Clear aligners have been around for more than two decades and are more popular than ever among adults. While traditional braces may be effective, many people prefer to reshape their smiles discreetly. Keep reading if you'd like to take a closer look at clear teeth aligners and see just how effective they are.
What are teeth aligners?
Teeth aligners are created from molds or digital scans of your teeth. These molds are used to create several clear mouthpieces that are designed to gradually move your teeth into proper dental alignment.
How do clear aligners work?
Clear aligners are designed to apply constant pressure to the teeth, slowly moving them to a better alignment. Unlike traditional braces, which are fixed in place on the teeth, clear aligner trays can be removed as needed. These are meant to be worn for roughly 20 hours per day for the treatment to be effective. Multiple sets of aligners are created after the first consultation, and the patient wears each set of aligners for two weeks before switching to the next set in the series. This is to ensure that the experience is gradual and gentle on the teeth and gums.
Clear aligners are now used to fix a wide range of dental issues, including:
- Crooked teeth
- Crossbites, overbites and underbites
- Gaps between teeth
Are teeth aligners effective?
According to a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, both clear aligners and braces were proven effective in treating malocclusion, or 'bad bites.' The study found that clear aligners were more effective than braces in achieving segmented movement over a shorter period of time.
Clear aligners vs. braces
Benefits of aligners:
- Appearance. Aligners are less noticeable than braces due to their clear and custom-fit design, and in most cases are nearly invisible.
- Diet. Being able to remove your aligners makes for a much more pleasant meal with no restrictions on the type of foods that can be consumed.
- Hygiene. Since your aligners are removable, you can brush and floss like normal. This significantly reduces the risk of tooth decay and other dental problems.
- Appointments. Gradual alignment is pre-planned by your orthodontist, allowing you to progress with fewer visits throughout your alignment. This is a huge advantage to people who are living busy lives.
- Comfort. Generally, aligners are more comfortable than braces. While your teeth may still experience sensitivity during alignment, your lips and cheeks experience less irritation by the smooth plastic aligner than metal or porcelain braces.
Benefits of braces:
- Applicability. Aligners aren't appropriate for all situations, and braces may be a better option for these needs.
- Variety. With several metal types and even a porcelain option available, braces come in all shapes and sizes.
- Compliance. Since braces are fixed to your teeth, you can't accidentally lose them or forget to wear them.
Should you consider teeth aligners?
Using clear aligners is a great way for adults to improve their smiles discreetly. In the last several years, teeth aligners have improved significantly, even proving more effective than braces in some cases. With the growing popularity of teeth aligners, it's important to avoid companies that don’t have the proper licensing. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists has issued an advisory warning about the dangers of mail-order orthodontic care. As long as your aligners are sourced by a licensed orthodontist, they can be a highly effective alternative to traditional braces.
This article first appeared in the June 2022 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.