Posts for tag: clear aligners
For decades, traditional braces were the only orthodontic choice for moving misaligned teeth. Although they’re quite effective, they can cause discomfort and, for teens especially, embarrassment due to their noticeable metallic appearance.
In recent years, though, technology has produced an alternative to braces that’s proven effective for many types of patients. Besides being less cumbersome and disruptive to everyday life than braces, clear aligners have another advantage that appeals to teens — they’re much less visible.
Introduced in the late 1990s, clear aligners are a system of individual trays made of nearly invisible polyurethane plastic worn over the upper teeth. The trays are computer-generated based on the patient’s individual mouth structure captured in photographs and x-rays. Each tray in the sequence is incrementally smaller in size; the patient begins wearing the first aligner in the series for about two weeks, 20 to 22 hours a day. They then switch to the next tray in the series for about the same amount of time, and continue in this fashion until they’ve worn each aligner in the series.
Besides their improvement in appearance, aligners also have another advantage: unlike traditional braces, aligners can be removed from the mouth for eating or on a limited basis for rare important social occasions. Brushing and flossing are also much easier with aligners, which don’t pose the same access problems as traditional braces.
Clear aligners were once only effective with select types of orthodontic patients, which didn’t always include teens. Over the last decade, however, significant changes to design and additional implements have widened their application to more patients, especially teens. For example, we can now add tiny “power ridges” to the aligner design that give greater precision over desired tooth movement to create a more controlled and efficient force on the teeth. More recent aligners are also being produced with a thinner, more comfortable material.
A thorough orthodontic exam will tell whether your teen is a good candidate for clear aligners. If so, they’ll benefit from a more comfortable and less embarrassing experience while gaining a new smile for life.
If you would like more information on clear aligners, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Clear Aligners for Teens.”
It used to be that the only option for straightening a teenager's teeth involved lots of shiny hardware. Besides the esthetic downside, traditional orthodontic devices (braces) can interfere with the enjoyment of certain favorite foods, irritate the inside of the mouth, trap food particles (potentially another esthetic embarrassment and sustenance for cavity-causing bacteria), and complicate dental hygiene routines.
These aren't causes for concern with clear orthodontic aligners, however, which consist of a series of transparent plastic, removable trays that fit over the teeth and gradually move them into better positioning. About every two weeks, the teen proceeds to the next aligner in the progression (or set of aligners if treatment involves both the upper and lower teeth) until the improved alignment goal is reached. The trays are meant to be worn 22 hours a day, but they can be removed for eating, brushing and flossing, and, on a limited basis, special occasions.
Thanks to relatively recent developments in the design of clear aligner systems, teens who previously were not considered good candidates for this modality may now have this option available to them. This includes:
- Teens whose second molars (the last to come in except for wisdom teeth) haven't fully emerged. Aligners now come with “eruption tabs” that serve as place-holders for teeth that are still growing into position.
- Teens with severely rotated teeth requiring complicated movement. Tooth-colored attachments called “buttons” can be temporarily bonded onto teeth to provide additional leverage, and elastics (rubber bands) can also be used to promote movement.
Compliance is always a concern with any orthodontic treatment — whether it be gum chewing with traditional braces or wearing clear aligners for the requisite period of time each day. Aligners now come with built-in colored “compliance indicators” that fade with use over time. This makes it possible for orthodontists, dentists, parents and teens alike to monitor both compliance and treatment progress.
If you would like more information about clear orthodontic aligners please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Clear Aligners for Teens.”