Clear aligners- do they have any advantages?
Clear aligners may be new to you but they have been used in the dental clinics for nearly 20 years! It’s only in the last 5 or so years that they have been made available outside of the dentist’s office, with manufacturers advertising directly to patients on TV and online. This might have left you wondering what the big deal is- are they as good as they seem? Here, what aligners can and can’t do will be explored alongside their advantages.
What is an aligner?
The clear aligners are a plastic form that you wear over your teeth. They are tight-fitting and will constantly push on your teeth gradually altering there position over time.
How are aligners made?
The clever bit of aligners from Invisalign in Maidstone is how such a personalised piece of medical equipment is cost-effectively made for each patient’s needs. The standard metal brace is formed of interchangeable components which can be individually mass manufactured and moved through normal supply chains. Aligners are far more like having a suit tailored for you and start with a ‘fitting’. Very detailed measurements need to be taken of the position of your teeth. The best way to do this is with a 3D scan, which can be done directly with an inter-oral scanner or by scanning a plaster cast made from a dental mould.
This scan is processed by an orthodontist who will prepare the treatment schedule, designing a set on aligners with the help of software that will reshape your smile from scratch.
The aligners then need to be made; because each aligner is unique, the best method to produce them is through 3D printing, using UV light-cured resins to quickly and accurately produce the aligners. It takes 3-4 weeks from fitting to delivery at the dental surgery.
What are aligners like to use?
Most orthodontic patients who have used braces and aligners prefer the aligners and it is easy to see why, but perhaps not for the reasons you would expect. Yes, the clear aligner is almost unnoticeable in public and has led to them being nicknamed invisible braces. Also, the way they constantly apply pressure to the teeth rather than the tightening adjustment performed with a traditional brace every few weeks is far more comfortable.
Their real advantage is their convenience to clean; a standard metal brace can easily become clogged when eating and takes time for a patient to thoroughly clean correctly due to the anchor points and archwire. An aligner is removed while eating and as long as you brush after meals and before replacing it (a quick rinse in cold water), it should stay in top condition.
With the growing popularity of aligners, it seems that the clear aligners will replace the metal brace for minor misalignments of non-molar teeth in most dental surgeries soon. Its seems that the role of the metal brace will be used as a second option for more complex cases, or for patients who have used clear options to little effect.