At Trail West Family Dentistry, we offer solutions that work for you. Clear aligners are gaining popularity as the go-to orthodontic treatment. They can fix almost all alignment and bite issues without majorly interrupting your life. If you want a minimally invasive, nearly invisible way to straighten your teeth, clear aligners may be for you. Continue reading to learn about clear aligners and the process for getting them.

Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontics is a field of dentistry associated with correcting your bite, the alignment of your teeth, and how your teeth meet together. Common orthodontic treatment includes traditional braces, clear aligners, and removable retainers. Clear aligners, unlike traditional braces, are favored for their discreet appearance, they don’t require metal wires and brackets, and they are convenient because they are removable. 

Getting clear aligners is important to understand because, although they are more convenient, not using them correctly can mean the results are less impressive. However, when using clear aligners correctly, one can experience many benefits. Beyond straightening your teeth, clear aligners are nearly invisible, they’re more comfortable than traditional braces, and they require fewer visits to the dentist. 

How do Clear Aligners work?

Clear aligners move your teeth through a process called controlled tooth displacement. This process involves the application of gentle, consistent forces to specific areas of your teeth, gradually guiding them into the desired alignment. Throughout treatment, aligner trays are required to achieve the desired position of the teeth, and each tray is manufactured by using 3D scans of your jaws and teeth. With each slight movement of your teeth accomplished through an aligner, you move on to the next aligner tray, furthering the small movements of your teeth. This process continues until your teeth are moved into their desired positions and your smile has improved. 

Initial Consultation 

The first step is to visit a dentist or orthodontist specializing in clear aligner therapy. During the consultation, your teeth will be examined, and a treatment plan will be developed based on your specific needs and goals. This may involve taking X-rays, photographs, and dental impressions.

Treatment Planning

Advanced technology is used to create a 3D digital model of your teeth. This is usually done through intraoral scanning, where a small wand-like device captures images of your teeth. The digital model helps design the stages of tooth movement throughout the treatment process. You may also be shown a treatment simulation to give you an idea of the expected outcome.

Manufacturing the Aligners

Custom aligners are fabricated using the digital model created in the planning stage. These aligners are made of a clear, BPA-free plastic material and are virtually invisible when worn. Each aligner in the series is slightly different and designed to move your teeth into the desired position gradually.

Receiving and Wearing the Aligners

Once your aligners are ready, you will be instructed on how to wear them. You must wear the aligners for most of the day, usually around 20 to 22 hours per day, only removing them for eating, drinking (except for plain water), brushing, and flossing. It’s essential to follow the recommended wear schedule for optimal results.

Every few weeks or as advised by your dentist, you will switch to the next set of aligners in the series. Each new aligner will be slightly different, exerting gentle pressure on your teeth to move them into the desired alignment gradually. The number of aligners and the duration of treatment will depend on your specific case.

Monitoring Progress

Throughout the treatment process, you will have regular check-ups with your dentist or orthodontist to monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments. They will ensure that the treatment is progressing as planned and address any concerns or issues you may have.

During clear aligner treatment, individuals may encounter a few common challenges. These can include:

  • Compliance: Clear aligners require consistent wear for the recommended number of hours daily, usually around 20 to 22 hours. Some people may find it challenging to maintain this level of compliance, especially when wearing aligners while eating or drinking. It’s important to strictly follow the prescribed wear schedule to ensure effective tooth movement and achieve the desired results.
  • Discomfort and Pressure: When starting a new set of aligners, it’s common to experience discomfort and pressure as the aligners apply forces to move the teeth. This discomfort is typically mild and temporary, lasting a few days until the teeth adjust to the new aligners. Over-the-counter pain relievers and orthodontic wax can help alleviate any discomfort.
  • Oral Hygiene: Maintaining proper oral hygiene is essential during clear aligner treatment. The aligners must be cleaned regularly using a non-abrasive cleaner or a denture-cleaning solution. Additionally, it’s important to brush and floss your teeth thoroughly after each meal before reinserting the aligners. Neglecting oral hygiene practices can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, or unpleasant odors.

It’s important to communicate any challenges or concerns with your dentist or orthodontist. They can provide guidance, address your questions, and help ensure a successful clear aligner treatment experience.

Transitioning to Retainers

Once the treatment is complete and your teeth have moved into the desired position, you will transition into the retention phase. This typically involves wearing a retainer, usually at night, to maintain the new alignment of your teeth. Retention is crucial to prevent teeth from shifting back to their original position.

Clear Aligner Solutions at Trail West Family Dentistry

Our Greenville, SC, office is devoted to restoring and enhancing the natural beauty of your teeth using conservative, advanced techniques. Every member of the Trail West Family Dentistry team is dedicated to your health, comfort, and satisfaction, and we promise solutions that will straighten your teeth and brighten your smile. If you’re struggling with problems such as crowded teeth, gaps, and misalignments, schedule a consultation today to see if clear aligners are right for you!