Alignment and bite correct have historically been corrected using orthodontic braces. A modern, convenient alternative is a successive series of trays made of clear plastic that hug the teeth perfectly. There are a number of companies we work with to provide this service, including Invisalign and ClearCorrect. A notable feature of this method of orthodontic alignment is that it allows us to use a computer program to see the expected end result.
The treatment consists of a series of custom made plastic trays, each of which a patient wears for two weeks. Each successive tray moves the teeth by 0.2 millimeters towards their correct placement. The number of trays depends on the complexity of the treatment and typically varies from ten to twenty; most patients complete their treatment in under one year. The trays are 0.2 millimeters in thickness, allowing them to be unnoticeable yet rigid enough to move the teeth. Clear aligners need to be worn for 21 hours a day, the remaining 3 hours are allotted for eating and maintenance of oral hygiene. When not being worn on the teeth, aligners should be stored in a designated case.
When comparing Invisalign with traditional braces there are several advantages to keep in mind:
1. Brackets can scratch lips, cheeks, and tongue while clear aligners do not
2. Brackets require regular planned visits to the orthodontist. Additionally, braces frequently detach from teeth and require in-office repeated cementation. This is not an issue experienced with Invisalign
3. Braces are evident while Invisalign trays are unnoticeable
4. Braces can make it difficult to upkeep oral hygiene—specifically flossing. Patients with Invisalign do not experience this issue, as the trays can be removed for brushing and flossing.
5. For patients considering whitening their teeth: Invisalign trays can double as a whitening tray if filled with whitening material
Following alignment, teeth have a tendency to shift back to their original position, to prevent this a set of retainers is to be worn by the patient. The retainers are made of the same material as the aligners and are also undetectable. For the first six months following treatment, retainers should be worn all day with the exception of time spent eating or maintaining oral hygiene—the more the better. Following the initial six months, retainers are worn at night. We recommend our patients to have a spare set of retainers, in case of loss or damage.