An unappealing smile can be upsetting for lots of reasons. Crooked teeth may make you self-conscious, as well as increase your risk for gum disease, tooth decay, uneven tooth wear, and jaw pain. Metal braces have long been an effective way to correct orthodontic problems, but this solution can be undesirable for many patients. At Smiles 4 Life Orthodontics in Park Slope, Dr. Baharak offers a fantastic alternative to traditional braces: clear aligners.
Traditional braces are made up of brackets, bands, and archwires that fill your mouth with metal. The brackets are bonded to your teeth to remain in place throughout treatment, and the bands attach to your back teeth hold the archwires in place. The archwires run across all your teeth, attached to the brackets by elastic O-rings. The job of the wires is to move and stabilize your teeth. In some patients, additional elements are used like rubber bands and springs to aid in the effectiveness of treatment. Successful for teens through adults, metal braces do their job but can be an embarrassing nuisance. Instead of turning away from orthodontics to avoid traditional braces, clear aligners have become a go-to solution for many patients.
There are no metal pieces in clear aligners. The clear plastic trays sit over your teeth comfortably to gradually move them into better positions. The aligners are custom-made by Dr. Baharak using 3D virtual impressions of your mouth. This highly advanced method ensures a good, comfortable, and secure fit for the aligners throughout your treatment. Since they are not bonded to your teeth, patients may remove the aligners as desired.
You won’t just get one set of aligners for the whole treatment process. Dr. Baharak will provide you with a series of aligner sets that you’ll progress through over time. Each set is designed to be worn for about two weeks, and then you’ll switch to the next set in the series. The hard plastic gradually shifts your teeth, so each aligner set is slightly different as they continue to transform your smile. The aligners place pressure on your teeth, which in turn pressures the periodontal ligaments that hold your teeth in place. The ligaments loosen and the aligners guide your teeth into better positions, and then holds them there while they stabilize. The aligners should be worn 20 to 22 hours every day to give you the best results in the shortest time.
The clear aligner process is completely computerized, eliminating the unpredictability associated with traditional braces. The digital images taken by Dr. Baharak of your mouth are used to develop your customized aligners using computer software. The software even allows you to see the how your treatment plan will play out, allowing you to see your treatment at every stage. You’ll know what your smile will look like at the end of treatment!
Metal braces may not be a hindrance for some patients, but others would like to avoid the visibility of orthodontic treatment. This is especially true with older teens and adults. Clear aligners solve that problem because they are nearly invisible in your mouth. Your confidence will soar when you undergo treatment without others even realizing it.
Traditional braces have lots of restrictions on what you should eat so that you don’t damage the wires and brackets. It’s a big hassle when you break a wire or dislodge a bracket – and you may even delay your treatment progress – so sticking with the recommended diet is important. Since they are removeable, there are no limitations on what you can eat or drink with clear aligners. You can enjoy your normal diet because you’ll remove the aligners every time you eat.
You should brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss once a day for good oral health. When wearing traditional braces, hygiene becomes a big challenge to work around all that metal and ensure that your teeth and gums are free from food debris and plaque buildup. You don’t have to worry about these concerns as much with clear aligners. You’ll remove them to perform your normal hygiene routine, and then clean the aligners with a toothbrush and toothpaste before replacing them in your mouth. Being able to continue with normal hygiene tasks reduces your risk of cavities and gum disease. Another advantage is that clear aligners don’t have the risk for developing white spots on your teeth, which is a hazard with traditional braces if cleaning is not sufficient. You can also avoid the risks of uneven tooth wear and jaw pain by not grinding your teeth, as clear aligners cover your teeth like a mouth guard would and protect you from the effects of teeth grinding.
Clear aligners eliminate some of the complaints about discomfort associated with traditional braces. There are no wire tightenings that cause pain each time. You might feel slight pressure when you switch to a new set of aligners, but it’s mild and dissipates quickly. The biocompatible plastic of the aligners does not irritate your mouth, making a comfortable experience. You also don’t have to deal with wires poking your gums or rough metal brackets causing irritation.
Playing sports is no problem with aligners because you can remove them and put in a regular sports mouth guard as desired. Wearing a mouth guard is absolutely necessary with traditional braces to protect yourself from injuries, which can be difficult to fit comfortably over braces.
You can expect a good 12 to 24 months (or more) for traditional braces to fully transform your smile. Every four weeks or so you’ll have to visit the office for an adjustment, which adds up to lots of visits to the orthodontist. Your overall treatment time with clear aligners is shorter, typically ranging from 9 to 15 months. Although each patient is different, most see results in less than one year. Also, you only need to visit Smiles 4 Life Orthodontics every 6 to 10 weeks, leaving you with more time to enjoy your daily activities.