Clear Aligners: What are my options?

8 commonly used aligner options

What are the different aligner options?

When it comes to dental aligners, there are a few different options available. These aligners are typically used to straighten teeth and correct dental misalignments. Here are 8 of the commonly used aligner options:

1: Invisalign braces

Invisalign braces: Invisalign is one of the most well-known and popular aligner systems. It uses a series of clear, removable aligners (like very thin mouthguard) made from a smooth plastic material. Each aligner is custom-made to gradually move your teeth into the desired position. Invisalign aligners are virtually invisible and can be easily removed for eating, brushing, and flossing. Tooth coloured attachments are placed on the teeth which help the aligners to grip the teeth better and move them more efficiently. Any aligner system that doesn’t use attachments at present, we would regard as inferior.

2: Spark Clear Aligners

Spark clear aligners: Spark is a system similar to Invisalign but the aligners are thinner and the people behind the aligner system use larger attachments than some of the other companies. This fits with recent research shown at the recent Aligner Conference in Turin by Dr Nanda, who found that the size of the attachment seems to have more influence on good results than the shape.

3: Smartee

Smartee is an aligner system where different approaches can be taken because the aligners are designed for particular types of treatment. This treatment has been used in China for over 20 years but is now being rolled out worldwide and has some very interesting and useful applications, for expansion, functional appliance treatments and many other applications.

4: Angel Aligners

Angel Aligners: Angel Aligners was developed 20 years ago in China and similar to many other aligner systems. This company is expanding significantly and will be another one to watch.

5: ClearCorrect

ClearCorrect is a system similar to Invisalign that uses clear, removable aligners. It works on the same principle, gradually moving your teeth into proper alignment. ClearCorrect aligners are custom-made and offer a discreet and convenient alternative to traditional braces.

6: Traditional fixed braces

Traditional fixed braces: While not aligners in the strict sense, traditional braces are worth mentioning as an alternative option. Braces consist of brackets bonded to the teeth and connected with wires and rubber bands. They are not removable like aligners and require periodic adjustments by an orthodontist. Some people are suited to having lingual braces which are like traditional braces but stuck to the inside surface of the teeth and are thus more invisible.

7: SmileDirectClub

SmileDirectClub is a direct-to-consumer aligner system. It involves taking impressions or scans of your teeth at home or at a SmileShop location, and then receiving a series of custom aligners in the mail. The treatment should be remotely supervised by dental professionals, although the level of qualification of these professionals should be asked about, as well as how easy it will be to contact them during treatment.

There are some questions as to the safety of direct to consumer treatments because no radiographs (x-rays) are taken, no attachments are used and there have been complaints about communication. 10% of the population are susceptible to gum disease and this may not be picked up if there is no clinical examination. Short roots, extra teeth or other common issues are not noticed without radiographs. This can be a barrier to safe treatment.

Taking impressions in your own home is risky, particularly if you have had dental work in the past. There are a number of stories of people choking, pulling bridgework out and sometimes even teeth, when removing the impression material at home. The comments section on some of the direct to consumer websites does have submissions from people who have not been able to communicate with a dental professional when they have a problem. If this is the case, then it makes it difficult to see how many cases can be that successful. It is very common for patients to want refinements to their treatment. This happens with all orthodontic treatments. Because the impressions are taken remotely and there is no in house clinical contact, it is not possible to fit attachments to the teeth and this significantly reduces the efficiency of aligners.

8: In-House

3d Printers and the software required to make aligners is becoming less expensive, so some clinics are now making their own aligners. The variation in quality is likely to be more variable in such clinics but if a qualified orthodontist is using the software, this could make treatment work far better than where there is no direct contact with the person having treatment. New materials are being developed like Graphy which could be very useful when developed further as they are heat activated fit to the teeth better when put into the mouth, which is warmer than room temperature.

It is now broadly accepted that any appliance system will have its limitations and more and more of the leaders in the orthodontic industry are recognising that more than one system can be of use in getting the best results for the individual. It’s important to note that the suitability of each aligner option can vary depending on individual dental needs and the recommendation of a dental professional. Consulting with an orthodontist or dentist will help determine the most appropriate aligner treatment for your specific case. This is best carried out by seeing someone who has good orthodontic experience. In this way, as treatment progresses, the patient is able to see the changes and have an influence on how the treatment moves forwards.

How we can help you

Contact our lovely team to book either a consultation with one of our Specialist Orthodontists here in Birmingham or a free smile assessment and chat with our Treatment Coordinator, Carol O’Callaghan.

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