Each aligner repositions the teeth by fractions of a millimeter. Patients wear aligners for a period of one to two weeks for safe, stable tooth movement. Over time, the tiny increments of movement add up to the full repositioning of the teeth. The aligners are removable by the patient, which is both an advantage and a disadvantage. It provides the advantages of making it easy to effectively clean the teeth and giving the patient the option to remove them for special occasions (i.e.
weddings, photo shoots, speeches). The disadvantage in their removability is that the responsibility for proper tooth movement lies with the patient. Put simply, if you do not wear them for the prescribed time, you will not move the teeth.
Not every patient is a candidate for orthodontic treatment with clear aligners. Dr. Robirds will assess your situation and inform you of your treatment options. Our goal is for every patient to achieve his or her smile goals while maintaining a healthy mouth.
Life with Invisalign
Invisalign is a brand of clear removable aligners designed to gradually straighten your teeth. Each aligner places a precise amount of pressure at a specific angle to achieve minor tooth movements in increments of fractions of a millimeter. Dr. Robirds will create a unique and comprehensive treatment plan that uses a series of clear aligners to reposition your teeth. Before committing to Invisalign treatment, it’s important to be aware of some modifications you may need to make to your day-to-day life:
- To ensure effective and efficient results, you must wear your aligners for at least 22 hours per day.
- After removing the aligners to eat and drink, be sure to brush your teeth thoroughly before wearing them again. Stains absorbed by the plastic aligner material can be transferred as dark spots on your teeth. And food caught between the teeth after a meal will be caught in place by your aligners leading to plaque formation.
- While wearing your aligners you should only drink plain water. Never eat with Invisalign trays in your mouth.
- Keep consistent appointments– typically every six weeks, so we can monitor your progress. Frequently missing appointments can delay or alter your treatment plan.
- Once you complete treatment, keep your smile straight for a lifetime by wearing your retainer every night!
Tips for Parents
Young people in need of aligners will likely feel nervous, excited, confused, or indifferent. Committing to orthodontic treatment can be overwhelming for many kids, that’s why it’s important for parents to be there for support and to help our kids adjust.
- Encourage them to ask questions. Even the most outgoing patients can be shy once they get to our office. Be sure to discuss the treatment plan with your child so they feel comfortable and aware of what’s happening. And if there are any questions you don’t know the answer to, just call us!
- Help ease their discomfort. Initially after aligners are put on and immediately after tightening, aligners can cause some pain or discomfort. We recommend having some over-the-counter pain relief medication or an ice pack ready before these appointments.
- Encourage great hygiene habits. Poor oral hygiene while wearing aligners can delay treatment and cause serious harm to the health of your child’s mouth. It’s vital that kids brush and floss often, and with the proper technique. Support your child by reminding them to brush and by keeping these dangerous foods out of the house until treatment is over.
- Remind them of the benefits. Wearing aligners isn’t always easy, and for young people, an 18-month treatment plan can sometimes feel like forever. Remind your child that treatment is only temporary and their beautiful new smile is waiting at the finish line!
Brushing & Flossing Techniques
Maintaining proper brushing and flossing techniques when wearing aligners or clear aligners is crucial. Without effective oral hygiene, the foods you eat will get caught in your teeth or appliances and lead to plaque buildup that can cause staining, cavities, or gingivitis and decalcification. Also be sure to ask about our Orthodontic Hygiene Program to ensure you’re getting regular professional cleanings and feedback on your brushing and flossing technique.
To keep your oral health in good condition while wearing aligners, here are some at-home tips we recommend:
- Brush and floss after every meal. Regular plaque removal is key to achieving a beautiful, healthy smile and obtaining optimal results at the end of your orthodontic treatment.
- Brush with the proper technique. When wearing aligners, it’s important to spend the time and diligence to properly clean your teeth. Whether using a manual or electric toothbrush, be sure to tilt your brush at a 45 degree angle from your gumline angling down towards your brackets so your bristles are underneath the wire. Move the brush in small circular motions over each tooth at the gumline, then repeat the motion below your brackets with the toothbrush angled upwards.
- Floss with the proper technique. Traditional dental floss can be difficult to use for our patients wearing aligners, but it’s crucial to remove the plaque that may be caught between your teeth or brackets. Consider a water flosser or floss threader to make flossing easier. Or try a specialized floss stick for aligners. We recommend the Platypus Orthodontic Flosser sold in stores or online.
- Avoid snacking. If you must have a quick bite between meals, choose good-for-your-teeth options, like lean proteins, cheeses, and raw vegetables. Be sure to avoid these foods that can damage your aligners!
- Use a fluoridated toothpaste or mouth rinse to protect and strengthen your teeth.