The most obvious advantage of the treatment is cosmetic: the aligners are completely transparent, therefore far more difficult to detect than traditional wire and bracket braces. This makes the method particularly popular among adults who want to straighten their teeth without the look of traditional metal braces, which are commonly worn by children and adolescents.
In addition, the aligners are more comfortable than braces. Due to the removable nature of the device, all foods can be consumed without any diet restrictions unlike with the braces.
Aligners should be removed to eat, drink, to clean the teeth, or to have them checked by the clinician. Because patients are able to remove the aligners, there are no restrictions on foods that could damage the appliances.
Clinically, aligners avoid many of the side effects of traditional fixed appliances, for example the effects on the enamel, gums and supporting tissues. Patients "graduate" to a new set of aligners in their treatment series approximately every two weeks. The aligners give less force per week and less pain than do fixed appliances (traditional metal braces). Fixed appliances are adjusted approximately every four to six weeks and apply greater forces. The aligners need visits once in 3-4 months, hence the number of visits to the clinic are fewer.
Like traditional fixed braces, they are largely dependent on a patient's habits and their co-operation. The success of the aligners is based on a patient's commitment to wear the aligners for a minimum of 20–22 hours per day, only removing them when they are eating, drinking, or brushing their teeth.
The system is much more expensive than traditional wire and bracket systems.
The aligners must be removed before eating, an advantage but also a disadvantage depending upon the person.
Also, similar to traditional metal braces, aligners may cause a slight lisp at the beginning of treatment. This usually disappears as the patient becomes used to the treatment.
Should the treatment go off track, or patients fail to keep the aligners in for the required length of time, then the next aligner in the series will not fit, and a new set of impressions and aligners will be necessary, adding to the duration and cost.
An orthodontist begins by taking digital dental scans, x-rays and photographs of the patient's teeth. The digital treatment plan is then simulated which is a great benefit as the patient can see the end result even before starting the treatment.
Once the aligners are ready, the Orthodontist delivers it to you with instructions on wear and care.
Attachments, also called buttons are sometimes bonded to teeth that need to be rotated or moved more than other teeth. Elastic wear (rubber bands) are also used to move the teeth forward or back relative to the jaw, thus accomplishing anterior or posterior corrections. Reproximation, (also called Interproximal Reduction or IPR is sometimes used at the contacts between teeth to allow for a better fit.
Average treatment time varies from few months to 2 years, again depending on the complexity of the treatment. Simple treatments (minor crowding, minor spacing) may be as short as twenty weeks. Although the aligners are removable, they must be worn at least 20 to 22 hours per day to avoid delaying the treatment process. If they are not worn consistently, treatment time will increase.
After the regular aligner or braces treatment is complete, retainers composed of a similar plastic material are usually required to be worn, at least at night for life.
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