clear aligners | how do clear aligners work | benefits of clear aligners

Clear Aligners Explained: How They Work & Their Benefits

As you consider the best way to create the smile you have always wanted, it’s hard to ignore statistics like these from BusinessWire:

  • The use of clear aligners developed by Align Technology (makers of Invisalign) has exploded, with 10.9 million people as of 2020 using them.
  • The market size in global clear aligners is expected to reach $30.2 billion by 2030.
  • Over 5 million teenagers use clear aligners.
  • By age, adults have taken the lead in the use of aligners since 2021.

With numbers like these, there must be something to the use of clear aligners in straightening and aligning teeth, both for teens and adults! There are now a number of companies manufacturing clear aligners, so you will have even more options as you consider orthodontic treatment. In this article, we will look at how aligners work and the benefits of using them.

How Do Clear Aligners Work?

It’s a good question because the aligners at first seem like ordinary pieces of clear plastic. But, clear aligners used for dental treatment are the result of years of research and technological advances. They do the hard work to straighten teeth and give millions of people the fantastic smile they want!

It was in the late 1990s that a series of removable polyurethane aligners was digitally created. This was the first orthodontic appliance to be made using transparent and thermoplastic polymeric materials. Since then, the technology has continued to evolve and improve, using new techniques such as 3D printing, to create effective aligners that sequentially move teeth. 

As far as how they work, the patient undergoing orthodontic work using clear aligners has 3D scans and digital X-rays made of their mouth at the beginning of their treatment. From those scans, a treatment plan is made and a series of clear plastic aligners are created. They are worn sequentially and changed about every two weeks, using a schedule provided by their orthodontist or dentist. The aligners are worn at all times except when eating and brushing.

Each aligner puts gentle pressure on specific teeth so that the physical positions of your teeth change.  After each aligner accomplishes its specified work, you will discard that one and move on to the next set of aligners in your plan. This continues until your treatment plan is finished and your teeth are straightened. 

Now that you know how clear aligners work, let’s talk about the benefits of using aligners.

Benefits of Clear Aligners

Metal braces have been around for hundreds of years and they do a good job of straightening and aligning teeth. However, many patients want to achieve the same result without all the metal in their mouths. The question then becomes are aligners as effective as metal braces? 

There are, indeed, some significant benefits of clear aligners, including:

Clear Aligners Are Nearly Invisible

Clear aligners are made of transparent materials so they “disappear” when you are wearing them. They fit snugly over the teeth like a mouthguard so there is no need for brackets or wires to hold them in place. Many people who wear aligners attest that others often don’t even know the aligners are there. This characteristic alone encourages millions of people to seek orthodontic treatment!

Aligners Offer Shorter Treatment Times

Traditional metal braces generally take between two to three years to affect the movement of the teeth and meet the goals outlined in your treatment plan. A major benefit of using clear aligners is a significant reduction in this treatment time, with most patients reaching their goals in nine to fifteen months. Many see their final results in less than a year. 

Clear Aligners Don’t Interfere with Your Oral Health Routines

Metal braces remain fixed to your teeth for the duration of your treatment. This makes it more difficult to brush and floss your teeth because you have to work around the brackets and wires. If you don’t make the extra effort required, your risk for cavities and gum disease increases.

Clear aligners are removable, so this problem doesn’t exist. You can brush and floss normally and keep up a thorough dental health program.

There Are No Restrictions on Foods with Clear Aligners

You can continue to eat all the foods you love! Clear aligners are worn all day and night, except when you eat or take them out to clean them or brush and floss. Fixed metal braces are often damaged by sticky or hard foods, so there are many restrictions you must observe the entire time you wear traditional braces. This is not the case with clear aligners.

You Will Experience Greater Comfort with Clear Aligners

The smooth plastic of the aligners is more comfortable than metal braces against the soft tissue in your mouth. With metal braces, rubbing against these sensitive areas in your mouth can lead to painful sores. Wires can also break and poke your cheeks, lips, and tongue.

Each time the metal braces are tightened by your orthodontist, these problems start all over again. When you change aligners, there may be temporary discomfort from the new pressure on the teeth, but you don’t have to worry about wires and brackets rubbing raw spots in your mouth.

Clear Aligners Mean Fewer Visits to the Dentist’s Office

Once your initial scans are done and your dentist orders your aligners, there is no need to visit the office as much as you would with metal braces. You insert the new aligners according to the pre-set schedule given to you by your dentist at the beginning of your treatment. 

With metal braces, you must return to the orthodontist each time the braces need to be tightened. You would also need to go if a bracket or wire breaks so those things can be repaired. 

Clear Aligners May Be a Good Choice for You!

There are many great reasons to consider clear aligners as you work toward straight, beautiful teeth. They are less noticeable, more comfortable, and allow easy access to your teeth for brushing and flossing. Advances in technology for aligners have shortened the time it takes to realign your teeth and no changes in diet are required because you remove them to eat.

Here at Strafford Dental Associates, we not only offer general dentistry but also effective treatment with clear aligners to give patients the straight, beautiful smile they deserve. Consider us as part of your treatment team as you make the best decision for your needs. 

Request an appointment today!