Crooked teeth? Go straight!
So your teeth are crooked or crowded, and you would like to improve that, but can’t bear the thought of braces…especially if you are an adult remembering the complaints of your friends when you were a teen.
First, I will do a Public Service Announcement in Support of Braces. The technology of braces has changed so dramatically from the braces of our youth. They are smaller, the wires move the teeth much more comfortably, and it is easier to keep them clean than ever before. I had braces myself for the first time at 40 years old, and I was pleasantly surprised at how little of an issue it was to wear them. The appearance for the 16 months I wore them did leave something to be desired, but I valued the benefits of the treatment. I am very pleased now with the results of the treatment I had. Also, the disclaimer here is that my husband is an orthodontist, and a really good one in my humble opinion. He is extremely open-minded and has embraced new methods of treating crowded, crooked teeth, as have I.
Did you know that we now have the technology to move teeth without braces?
Enter Clear Aligners! With a series of clear plastic aligners that are much less visually obvious than traditional orthodontic brackets, you can have the straighter teeth you have always wanted. Impressions and photographs are made of your teeth, and these are sent to Align Technology Inc (the company that makes Clear Aligners). Once there, a computer will determine how many “aligners” or appliances will be required to make the necessary tooth movements, as these aligners are swapped for new ones every 1-2 weeks. Your dentist will verify the estimate the computer makes, adding any needed changes, before your aligners are created. The aligners are delivered to your dentist, and you have visits every few weeks, just like with traditional orthodontic treatment, to receive and verify the fit of the next sets of aligners. Sometimes during treatment small changes are made to the shape of the teeth to slightly narrow them, or adding small amounts of filling material to improve the work of the aligner.
When would I have to wear aligners?
Aligners must be worn ALL THE TIME, except for eating and brushing your teeth. Care must be taken to keep your teeth clean, especially after your meals and before replacing your aligners in your mouth. The nice thing about aligners is that you can leave them out if you have a big event (such as a wedding or a big business presentation); this is also the potential downfall. If you start leaving out your aligners for several hours, or forget to put them in before you go to work…they won’t work so well, your treatment time will be delayed, and you will be disappointed. This is the biggest problem we face with using Clear Aligners for our patients, so we have the ensure that our patients are totally committed to treatment before starting. Clear Aligners works well when you wear them exactly as prescribed.
Can Clear Aligners do everything that braces can do?
Many of the same tooth movements made by traditional braces can also be made with Clear Aligners, but certain movements are easier than others. In my opinion, where Clear Aligners really shines is in “limited tooth movements” taking approximately one year or less. These are the types of treatments that can be well-suited for a general dentist to perform. However, in very challenging cases it is wise to consult with a trained orthodontist, which is what we do in our office. If we feel that treatment would take much more than one year, I will refer that patient to an orthodontist for either Clear Aligners treatment, or treatment with conventional braces.
How can I find out if Clear Aligners is right for me?
Check to see if your dentist offers Clear Aligners, and if not you can meet with an orthodontist in your area. If you live in the Ottawa area, we would be happy to meet with you for a consultation to discuss the possibilities!