What Are Clear Aligners
InvisalignⓇ , clear aligners, serial aligners, they’re all in the category that has been made popular by the company InvisalignⓇ. InvisalignⓇ is to clear aligners as Kleenex is to tissue. The brand name of the product isn’t the most critical aspect here. Just like anything else in dentistry, maybe even in the world, your expertise in an area and understanding how to use a product as a dentist is most important. A s we’ve said before, expertise comes from experience.
We do a lot of clear aligner cases- InvisalignⓇ style cases- for our patients. Some of the benefits which many patients already know, are that you don’t need to have braces glued to your teeth. These are removable devices. Unlike braces that are there all the time, these fixed wire or straight wire braces, InvisalignⓇ aligners, or clear aligners can be removed. Some of our patients that are adults have big events or speaking engagements where they’re not able to wear them or they’d prefer not to wear them. Even when you’re going out on dates or meeting new people and in social gatherings where you’re uncomfortable having them in, you can remove them. Although, some of the other benefits are they’re clear, they’re nearly invisible.
All in all, to move your teeth is the goal, right? This is a category of orthodontics. So, within moving of the teeth. We have this straight wire category with a number of different ways of putting a fixed or bonded appliance in place to move the teeth versus these removable clear serial aligners that can be used to move the teeth. The way that it’s done nowadays, and what Invisalign really pioneered for this industry is digitizing the mouth and then utilizing digital tools to slowly move the teeth in the digital platform. Then what they did was, for every stage or step of the tooth movement, say, your tooth is over here and we want to get it to here. We can’t do that in one step. So, we have step one, step two, step three, step four, and maybe step five until everything’s straight. Then they would render the digital model or the digital version of that mouth at each of those five stages, and they would 3d print and so digitizing the mouth and manipulating in three dimensions on the computer, virtually, plus combining it with the 3d printing technology that we have today, really started to ramp up in dentistry as well. Printing those five separate models of the same patient and then developing a clear aligner for each of those stages allows the patient to have a full set of aligners that before was very manual and painstaking to do. Although, most people don’t realize that these clear aligners started as what they called serial aligners, meaning version 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. A dentist or a lab technician would actually pour a traditional stone model and cut out each of the teeth individually. Then, with glue move the teeth a little bit at a time and then make a new aligner and move the teeth. You can see and imagine how digital technologies have really made that a lot easier. Most of it’s manipulated on the computer, 3D printed, and then traditional techniques to make those what we call “suck down aligners” or templates that snap into the mouth at various stages and help to move the teeth.
So again, as far as InvisalignⓇ and benefits are concerned, certainly they’re clear. They work really well for adult patients who don’t want it known that they have braces or they’re moving their teeth. They’re convenient and they can be removed under certain circumstances for a short period of time, during the process, for specific engagements or events. By having them being able to be removed, the maintenance is also easier. You can keep your teeth healthier during that time period. Sometimes, when you have brackets attached to teeth with these wires, it’s harder to keep things clean. Flossing gets more difficult even brushing. So, those are really the three main benefits. We can list some additional benefits, but I’d like to be able to talk to you specifically because some candidates are not ideal for clear aligners.
If you’re interested in coming in for consultation to investigate whether it’s feasible, it would be available as a free consultation through our online scheduler as well.