6-8 weeks, Invisalign and 3m Clarity aligner patients only must go in for an office visit every 12 weeks. Many of these visits can be virtual.
So, while some young kids may like to go in for frequent office visits to get new colored rubber bands on their braces – most adults love how they do not need to see the orthodontist in person as frequently.
At Home Aligners vs. In Office Treatment
If you have been thinking about getting clear aligners, then you may have explored trying an at home kit, known as direct to consumer. The appeal of not having to go into the orthodontic office is one of the biggest appeals for at home aligners.
Even though an orthodontist doesn’t have to apply traditional braces, getting aligners is still a practice that falls under orthodontic care. Therefore, just because an orthodontist does not have to provide the specialized practice of adhering braces to your teeth, it is still best to have an orthodontic specialist diagnose your malocclusion and give you an individualized treatment plan.
As with any type of medical treatment, it is very useful to have a local expert to check-in with as needed. With at home aligners, you do not have access to a professional that you can go in and visit if something goes wrong.
A common frustration that patients have with at home aligners is when the aligner tray rubs on their gums. While this may not seem like a big deal, if the trays are uncomfortable, you may not wear them as regularly. Therefore, your investment may not pay off because your treatment may be slowed down (or you may never finish it). Other common complaints of at home aligners are the aligners do not fit or “I did not get the results I was promised.”
By choosing in office treatment, you have access to a trusted orthodontist that you can contact for questions or in person office visits. You also have the accountability of a professional to help you complete your treatment.
Orthodontic Treatment for Clear Aligners
Here at Reagin Orthodontics, we make it our mission to offer the best orthodontic care. When it comes to clear aligners, this means offering patients easy and accessible options and the best treatment available.
As a clear aligner specialist, Dr. Reagin has helped over 1000 patients achieve their perfect smile. He has been able to accomplish this by combining his knowledge of orthodontia and the support of Invisalign clear aligners.
Dr. Reagin trusts the Invisalign process as not only a reputable brand, but a treatment that is effective and truly aligned with best practices for orthodontic care.
In addition to the treatment itself, our team has also noticed how important it is to make this a process that fits with each patient’s lifestyle. We do this through only requiring in office visits as needed, and even offering virtual appointments.
On average, we only need to see our clear aligner patients every 12 weeks for check-ups. Furthermore, as mentioned above, not all those visits have to be in person! Since the trays are removable, we can check-in with you virtually. This makes it so you get the ease of at home aligners, with the orthodontic care of in office aligners.
Who Can Use Aligners?
Traditional metal braces are often viewed as a treatment for kids and teens. Therefore, most adults are not eager to show-off braces even if they want straight teeth. Therefore, clear aligners were mostly marketed towards adults when they first came on the market.
However, many teens today do not want to wear visible braces either. As a result, brands like Invisalign created a specific treatment for teens. Even though clear aligners can be worn by teens though, there are some things to consider before choosing clear aligners over other braces.
One of the main factors in deciding if Invisalign braces are right for your teen is to determine if your teen will remember to consistently wear the Invisalign trays. Since clear aligners are removable and only worn for a certain amount of time each day (20 hours per day), it can be easy to forget to wear them. This can then result in not seeing the results you (or your teen) want.
Invisalign and 3m Clarity aligners want to make sure that everyone sees the results they want though. Therefore, they created a helpful tool so that parents and teens can use, to check and see that each tray is being worn as needed. Learn more about it over on the Invisalign® Teen section of our website.
Moreover, clear aligners continue to be an excellent option for their original target audience – adults. They are just as effective as the braces you would have gotten as a kid, but with all the added benefits of ease, comfort, and invisibility!
Learn more about this revolutionary treatment on our main Invisalign® Invisible Braces page.
How Much Do Aligners Cost?
When choosing the best orthodontic treatment for yourself or your teen, part of the decision may come down to cost. We understand! We know that proper orthodontic care can be a large financial investment.
It is much more than an investment in cosmetic dentistry though, it is an investment in your overall oral health, confidence, and self-esteem. Therefore, we do our best to provide patients with a full financial overview, as well as financing options to support each person in finding the plan that works best for their family.
While you may want to know the cost before even seeing an orthodontist, the cost for clear aligners can vary from patient to patient depending on each treatment plan. To help you get an idea though, we have a finance calculator on our website to provide you with a general direction.
Choosing the Best Clear Aligners
With every type of dental or orthodontic treatment, every patient is different. Therefore, it is always best to get a consultation before making a final decision. A consultation is a time for you to get a professional opinion from an expert on the best treatment for you or your teen.
During a consultation a trained orthodontist, like Dr. Reagin, will discuss what he sees and your goals. He will then provide an overview of a treatment plan. Sometimes it will be suggested to begin treatment soon, while other times treatment may not be needed until the future.
The great thing about a consultation for clear aligners is that there isn’t a commitment, just helpful information so you can make the best decision for you or your family.