What are Clear aligners ?
As we are all aware, braces for the treatment of uneven teeth, teeth with gaps in between, jutting out, or, in the wrong direction, has traditionally been associated with a "tin - grin" or a "metallic smile".
Advancement in technology came to the rescue of those who needed braces, but did not want the metal display on their teeth and in their smiles, in the form of Ceramic Braces. Ceramic braces did reduce the display of metal, though the wire was still visible.
The digital era revolutionized how braces can be designed, and custom made braces, which could be fixed on the inside surface of teeth - Invisible braces, came out with a bang. Though variable, a certain degree of initial discomfort is associated with it, especially on the tongue.
Perhaps the best that digital technology has to offer, in the field of orthodontics, to date, is Clear Aligners. Clear aligners are CAD CAM designed polymer (plastic) braces, which are transparent and cover the teeth from all sides, and apply pressure on select points to move teeth in the desired direction.
Orthodontic treatment with Clear Aligners have the triple advantage of being invisible when on teeth, removed while having food, with the option to keep it off the teeth for those special occasions.
Why should one opt for Clear Aligners ?
- No more "tin-grin", "metallic smile" or display of wire, or irritation on the tongue/gums.
- The aligner is put on and removed as easily as one would put on, or, remove a hat from one's head.
- Even when on the teeth, clear aligners are not at all noticeable.
- Takes the least time to adapt to, compared to any other type of braces.
- No diet restrictions.
- Can be removed and kept aside, for those special occasions.
- Fewer follow up visits with the orthodontist.
- At treatment initiation itself, one has an exact idea of the number of weeks the treatment will last.
How can one get the Aligners?
- The first step would be to visit an Orthodontist.
- The Orthodontist would prepare the necessary records - teeth models, photographs, x-ray pictures, and conduct a case study analysis to assess the ease/effort with which the case can be treated with clear aligners.
- The next step would be to prepare a database of teeth shape, size and angulations to decide upon the best path towards a beautiful smile. For the same, teeth are scanned, or measurements of teeth are made in the traditional manner, but with special materials. Those whose teeth are scanned get to see a simulated treatment result, immediately.
- The scanned data, or the teeth measurements, along with the records and specific instructions from doctor, regarding the type, direction and quantum of individual tooth movement, are sent to the data processing centre (DPC).
- The DPC reverts with a simulated road map of the treatment (ClinChek).
- The doctor assesses the ClinChek and either approves it in consultation with the patient, or, asks for further changes till the Clinchek shows exactly what the doctor sees as the correct treatment outcome.
- Once Clinchek is approved by the doctor, the aligners are delivered within 2 to 3 weeks.
Why Invisalign ?
With a database of over 4 million treated cases, Invisalign is the world leader in this technology. Making the best available in India, in November 2106, Invisalign launched I-Tero scan of teeth. Now, by simply scanning the teeth surface, just like a bar code scanner, we can prepare a digital 3-D model of the teeth, instead of the physical plaster model. The biggest advantage of the ITero scan is that, once the teeth scan is completed, the patient gets to see an algorithmically determined treatment outcome, immediately.
While there are other players in the market that offer similar & “economical” option, the design & comfort of the Invisalign aligners based on their research and database, makes it incomparable to others.
Most common myth with Clear Aligners
MYTH: It is so easy to get it done. Any dental professional can take the teeth scan/measurements & send it to the lab for aligner fabrication.
FACT: The myth above, is actually a fact. The algorithmic calculations based on the database with the aligner company, can provide a solution to the problem with which you have approached the dentist.
However, is it the solution suggested by a computer software for the problem, the best option, or, is there a better solution available?
This is where the skills & experience of the Orthodontist come into play. Based on the information the orthodontist gets from the patient records, he/she decides upon a treatment plan, which focuses on treating the cause of the situation, wherever possible, rather than just the effect and is less invasive. Accordingly, he/she gets the aligners manufactured, as per that plan.
Aligner can be compared to a state-of-the-art mountain bike. The best of mountain bikes can be a disaster in any inexperienced hand. An experienced biker, however, knows the strengths & lacunae of the bike and decides the best path up the hill.
The Orthodontists have an edge over general dentists and nonorthodontist dental surgeons, when it comes to orthodontic treatment, perse, as they receive an additional three years of training on “riding the mountain bike” after their basic graduation and have been “riding the various models of mountain bikes” on a regular basis. They are the ones most likely to know the best path up the hill !!
Life with aligners
Maintaining excellent oral hygiene is so much easier with aligners, as they simply have to be removed, while eating and drinking. One can have cold water or normal water with the aligners on the teeth. With no diet restrictions, patients can eat & drink whatever they desire, clean their teeth thereafter & put the aligner back.
On an average, minimum 20 to 22 hours a day, of aligner wear is recommended, for effective results.
With aligners, the period of adjustment to pain and discomfort, hardly matters, as they are removable. There may be some pressure around teeth but certainly no discomfort on adjacent soft tissues. If there, it is usually transient and patients are generally able to adapt much easily, occasionally with the help of mild painkillers.
How can I add a shine to my earlier silver dental filling?
Silver amalgam fillings, which are composed of 50% mercury and 50% silver alloy, eventually need to be replaced. It may surprise you to know that the average life span of a silver filling is five to eight years. Your dentist can tell you when they appear to NEED to be replaced due to leakage, breakdown or recurrent decay.
If your concern is strictly COSMETIC, there are many new methods available to replace the fillings with beautiful, functional long lasting restorations.
Such things as white filling materials, porcelain inlays, crowns and veneers may be used to give you the smile you are seeking.
There is currently a great deal of interest in new reinforced hybrid materials. These beautiful resin materials may be reinforced with fibers, similar to fiberglass, and used in very conservative inlays and bridges without having to grind away a whole healthy tooth.
What is teeth whiteness?
For your information, there are many products and techniques available. Some work well and others not so well. The various over the counter products give the least predictable results.
To get a really great result you should probably use one of the products sold through dental offices which utilize custom made trays for home application of a bleaching gel.
What is laser whitening?
With this method a laser is used as a light source to activate the bleaching gel which is applied to your teeth in the dental office. It may be necessary to use the at home trays in addition to this initial lengthy treatment. Side effects can include sensitivity to treated teeth.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are a wonderful way to replace missing teeth when certain conditions exist. Such things as your overall general health and the length of time you have been missing your teeth must be considered. The replacement of missing teeth using dental implants frequently requires a team approach.
After your dentist does a thorough examination and treatment plan the surgical phase of treatment takes place. In most cases a periodontist or an oral surgeon will put the implant(s), the artificial root(s) into the jaw. When healing is complete, usually after 4-6 months, the tooth or bridge segment can be placed on top of the healed implants by a general dentist or a prosthodontist. Some dentists are trained to place the surgical part of the implant as well as the prosthetic or tooth part.
You should ask your dentist if you are a good candidate for implants and ask for a referral if he or she doesn't do them.
How do I choose the right brush?
The brand of the toothbrush is not nearly as critical as the type of bristle, the size and shape of the head and how frequently you replace your brush. We recommend a soft bristled brush with a small head. The soft bristles are most important for the health of your gums. A small head allows you to get around each tooth more completely and is less likely to injure your gums. Daily frequency of brushing and replacement with a new brush are much more important issues than the brand you choose.