The Clear Alternative
For years stainless steel braces were the only way to straighten your teeth but plastic dental aligners, introduced in the 1990s, have become an increasingly popular alternative used by millions.
Clear aligners provide a more discreet way to achieve a healthy bite and improve your smile. Because you can remove them to eat, there are not the same restrictions with sticky, crunchy, and hard foods that are associated with traditional braces. Shaped to fit your teeth, orthodontic aligners apply light pressure to reposition your teeth over time. (The American Association of Orthodontists provides a helpful comparison of braces versus clear aligners.)
But what exactly are clear orthodontic aligners? Should I buy them online? How long do I need to wear them? Maybe you’re curious about dental aligners or have seen advertisements for them but still have a lot of questions.
Do dental aligners work and what does the process involve?
Aligners, when your treatment is supervised under the direction and care of a licensed orthodontist, can be an effective treatment for patients with very minor malocclusions such as those with one or two crooked teeth, minimal spaces between teeth, or minor crowding.
Because correcting bite issues goes beyond repositioning the teeth you see when you smile, Dr. Piper uses diagnostic records to get a fuller picture of your entire mouth. These images help him determine which orthodontic treatment, either dental aligners or braces, is the best way to improve your smile and overall dental health. Initial consultations at either our Cordova or Midtown offices are always free and can be scheduled by calling 901.756.4316.
Once it’s determined that you’re a candidate for orthodontic aligners, images of your mouth are used to create personalized custom plastic trays that will be worn for most of the day to gently shift your teeth. Your treatment will likely require a series of aligners that will be changed out as your treatment progresses.
How long do I need to wear clear aligners?
To receive the maximum benefit and prevent regression, aligners are typically worn at least 22 hours per day and are only removed for eating, brushing, and flossing. If you take them out to eat a meal or snack, you should brush your teeth before putting them back in. Keeping them out for more than two hours a day will cause regression and work against the improvement of your bite and smile.
Even aligners are not a quick fix: treatment time with clear aligners lasts on average 12 to 18 months depending on the complexity of your alignment issues. We will work with you to schedule convenient appointments at our offices in either Midtown or Cordova.
Should I order aligners online?
Piper Orthodontics prefers to fit you for aligners made for you in our own office where Dr. Piper can guide and monitor the movement of your teeth. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that anyone considering dental aligners be evaluated by a licensed orthodontist in order to receive customized treatment that can be monitored and adjusted as needed through in-person appointments. A relationship with a Memphis orthodontist who will walk with you through every step of your treatment is critical to your overall health and success. (Here is some guidance on five things to look for in an orthodontist if you don’t currently have one.)
If you order direct-to-consumer dental appliances you may receive aligners that do not work. Dental correction is a process that involves making changes to the alignment of your teeth and jaw that should begin with a thorough evaluation and regular monitoring by a medical professional to ensure the best result. If you order an aligner online, your treatment will be completed remotely without the expertise of an orthodontist for check-ups.
Another benefit to purchasing aligners through an orthodontist is that a portion of your treatment may be covered by insurance if you have an orthodontist monitoring your care.
Can I afford invisible dental aligners?
Investing in a healthy bite and smile will lead to a lifetime of results if you are compliant with your orthodontic care including regular brushing and flossing and wearing retainers post treatment. The cost of aligners tends to be comparable to the cost of metal braces. At Piper Orthodontics, we do our best to make both invisible aligners and braces accessible by offering a variety of payment options including bank drafts, credit card payment and financing options. Additionally, many Federal Spending Accounts (FSA) will cover the cost of clear aligners.
A Trusted Memphis Orthodontist for Your Needs
We realize that the prospect of correcting your bite and achieving your best smile is an investment, and one that may seem daunting at times. Whether metal braces or clear aligners will give you the result you desire, we take pride in helping people in East Memphis create a smile they love in a way that’s convenient and affordable. To schedule your appointment, call our offices at 901.756.4316.
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