Clear aligners like Invisalign® can help you to get the great smile you have always wanted. Just about everyone wants a straight, healthy-looking smile, but many need a little help to get there. The thought of getting teeth straightening treatments was not as exciting a few decades ago when traditional metal braces were the norm. Thanks to clear aligners, though, many people can now get the straight teeth they have always wanted without ruining the way their teeth look during treatment.
Traditional braces work by using metal brackets cemented to the person's teeth and wires that are used to encourage the movement of teeth. Aligners also apply force to teeth, but they involve clear, rigid aligner trays to push teeth towards a better position. The patient gets a series of trays at the start of their treatment and each set further down the line takes the patient's teeth closer to the desired position. Each is worn for two weeks before being replaced.
Issues that can be treated with clear aligners
While most people would rather have clear aligners over traditional metal braces, these oral appliances are not for everyone. For starters, clear aligners need to be worn for about 22 hours each day for the treatment to be effective. Some people, particularly young patients, might not have the discipline needed for clear aligners.
These aligners are most effective when used to address orthodontic issues that are caused by the location of the patient's teeth. Teeth alignment problems that are due to the person's jaw structure do not respond to clear aligners. Expanders or metal braces might be needed in such instances.
Common issues that can be treated with clear aligners include:
- Crooked teeth: This occurs when a person's teeth are not aligned as they should. Some might be angled poorly, while others may protrude further than they should.
- Overbite: This refers to the top set of a person's teeth protruding further than they should. It can give the person the appearance of "buck teeth."
- Underbite: This refers to when the lower set of teeth protrude further than normal. It gives the person a "bulldog" look and can lead to others misunderstanding their facial expressions.
- Crossbites: This occurs when a person's upper and lower set of teeth do not come together with the upper set slightly in front of the lower set as is normal.
- Spaces between teeth: Gaps can emerge between a person's teeth due to issues like the jaw being too big.
The average length of treatment with clear aligners like Invisalign® is about a year. The more severe the patient's orthodontic issues are, the longer their treatments may take. It can be as long as two years in some cases. People with minor teeth alignment issues may complete their treatment in about 10 weeks.
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