Why Your Perfect Smile May Be Farther Away Than You Think
Straightening your teeth with clear aligners? While everyone’s smile is different, the effectiveness of your treatment depends on how well you can stick to the plan. Ignore the advice of your provider and it could cost extra time and money to achieve your perfect smile.
But many patients don’t have their doctor on call for every question that pops into their heads. Whether you live far away from your provider or ordered aligners through the mail, save yourself time and worry with answers to commonly asked questions before you start your aligner journey.So if you want to stay on track with your treatment and complete your journey in the most efficient manner possible, keep reading. Because we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about clear aligner treatment.
Everything You Need to Know About Aligners
- How Clear Aligners Work. It's serious science.
- What to Expect During Treatment. Staying on track and making sure your aligners fit.
- Relieving Invisalign Pain. If it didn't hurt, you'd wonder if it was working.
- Dealing with Bad Breath & Dry Mouth. Good oral hygiene and proper hydration.
- Cleaning Aligners Safely. It doesn't matter how clean they are, if they're damaged.
- How Long Does it Take? Generally, 6-18 months, but certain variables make a big difference.
What You Need to Know About Clear Aligners
First, know that clear aligner therapy is serious science. Your orthodontist, dentist or provider will scan your mouth and create a treatment plan for moving your teeth into their ideal position. With something so sensitive and calibrated, failing to comply with professional guidance can knock your aligners off track and significantly slow your progress.
This is serious business, straightening your teeth.
How Do Clear Aligners Work?
Clear aligners use orthodontic force to gradually move your teeth into a new position based on the treatment plan developed by you and your provider. Each set of plastic “trays” is developed using a sophisticated 3D printing technology to fit your unique straightening needs. While some people only need a simple correction, others may have crowding or spacing issues that require a higher degree of care.
Regardless of need, clear aligners can get you the results you want and are as effective (if not more) than traditional metal braces. While Invisalign does work for nearly all teeth straightening needs, some providers like at-home aligner companies may decline certain advanced cases. If your smile requires special attention (for instance, you need a tooth extracted or you have a significant overbite) then an orthodontist might be your best choice.
At-home providers are an attractive and affordable option for mild to moderate cases. The convenience of getting your aligners in the mail has been a game changer for the industry. If you are making a decision between Invisalign or an at-home provider, you need to make sure you understand what it’s going to take to achieve your ideal smile and make the best decision for you.
What to Expect During Treatment
Once you make a decision and begin the process of straightening your teeth, it’s all about staying on track with your plan and maintaining your oral hygiene, which we’ll get to in a minute. First, we want to emphasize that staying on track with your treatment is crucial, and a big part of that is making sure your aligners fit. But how do you know if your aligners fit correctly? One way is to simply assess how they feel in your mouth. Are they loose in the back? Are there gaps between the tray and a particular tooth? Or maybe they just feel crooked to you. If you have questions, it’s best to check with your provider, as poorly fitting trays can delay your progress and often require Invisalign refinements to get back on track. If you do notice gaps or loose fitting trays, try gently chewing our Invisalign mints or use your thumb to press your aligners into place.
Movemints are mints for Invisalign that seat your trays while they freshen breath & fight dry mouth!
Your aligners should feel very tight when you first put them in, to the point of even causing you some mild pain and discomfort. But failing to wear them for 22 hours each day will retard the movement of your teeth, and this can have a ripple effect on later sets of trays which you’ll change every two weeks on average. So wear your trays, make sure they track, and ease your pain with the following tips.
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How to Deal with Invisalign Discomfort
A lot of force is required to move teeth, so yes Invisalign hurts. But the longer you wear your trays, the more accustomed you’ll get to the pressure. We promise, you’ll start to feel more comfortable in time.
Until then, here are some things you can do for clear aligner comfort, starting with surprisingly effective chewing exercises. The simple act of chewing will stimulate blood flow to your teeth and gums. Not only does this produce a nice soothing effect, it can help your mouth and jaw get used to the pressure exerted on them from your aligners.
A lot of patients complain about Invisalign cutting their tongue, because the sharp and/or rough edges of the plastic trays may cause painful sores and abrasions. A peroxide-based mouthwash can help with the sores, and dental wax is a common remedy for rough spots.
Relieving Bad Breath & Dry Mouth
Bad breath and dry mouth during treatment is hard to avoid, but fortunately it can be mitigated with good oral hygiene and proper hydration. It’s also recommended that you avoid all foods and beverages while you’re wearing trays. Not that it can damage your trays (though it can), but food will get trapped in between your teeth and the plastic which creates a breeding ground for odor causing bacteria.
Make sure to floss regularly, as food particles really are public enemy #1 when it comes to bad breath. Drink a lot of water to help you through the dry mouth, and for a quick freshen up, chew on some xylitol mints. Xylitol is proven to fight dry mouth and has known oral health benefits. Movemints have a therapeutic dose of xylitol so they are a great choice for aligner patients, along with a patented groove that you can gently chew on to seat your trays
How to Clean Your Aligners
One of the most attractive characteristics of clear aligners is their near-invisibility. But they aren’t invincible, meaning that you can damage them if you aren’t careful about how you clean them. So if you want to stay invisible and invincible, learn how to clean Invisalign retainers properly.
How Long Does Invisalign Take?
Generally speaking, clear aligner therapy lasts anywhere from 6-18 months, and it depends on a few different factors. First is compliance; people who wear their aligners for 22 hours each day generally finish their treatment consistent with the anticipated timeline. The complexity of your individual smile matters too. As you might expect, the more crooked the smile, the longer it will take to straighten. And then your provider has a say in things as well. Some providers may only focus on straightening your front teeth, known as the “social six,” while others may take a more holistic approach to your smile.
Invisalign treatment is also unpredictable. Sometimes, your teeth won’t move exactly in accordance with your treatment plan. Teeth aren’t as predictable as a computer simulation afterall, so it’s good to prepare yourself for certain interventions that you and your provider may decide to pursue.
One such intervention is Invisalign attachments, a category of auxiliary implements that providers can use to give your trays extra force to move your teeth. They include buttons, attachments for rubber bands, and bite ramps, and may come at an extra cost during treatment. Also keep in mind these refinements for Invisalign are not offered by every provider, so you should ask about them when considering Invisalign vs at home providers.
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Do I Have to Wear Retainers After Treatment?
That depends...do you want your results to last? Assuming you do, then yes: you do have to wear an Invisalign retainer after treatment. It’s really no different than if you’d just spent 6 months getting in peak physical condition. If you suddenly stopped doing your exercises, eventually your body would lose the gains it had made.
Teeth are set in bone, not stone, which allows them to straighten in the first place. Retainers are necessary to keep them in place. Immediately after treatment, you should plan to wear your retainers on the same schedule as your aligner trays, meaning 22 hours per day. Eventually, under the guidance of your provider, you will be able to move to night-time only wear for the rest of your post-treatment life (or as long as you want those results to last).
Every 6 months to a year, you’ll need to buy new retainers so keep that in mind from a cost perspective. Many orthodontists offer retainer programs that can help you save costs, or if your employer offers a flexible spending account you should be able to use those funds to purchase future retainers.
What Else Do You Need to Know?
Clear aligner treatment is a lifestyle. The better you create and stick to a solid routine, the more effective your treatment will be. Doing anything you can to comply with the 22 hours of daily wear time and good hygiene habits is essential to your comfort and treatment progression.
In our experience, bad breath/dry mouth and discomfort are the factors that drive non-compliance. Learn how to clean your aligners the easy way so they don’t get cloudy, and because putting funky plastic back into your mouth is gross. Floss as often as possible, brush your teeth after every meal, and wear your trays for at least 22 hours per day. Stick to these guidelines and your aligner journey should be smooth and successful.
If you want to learn more, download our free guide to clear aligner treatment. With over 20 pages of tips, tricks, and advice, you’ll be prepared for the journey and get the most out of your investment!
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