The Science of Clear Dental Aligners

When a patient's bite is not properly aligned or their teeth are crooked, it can impact the aesthetic appearance of the smile in addition to their comfort and oral health. Thankfully, there are plenty of orthodontic treatments, such as clear dental aligners, that can help correct alignment issues. 

What Are Clear Dental Aligners?

Made from flexible plastic materials, clear dental aligners are an orthodontic treatment alternative to traditional braces. Treatment with clear aligners is commonly referred to as clear aligner therapy (CAT) and uses a custom-designed set of clear aligner trays to address minor to moderate orthodontic concerns. 

The Benefits of Clear Aligner Therapy

Orthodontic treatment with clear dental aligners offers several benefits to patients.

Primarily, CAT is a discreet treatment alternative to traditional, highly visible, metal braces because clear aligner trays are nearly invisible when worn. For this reason, it is often the preferred treatment method for older teens, adults, and professionals who might be concerned about their appearance.

Patients can continue enjoying their favorite foods during treatment with dental aligners because they can be removed during meals. This means you won't have to avoid hard or sticky foods as you would with traditional braces. 

Maintaining oral hygiene is also easier with dental aligners compared to braces because they can be removed and cleaned with a gentle brush, allowing patients to continue brushing and flossing their teeth, as usual, using regular tools. 

The Science Behind Clear Dental Aligners: How Dental Aligners Work

Clear dental aligners use a combination of biomechanics, digital imaging, computer-aided design, and precise dental appliance manufacturing to create custom treatment programs designed to address a wide array and combination of unique alignment issues in patients. 

Custom aligner trays are designed in a graduated system, with each tray shaped in a way that will guide teeth into the desired positions using gentle force that moves the teeth in just fractions of millimeters. Made from rigid, yet flexible, plastic materials, the aligners fit comfortably, yet firmly, over each arch of teeth. These plastics are comfortable enough for daily wear and gentle on soft tissues but are also strong enough to apply the required pressure and force to gradually shift the teeth into the proper positions. 

What Is Treatment With Clear Aligners Like?

Treatment with clear dental aligners begins with a consultation and imaging appointment. During this exam, three-dimensional digital images of the patient's teeth are taken using a special intraoral scanner. These images are then uploaded into a design program that creates an aligning treatment plan, desired alignment results, and the specifications for the patient's aligner system. 

The aligners are then manufactured in a dental lab. Once ready, the patient can begin wearing their aligner trays. Typically, each set of trays is worn for one to two weeks at a time before moving on to the next set of aligners in the treatment plan. The length of treatment depends on the complexity and degree of adjustment required to achieve the desired results. On average, the total length of treatment spans between three and 18 months, depending on the complexity of the case. 

Throughout treatment, patients will check in with their dentists for monitoring to ensure that the treatment is progressing as planned. After treatment has been completed, the use of a retainer or nightguard might be required to maintain treatment results by preventing the patient's teeth from shifting out of their current alignment. 

What Issues Can Clear Aligners Address?

Clear dental aligners are appropriate for addressing minor to moderate orthodontic concerns. This includes correcting certain alignment and bite issues, tooth gaps, and straightening crooked teeth. More complex or severe issues might require a multifaceted treatment approach. 

Additionally, clear aligners are not typically recommended for younger patients because they are removable, and compliance with the treatment program (wearing aligners for at least 22 hours each day) is essential to successful treatment outcomes. 

Are Clear Aligners Expensive? Braces Cost vs. Clear Aligners Cost

Considering cost, treatment with braces and treatment with clear dental aligners are not all that different. They both can range from about $2,000-$6,000. The primary differences in cost are more dependent on the complexity of the treatment needed and whether or not a patient's insurance will cover any portion of the cost. 

For purely cosmetic adjustments, it is not likely that a patient's insurance will cover the cost of clear aligners or braces. However, teeth straightening and orthodontic treatments often provide additional oral health benefits such as pain relief, minimizing wear and tear, and a reduced risk of periodontal disease and tooth decay. 

Teeth Straightening Consultations

If you've been searching for an "orthodontist near me" who can help you maximize oral comfort, function, and aesthetics with a straighter, properly aligned smile, then look no further than Aesthetic Smiles Dentistry, serving Shenandoah, Woodland, and the surrounding areas.

Our dentists specialize in helping our patients create beautiful and healthy smiles. Whether you have minor or more complex alignment issues, our dentists can work with you to design a treatment plan that will meet your needs and deliver the results you desire. To learn more about straightening your teeth with clear dental aligners or to request an orthodontic consultation, we welcome you to contact our office today. 

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