What are clear aligners?
Most people are familiar with traditional train track braces, which have gained notoriety over the years thanks to TV shows such as Ugly Betty. However, what you may not know is that we can now straighten teeth using virtually-invisible clear aligners.
Clear aligners such as Invisalign are custom-made just for your teeth and fit them much like a gum shield (albeit much more discreetly!). Throughout your treatment you’ll wear a series of aligners, which over time will gently move your teeth into their new position.
Advantages of clear aligners
One of the obvious benefits of clear aligners is that they’re very inconspicuous. There are no obtrusive metal wires or brackets on show, so they blend in discreetly with your teeth. While they’re not invisible, friends will need to get uncomfortably close to spot them!
Unlike train track braces, clear aligners are removable. So you can take your brace out for eating, drinking and to brush your teeth. You can even take your aligners out for an important meeting or special occasion – just as long as you’re wearing them for the recommended 20 to 22 hours a day.
Easy to clean
Being able to remove your aligners to brush your teeth might not sound very enticing, but actually it’s a big benefit. One of the disadvantages of fixed braces is that they can be difficult to brush around, and if you don’t clean your teeth carefully you’ll be at risk of tooth decay or decalcification. With clear aligners you can easily take them out to reach all the surfaces of your teeth – brushing and flossing with ease.
While metal braces can rub the inside of your lips and cheeks when they’re first fitted, clear aligners are designed to be smooth and comfortable. When you first wear a new aligner it might feel quite tight, but this completely normal and it’s this pressure that’s gently moving your teeth. Clear aligners also make eating a more comfortable experience and you can continue to enjoy all of your favourite foods.
With any kind of brace your clinician will be able to give you an idea of how long your treatment will take. However, with aligners we can usually give you a more accurate estimate. This is because your treatment is carefully planned using CAD/CAM technology. If you opt for Invisalign aligners, we can even show you your digital treatment plan and how your teeth are likely to look at each stage of your treatment.
Disadvantages of clear aligners
Easy to misplace
Being able to remove your aligners is for the most part a blessing, but it can also be a curse. It’s really important to wear your aligners for the required amount of time each day, otherwise your teeth simply won’t move. Taking your aligners out can also make your brace easier to misplace, so make sure you put it straight into its protective case when it’s not being worn. If you do lose one of your aligners start wearing your previous aligner and get in touch with us as soon as you can.
May affect speech
You mouth is a sensitive area and any new addition is going to feel very strange at first. It will take your tongue a few days to get used to your aligners and during this time you might have a slight lisp. You can adapt to wearing your aligners quickly by practising your speech – and don’t be tempted to take them out too much during the first few days.
Historically clear aligners were best suited to mild cases. Now, though, they are capable of treating most problems including spacing, crowding and bite problems. This is thanks in part to the introduction of attachments. Invisalign attachments are small dots of tooth-coloured composite, which are added to certain teeth at different stages of your treatment. They act as anchor points, allowing your aligners to achieve more challenging movements. While they are discreet and will be discussed with you before you start your treatment, some patients will need several attachments and they can make your aligners slightly more conspicuous.