There are a variety of different orthodontic treatments. Depending on the problem encountered, the orthodontist offers the patient the most appropriate one. Among these choices, there is an innovative technology, which offers an interesting alternative to the classic appliances used in orthodontics. Aligners can be the perfect solution for those who want to improve the alignment of their teeth, but don’t want to wear traditional fixed appliances.
What are aligners?
Aligners are removable transparent aligners that completely cover the surface of the teeth and apply corrective force to specific areas. They induce the desired repositioning, in a very gradual and subtle way, barely a fraction of a millimeter at a time.
These aligners, custom made to precisely fit the tooth surface, are molded from a tough, metal-free thermoplastic material. They are called “scalable” because they are changed frequently (every 3 or 4 weeks). The goal is to get new aligners that always produce the right pressure in the right place on the teeth. Thus, they induce the ideal corrective movement, making it possible to reach the desired final position.
The sequence of movements produced by the aligners is well controlled and comfortable.
Who is this treatment for?
As the aligners are transparent, they are very discreet. This type of treatment is of particular interest to adults who hesitate to undertake orthodontic treatment, not wanting to attract attention by wearing less aesthetic “braces” …
A complete assessment of the patient’s oral situation will determine if aligners are an appropriate treatment choice. Some dental alignment problems are too severe to be corrected with aligners, while other problems simply cannot be corrected this way.
In general, aligners are suitable for dealing with problems of dental overlap or teeth too far apart, for certain malocclusion problems (overbite or under bite) and for misalignments between upper and lower teeth. When the teeth need to be strongly moved, the dentist usually uses traditional fixed appliances.
How does treatment start?
Before starting orthodontic treatment, the dentist performs a complete analysis of your oral situation and determines whether a tooth extraction may be necessary.
The first step is then to take a fingerprint of the entire dentition, using a digital scanner. The image produced is transferred to a computer program which creates a virtual 3D model of the teeth. The dentist can then develop an evolving treatment plan that allows him to predict how the teeth will need to move in order to reach their ideal final position.
Finally, the prescription is sent to the dental laboratory, which will mold and manufacture the custom-made transparent aligners.
What are the advantages of aligners?
The biggest advantage of this technology is certainly its aesthetics. Being invisible, the device does not attract glances and therefore goes unnoticed.
The aligners, perfectly molded on the teeth and free of metal parts, are comfortable and have no roughness that could injure the inside of the mouth. In addition, the sequence of movement produced on the teeth is subtle and gradual, causing minimal discomfort.
They can be removed to effectively perform oral hygiene and for eating, which has the advantage of not creating any dietary restrictions during treatment. They can also be removed temporarily, for a special event such as a wedding or for taking important photos.
The limits of this technology
Aligners offer many advantages, but have some limitations. Since the movement is induced by a shell that is not attached to the tooth, the treatment is a little less precise than with traditional braces. Sometimes the teeth can slide inside the aligner and not perfectly follow the prescribed movement.
In addition, people should be disciplined and wear aligners as often as possible, day and night, and only remove them during meals or oral hygiene. Otherwise, the duration of treatment may be extended.
Finally, this technology is not suitable for all dental alignment problems. A consultation with your dentist is essential to determine if aligners might be right for you.