These days, everyone is looking for a newer, better way to do things. And when it comes to straightening teeth, the braces of old left much to be desired.
Aside from the obvious discomfort, traditional braces often lead to difficulties brushing and eating certain foods. Additionally, many people simply feel self-conscious about the appearance of metal wires stuck to their teeth.
There’s been a wide acceptance of a new method however – the use of clear aligners to straighten teeth. Along with this acceptance however, comes questions from patients about the pros and cons of these aligners.
Here’s what to consider when discussing these treatments with your patients.
Benefits of Clear Aligners
Clear aligners provide a legitimate opportunity for dentists to improve their patients’ overall oral health.
These almost-invisible devices serve the same purpose as braces: slowly moving teeth into more optimal positions. Made out of a strong plastic, aligners should create a healthy bite, meaning the top and bottom teeth fit as they should.
When compared to traditional wire braces, clear aligners offer several advantages for patients.
First, these custom-fitted guides are almost completely invisible. This provides patients with a more positive experience, not worrying about those awkward moments when someone learns they have less-than-perfect teeth.
Second, clear aligners are removeable, valuable for a variety of reasons. Patients can take them out as needed to eat, brush, or in certain social situations.
In addition, clear aligners straighten in half the time of traditional braces.
With all this being said, these alternatives to braces aren’t for everyone, and special considerations need to be taken even for those who use them.
Recently, a webinar led by Dr. R. Bruce McFarlane, an American Board Certified Orthodontist, offered some great insight on the use of clear aligners.
In it, he urged dentists to keep a few thoughts in mind when deciding whether to accept a case or not.
First, periodontics can be a concern. As McFarlane explained, clear aligners have the potential to“cause or exacerbate bone-level issues.”
Also, many patients view a clear aligner as an elixir; after years of dealing with misaligned teeth, patients want healthy teeth and a great smile. However, anytime emotional needs are in play, it’s possible the patient won’t be satisfied.
Although faster than traditional braces, patients sometimes have unrealistic expectations.
McFarlane urges to plan for a roughly 18-month process for the most challenging of cases. While this isn’t necessarily a drawback, it might not align with what patients had in mind.
Patients need to know that they must wear their appliance for 20-22 hours per day for effective results, and should anticipate getting a new aligner every 3-4 weeks.
They also need to accept that refinements could be necessary in the future. McFarlane noted that “clenchers and grinders” are the patients who might find themselves eventually needing additional work.
Clear Aligners in Action
McFarlane also shared an example of one particularly challenging case.
In it, more than 21 aligning segments were incorporated in realigning the patient’s mouth.
He ultimately needed to “incorporate intrusion of the posterior teeth, retraction and a little extrusion” of the anterior teeth in order to complete an almost 18-month realigning of the patient’s teeth.
In the end, the patient enjoyed all the benefits of clear aligners.
Patients with moderate crowding or spacing of teeth are ideal candidates for clear aligners. So, too, are those men and women with moderate deep or open bites.
Clear aligners are a great choice for many patients. With speedier results and the ability for temporary removal, the convenience is undeniable. Add in the fact that they’re nearly invisible, and it’s no wonder they’re gaining such a wide audience.
Talk with your patient about available options, choices, and what they can expect from the process. Once all considerations have been taken into account, the best treatment plan can be put into place and leave your patients smiling.
First Choice Dental Lab
First Choice Dental Lab is prepared to handle all your dental appliance needs. From nightguards to implants, and everything in between, we’ve got you covered.
Give us a try today, and we’ll help give you a reason to smile!
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