Clear Aligners: Are They Right For Me?

The universe prefers chaos in all things, and that includes your teeth. We spend time trying to make everything straight, but the universe strives to push everything back to chaos.


We all want a beautiful smile and that starts with straight teeth. If you remember from our last blog straightening your teeth is the first part of our three-part process to a beautiful smile. One popular option for straightening your teeth is clear aligners. Family Dentistry of Lakewood would like to help you better understand clear aligners.


What are clear aligners?

Clear aligners are a treatment alternative to traditional braces that corrects misaligned or crooked teeth. They are a series of hard, clear plastic devices custom-fitted to your teeth, created to slowly move the teeth in small increments until the desired position is achieved.


You need to wear your aligners for at least 20 hours a day and each set of aligners for about two weeks. The length of treatment depends on your teeth and the goals you want to achieve.


Once you've decided to improve your smile, call 253.584.3121 and schedule a free consultation to discuss clear aligners in-depth and see samples. Then, if you choose to move forward, we schedule an appointment to take photos, panoramic images, and impressions. This appointment is $300 and goes toward the cost of your aligners. The cost of treatment can vary, but typically it's around $5000. Usually your insurance will pay for a portion of the process.


We complete a workup model and send it to SureSmile® for an optimized treatment plan. Your specific plan will give us an idea of the length of your treatment, showing us the movement of your teeth week by week. In addition, the SureSmile® software superimposes your photo to consider your natural facial features when planning the final tooth position.


You receive a new set of clear aligners every two weeks. Each tray is positioned to where the teeth should be in two weeks, so the first three days of wearing the aligners will be the most uncomfortable as the teeth settle.


A patient who is a good candidate for clear aligners is someone who:

  • Had braces previously

  • Wasn't compliant after braces and are in a rebound phase

  • Has gaps and spacing

  • Has never had braces, but some spacing between their teeth

  • Needs an implant or minor tooth movement for a bridge

  • Has anterior crowding or spacing and teeth crossing over each other


A patient who is not a good candidate for clear aligners is someone who:

  • Has active gum disease

  • Has unfilled cavities

  • Has poor oral hygiene

  • Has skeletal issues

  • Children and non-compliant teens



What are the advantages?


Help with hygiene and overall health

It can be challenging to get a brush to specific areas with crowded and overlapping teeth, and plaque can accumulate and be dangerous for oral health.

 

Occlusion

Occlusion is the way your teeth meet when your jaws bite together. Your front teeth are never supposed to be touching; their primary purpose is to sheer food and give you a pleasant smile. Back teeth are the workhorse and protect the front teeth and do 85-90% of the chewing.

 

Prepare teeth for veneers or implants

Clear aligners will prepare the teeth for other procedures. For example, when people want veneers or implants, their teeth need to be in the correct position, with the back teeth hitting first.

 

Increased confidence

The ability to smile without fear or doubt is terrific for our confidence. Clear aligners can help you feel more secure when smiling and talking to others.

 


What are the disadvantages?


Will not be successful if someone is non-compliant

 

Teeth will not move if you have implants or a long-term root canal (over 5-10 years)



What clear aligners does FDOL use and why?

There are a variety of clear aligner companies on the market. However, all the companies have the same concept; to straighten your teeth. At Family Dentistry of Lakewood, our clear aligner of choice is SureSmile® and here's why:

  • They are backed by more than 20 years of digital planning expertise

  • Digitally analyzed by lab specialists

  • Shorter treatment time

  • 50% fewer refinements than other aligners

  • Durability and outstanding fit

We discourage our patients away from at-home clear aligners. You will benefit more from your dentist monitoring your teeth and ensuring no long-term damage. We will see you every 8-10 weeks when you work with us to monitor your teeth's movement.



Important things to know before you choose clear aligners

  • Be patient with the process

  • Be compliant and change them as instructed

  • Expect headaches and tooth sensitivity

  • Expect pain the first couple of days when changing to a new set of aligners

  • Brush your aligners daily

  • Wear your aligners 20-22 hours a day

  • Remove aligners to eat meals, snacks, drink, or chew gum

  • Don't use your aligners if they are cracked or broken

  • You may develop a lisp when you wear your aligners

  • Your teeth may feel pressure or looseness

  • Be compliant with your appointments with your dentist



Hopefully, this information has given you a good picture of clear aligners and if you are a good candidate. Please call our office at 253-584-3121 to get started on your journey to a straighter smile!


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