Defining Dentistry: What are clear aligners?

By Dr. Salina Suy

Editor’s note: This is another segment in a continuing series titled, “Defining Dentistry,” designed to enlighten readers on various components of dentistry.

alignerHappy June everyone!! June means true summertime here in the Mohawk Valley and it also means my wedding festivities begin!

For those of you who don’t know, Al and I are getting married in August. June is the month of my bridal shower and bachelorette party — so exciting!

What does June mean for you?

Thank you again for joining in on this month’s “Smile with Dr. Suy” column and our continuing series, “Defining Dentistry.” This month’s column explores the elusive clear aligner.

What are clear aligners?

Clear aligners are clear orthodontic “appliances” that are utilized in dentistry to straighten teeth. They are made of a clear material that is made perfectly to your teeth as they change from one step to the next. They are virtually invisible and have opened the doors for more patients to receive this great care.

How do clear aligners work?

Just like regular braces, aligners are designed to move teeth a little at a time. Unique sets of clear aligners are made special for each phase of your treatment; each phase is usually worn for one to three weeks depending on your treatment.

All you do it place them in your mouth and go! Before you begin treatment, your teeth should be free of all cavities and regular check ups with your dentist are recommended. Clear aligners are not suitable for everyone; regular metal braces may be necessary for certain kinds of treatments.

How do I get clear aligners?

The process starts with a simple consultation. Call to schedule an appointment with your dentist for a clear aligner consult.

During your consult, your dentist will examine you clinically, talk with you and discuss your treatment plan. Other diagnostic records include X-rays, clinical images and digital scans or captured impressions.

Typically, there is an initial diagnos done to determine if you are a candidate.

After all of the records are placed together, you should return to your dentist and confirm your treatment plan. Sometimes, some tooth filing may need to be done to make room for treatment. This allows proper movement into the desired positions.

Clear aligners are a great service. I actually just finished my own treatment in time for our wedding. I am so happy and glad I stuck to it.

If your dentist does not do clear aligners, feel free to call me at Zalatan Dental.

Tips, tricks for patients with   clear aligners

As someone who just finished a case on myself, here are a few tips and tricks for the clear aligner patient:

— Do not do this alone — The online scam of DIY clear aligners has hit the population hard. It is an insult to the proper care a professional provides and is a gamble on oral health being that you are not being regularly monitored in person.

— Wear at least 22 hours a day, taking it out to only eat. The more it is in your mouth, the more it works.

— Brush and floss in between taking the aligners in and out. Not doing proper hygiene can increase cavity risk since the aligners can act as traps to harbor bacteria.

— Brush the aligners, too.

I hope this column has helped answer any questions on braces and the many ways to straighten your teeth.

As always, thank you for joining me in this month’s education series and hopefully we will learn more together next month.

Please feel free to contact me with questions and comments! Have some questions to ask me in person? Call for a free consultation. I look forward to meeting you!

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