What Is Clear Aligners: Everything You Need To Know

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Everyone wants a picture-perfect smile. Unfortunately, some of us may need some extra help achieving this. Many people out there suffer from some form of orthodontic issues that can affect their smiles. Although braces are available, a significant number of people are sceptical about having the traditional metal braces installed. For this reason, in most recent times, there has been a rise in dental appliances known as clear aligners. Clear or invisible aligners are a type of orthodontic treatment that corrects misaligned or crooked teeth. Unlike traditional metal braces that use brackets connected by metal wires to move teeth into their correct position, clear aligners are customized plastic trays that go over your teeth. 

Clear aligner treatment will require a series of custom-built plastic trays to correct several orthodontic issues to achieve a straighter smile. However, even though most people prefer clear aligners, it may not be the right dental treatment for you. Your orthodontist will need to perform a detailed examination and will decide the best option for you. 

How Do Clear Aligners Work?

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Clear aligners work by putting gentle pressure on teeth to move them into their correct positions. The pressure is transferred through your roots to your jaw to ensure the teeth move in the direction you want them to. 

The constant pressure to the jaw forces the jaw bone the move the teeth sockets, which means the teeth move as well. Clear aligners treatment tends to be gentler and more comfortable since they make smaller movements to correct teeth problems. 

However, don’t assume that you just snap your aligners on, and your teeth will start to move. Clear aligners are not attached to the teeth but simply placed over the teeth. In this case, your orthodontist will use a few other parts that ensure an effective clear aligner treatment. 

One such part that is used is called attachments. Attachments are bonded to your teeth for the duration of your treatment. They are tooth-coloured, and the placement and shape are decided by the tooth movement required. Attachments help direct your teeth into their proper position by applying pressure from the clear aligner to your teeth.  

In some cases, you may require the use of elastics that are commonly used in traditional braces. Elastics closely resemble tiny rubber bands and help to shift the upper teeth. These tiny little rubber bands are placed in slots in the aligner or on small buttons attached to the teeth. 

At times, your teeth may not fit as they should into the clear aligner and in this instance, your orthodontist may reshape and resize them. The changes are minor and do not require the use of anesthesia. This is why it is important to go to a licensed orthodontist for orthodontic treatments. 

Clear aligners are custom-built to ensure a tight fit. Adults and teens are the most suitable candidates for clear aligners. Invisible aligners are not suitable for children since they are still growing and developing. This means that their mouth is still growing and their mouths change within short periods. 

These liners are best suited to those with mild to moderately crowded teeth or those with a minor spacing issue. An adult orthodontic patient with issues like severe overbites, underbites and crossbites may need more complex treatment. 

Is Clear Aligners & Invisalign The Same?

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Essentially, they are the same, but Invisalign is simply the product name for a clear aligner manufactured by a company called Align Technology. Many other popular brands offer clear aligner therapy on the market like Clear Correct, byte, Candid Co, and others. 

It is human nature to call an item by its product name if it becomes popular. This is why there is often confusion among certain items, as many can get lost in terminology and treatment jargon. This is because people gravitate towards a brand, and they generalize all similar products by the trademark or branding of that particular company. 

Invisalign is one of the most popular aligner brands that has proven itself time and time again, which may be the reason why people tend to call all clear aligners “Invisalign.” Invisalign’s manufacturer on their website claims to have delivered beautiful smiles to more than 9.6 million people, including 2.4 million teens.

What To Expect When Getting Clear Aligners

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Before the fitting:

After the consultation with an orthodontist, they will take a mould of the patient’s teeth and generate a digital treatment plan. They will then review and adjust the digital treatment plan to ensure that all teeth’ movement is accurate and achievable. 

This custom treatment plan can also help experienced orthodontists determine how many aligner trays need to be in your series of aligners and if attachments need to be placed on the teeth. Once all of this is completed, it will be sent to the patient for approval. Once everything is settled, the patient is fitted with their first aligner in the treatment plan. 

After the fitting 

You will need loads of discipline once you have your aligners in. Almost every type of clear aligner can be removed to allow you to eat and clean your teeth better. Since you are in full control, you need to make sure your clear aligners are in at least 22 hours per day. Failure to do so can extend the treatment and cost you more money.

Some people think that clear aligners protect their teeth, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. You need to remove your clear aligners when eating so your teeth are still prone to the buildup of bacteria. You will need to brush and floss regularly to maintain good oral hygiene for a healthy smile. Just like keeping your teeth clean, you will have to clean your aligner too. Aligners sit in your mouth for 22 hours so they can get dirty or have a foul smell. Keeping them clean is essential to your oral health. Rinse them out with warm water or mouth wash every day.  

During the treatment time of your clear aligner therapy, your dentist will want to check the teeth’ status and see how they are progressing. This means that you will have to visit the dentist’s office regularly. The visits will also let your dentist know when it is time to swap out your current aligner for the next one in your sequence of aligners. You can expect to swap out your clear aligner every week or two weeks.  

How Much Do Clear Aligners Cost In Australia?

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The average cost for clear aligners is anywhere from $4,500 to $6000 . Keep in mind that minor treatments are going to cost less than major corrections. The cost of treatment will depend on individual treatment plans. Clear aligner therapy costs a lot, so if you can’t afford to pay all at once, look for an orthodontist that is willing to set up a monthly payment plan such as Afterpay or Open Pay to help you spread the cost. 

Are Clear Aligners Safe?

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Clear aligners are fairly safe, and lots of patients have recorded success from start to finish without any discomfort or complaints. However, a few studies have found some patients with a few issues during their clear aligner treatment plan. These include: 

  • Breathing trouble – some people have said that the clear aligner’s placement hampered their normal breathing process.  
  • Others claimed to have developed a sore throat after wearing their invisible aligner for just a few days. 
  • Itchiness – invisible aligner materials can irritate oral mucosa and lead to severe itchiness. 
  • Swollen lips – Lips can become swollen since aligners can exert some pressure on them. The lip becomes inflamed due to the pressure and swells up. 
  • Gum problems – Clear aligners can cause gum problems like bleeding and swelling. Aligners put pressure on the gum and, over time, can weaken the roots of your teeth. 
  • Other concerns – some people reported soreness and breakouts on the tongue, feeling nauseous, dryness of the mouth and headaches. 

How Long Is The Treatment?

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The length of an invisible aligner plan varies from person to person. Just like fingerprints, everyone has a unique mouth. It is difficult to say how long exactly your treatment process will last. Some people that need minor corrections may stop treatment as soon as six months, while others with more complex issues may be required to wear them for up to 24 months. 

However, the average treatment period is 12 months. There are a few factors that can prolong treatment. 

  • Large gaps in teeth – larger gaps between your teeth will take a longer time to fix. 
  • Crowded teeth – Depending on your teeth position and the amount of crowding you have, the longer the treatment will be.
  • Age – Teenagers experience faster results than adults. 
  • How well you adhere to your treatment plan – follow your orthodontist instructions and wear your aligners at least 22 hours per day. 

Final Thoughts 

Clear aligners are a great alternative to braces and work great for those who are not comfortable with the idea of having conventional braces. Clear aligners may not work for everyone, but to determine if you are a candidate, visit any board-certified dentist in your area. They will need to examine your teeth, address the issues you have and figure out the best orthodontic treatment to lead to an amazing smile.

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