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Clear Aligners – Invisalign?

Clear aligners are a removable dental appliance that are designed to straighten the teeth in a shorter period of time compared to traditional fixed ‘train-track’ braces. The aligners are removable […]

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Clear aligners are a removable dental appliance that are designed to straighten the teeth in a shorter period of time compared to traditional fixed ‘train-track’ braces.

The aligners are removable trays made of a customised plastic material that are designed to be worn for a period of 22 hours per day and they are removed only when eating or drinking. The benefit of the aligners is that they are less visible than traditional braces, more in keeping with adult lifestyles, and the treatment period is shorter.

Smile Direct Club

There are several different brands that are offering this treatment. One popular brand being Smile Direct Club, which is a part of Teledentistry. This meaning there is no dentist led examination or physical evaluation involved in the process. This can have a significant impact on patients’ treatment. Firstly, certain health conditions can be worsened by aligner treatment, such as gum disease, tooth decay or tooth wear. If you have a history of any of these conditions, the input of a dentist is critical to ensure safety during aligner treatment.

Teledentistry sometimes relies on the patient taking their own impressions/moulds, leading to a risk of errors when submitting the data to the aligner manufacturer. Dentists train for 5-7 years to learn how to take accurate scans/impressions, and this treatment step is challenging to complete without any training. Another downside is that there is no dentist to monitor your progress during treatment, as all appointments are done remotely every 90 days. Peer-reviewed evidence from Kravitz et al shows that aligners are only 50% effective in the planned tooth movements. This means that any movement simulation will only achieve 50% in reality. Dentists use several methods to improve the efficiency of movements, such as interproximal reduction, to create space for crowded teeth as well as attachments that ensure strong engagement with the associated tooth. Finally, retainers are critical at the end of aligner treatment, and these are often in the form of fixe wire retainers, which cannot be placed without the input of a dentist.

Whilst there are a considerable number of negatives to TeleDentistry, a lot of people opt for this for a number of reasons. One being that there is no commitment to dental visits and for our everyday busy work/life schedules this works well. The cost is significantly cheaper in comparison to competitors such as Invisalign or traditional fixed braces. Lastly the average treatment time is around 5-6 months as Smile Direct Club aligners only aim to rectify minor issues, they are not designed for more complex tooth movements.

Invisalign

Invisalign as it is a brand that is recognised by dentists globally and leads with an impeccable reputation. Invisalign is owned by Align Tech who are an American Manufacturing Company of digital scanners and clear aligners. The brand owners are not dental professionals, however had the idea for Invisalign came from a patient Zia Chishti who felt that teeth could be moved with a clear plastic aligner instead of a train-track brace.

Invisalign is an appliance that uses clear aligners designed on the prescription of a dentist and the input required involved a series of photographs, radiographs and other diagnostic data. The dentist designs the teeth and bite scheme according to your goals for improvement and the aligners manufactured to this prescription. Any tooth extractions or interproximal reduction is built into the plan to create accuracy in the proposed movements.

You would be required to visit your dentist every 4-10 weeks to make adjustments and to assess if your movements are ‘tracking’. Tracking is a technical term for how teeth move in reality (clinically) versus what the digital design proposed in simulation. After your alignment is complete, retainers in the form of fixed wires and removable versions are made. This prevents your teeth from moving back their original position.

Clear Correct

This is also a leading brand in the clear aligner market. The brand owners are a company called Straumann who have been unshakable as one of the world’s largest dental manufacturers of dental implants. Their position as dentist focused company makes them more likely to succeed long-term within the dental aligner industry. Their method for tooth movements and aligner manufacturing is identical to Invisalign and the only difference is their branding and customer/dentist interface.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to straighten teeth?

Clear aligners are a removable dental appliance that are designed to straighten the teeth in a shorter period of time compared to traditional fixed ‘train-track’ braces.

The aligners are removable trays made of a customised plastic material that are designed to be worn for a period of 22 hours per day and they are removed only when eating or drinking. The benefit of the aligners is that they are less visible than traditional braces, more in keeping with adult lifestyles, and the treatment period is shorter.

Are clear aligners painful?

Any orthodontic tooth movements whether it being a fixed or removable appliance can cause some discomfort at the beginning of treatment. However, after a few weeks any pain should subside. After each dental visit it is normal to feel some aches or some pains however this will quickly become manageable, and some people do not feel any discomfort at all.

The reason for the discomfort is the ‘stretch’ associated with the dental tooth ligament when moving a tooth. As the ligament stretches and moves within the jaw bone, remodelling occurs, which can cause pain.

How long does Invisalign/Clear Correct take?

The treatment duration for clear aligners can vary from around 3-12 months depending on the complexity of the case. For example, for someone with minor crowding on their teeth the treatment will be significantly shorter than someone with severe crowding on their teeth as it will take longer to rectify this.

Will my teeth move back after straightening?

After clear aligner treatment the teeth can be vulnerable to moving back to their positions. In order to prevent this, you will be provided with a fixed and removable retainer to wear at night to keep your teeth from moving. We advise to wear these continuously to prevent any relapse.

How do I know if Invisalign will work for me?

It is highly encouraged to see a dentist for a full comprehensive assessment to determine if Invisalign will be suitable for you. The dentist will not only assess the current position of your teeth and bite but will also assess your oral health to confirm if you are suitable.

What does Invisalign cost in London?

At Marylebone Smile Clinic, Invisalign costs £3495, which includes your retainers and whitening.

Clear Correct vs Invisalign – which is better?

Both are excellent systems with a proven track record of consistent manufacturing quality. As with most tools and systems in dentistry, the person and clinician who you are seeing for the treatment will dictate the success of the aligner treatment, not the brand of system.

We always recommend doing thorough research and finding an experienced cosmetic dentist for elective procedures.

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