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Our teeth move throughout our lifetime. When teeth shift after orthodontic treatment it is called orthodontic relapse. It is normal and expected that teeth will shift after orthodontic treatment if retention is not used. Unfortunately, many people learn the “retention lesson” the hard way. Once you’ve experienced orthodontic relapse at least once, it tends to make you more motivated to use retainers.

If you’ve recently completed clear aligner therapy but gotten off track with your retainers, it may be tempting to re-use your old aligners. Should you?

During treatment, we instruct patients to keep their last set of aligners when they move on to a new set. The only time you should re-use an old aligner is if you lose or break your current set. Going back to the previous set will as least ensure you do not lose the progress you have made while replacement trays are being fabricated.

Clear aligners are precision medical devices. Each aligner tray moves the teeth between 0.1mm and 0.25mm. Anything more aggressive than has the potential to damage the tooth by applying too much force too quicky. Pressures are applied very specifically to accomplish certain movements, including:

• Tipping
• Torquing
• Translating
• Rotating
• Intruding
• Extruding
• Distalization

With movements this precise, the aligner must fit the tooth perfectly to accomplish the desired movement. The problem with re-using old aligners trays is that we have no way to know:
• Which teeth have moved
• How have they moved
• How far have they moved

The only way to know with certainty is to take a new model of the teeth and essentially start the treatment process over.

There are two main dangers associated with re-using old trays:
1. They may apply too much force to a tooth, causing damage
2. They likely won’t fit properly which could cause teeth to move in unexpected – and unwanted – ways.

Your best option to avoid shifting teeth is to get in the habit of wearing retainers. If your teeth do shift, clear aligners are a great way to get that smile back where you’d like. But re-using old aligners is never a good idea. The sooner you address it, the easier and quicker your treatment is likely to be.

Do you ever catch yourself covering your teeth when you smile or laugh? You’re not alone. Almost everyone has something that they are a little insecure about – body hair, weight, skin blemishes, big ears, etc. Everyone deserves to have the confidence that comes from feeling good about their appearance. And that doesn’t mean trying to achieve some unrealistic, air-brushed, standard. It’s just about feeling comfortable in your own skin. Here are the top 5 reasons why people choose to straighten their teeth, in no particular order:

 

  1. Oral Health

Did you know that misaligned teeth are harder to keep clean and therefore more likely to develop cavities and gingivitis? In severe cases, misaligned teeth do not contact the opposing teeth evenly which can result in the premature wear of the teeth.

 

  1. A Big Event

A wedding. A college graduation. A high school reunion. A big overseas vacation. There are certain events in our lives that we will remember forever – if for no other reason than that we typically take a lot of photos during these events. It’s only natural to want to be at your best for a big life event like this. Your smile is the first thing people are going to notice in those photos.

 

  1. Career

You may be totally comfortable with your appearance. But what if your professional opportunities are limited because of the way others perceive you based on your appearance? Do clients perceive you to be less trustworthy because you have a few crooked teeth? Does your boss perceive you to be a little less intelligent?  Does that investor that you’re pitching your idea to just not look at you as being very successful? Like it or not, your teeth and smile can have an impact on all of these things (see #5: Perceptions).

 

  1. Social Life

We all know the power of a first impression. In a world with dating apps like Tinder, first impressions have never been more important. It’s possible that crooked teeth could be making it harder to meet that special someone. In addition to the superficial aspect, people are also attracted to confidence. If you’re a little insecure about your smile, that can project low self-confidence and make you less attractive when meeting new people.

 

  1. Perceptions

We all have subconscious biases through which we view other people. Here are some eye-opening numbers from a recent study about how people are perceived based purely on their teeth and smile:

  • 73% of Americans would be more likely to trust someone with a nice smile than someone with a good job, outfit, or car.
  • People with straight teeth are seen as 58% more likely to be successful or wealthy.
  • People with straight teeth are 38% more likely to be perceived as intelligent.

Whether it is how we perceive ourselves, or how others perceive us, our smile is one of the first things people notice about us. If something is off with your teeth and smile, it can affect your self-confidence and the way that other people view you.

You’re an adult. You have crooked teeth. And you’ve decided to finally do something about it. There are a variety of teeth straightening options available. Each has pros and cons. How do you determine which option is best for you? The complexity of your orthodontic needs is the first thing that should be taken into consideration when evaluating potential treatment modalities. Your doctor can help with that. From there, the option you choose will likely be determined by what you value the most in terms of:

  • Affordability
  • Quality of outcome
  • Convenience of the process
  • Discretion of the appliance
  • Degree of direct doctor oversight

Let’s take a look at the common orthodontic treatment modalities and some reasons why they may – or may not – be the right teeth straightening option for you.

Metal bracesMetal Braces

Comprised of metal brackets and wires, these are what most of us think of when we hear the word “braces.” We’re accustomed to seeing them on adolescents, but most adults aren’t super excited about that look.

Pros Cons
·       They’re effective! That’s why they’ve stuck around for so long

·       They allow for comprehensive orthodontic care to correct most orthodontic conditions including underbite and overbite

·       In-person doctor oversight

·       Require regular doctor visits

·       Are not discreet

·       Expensive (average around $5500)

·       Treatment durations can be 2+ years

·       Hard to clean

 

Ceramic braces (or “invisible” braces)Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces rely on brackets and wires like traditional metal braces, but the brackets are crafted using clear materials making them transparent and perfect for those who want a less noticeable look.

Pros Cons
·       They’re effective! That’s why they’ve stuck around for so long

·       They allow for comprehensive orthodontic care to correct most orthodontic conditions including underbite and overbite

·       More discreet than metal braces

·       In-person doctor oversight

·       Require regular doctor visits

·       Not as discreet as aligners

·       Cost – typically a little more expensive than metal braces

·       Treatment durations can be 2+ years

·       Hard to clean

 

Lingual BracesLingual Braces

Lingual braces have the same components as conventional braces, but they’re fixed to the back of your teeth, on the tongue — or lingual — side of the teeth. Because they’re behind your teeth, they’re nearly invisible.

Pros

Cons

·       Visually discreet

·       In-person doctor oversight

·       Can’t do everything that traditional braces can do

·       Typically causes a lisp

·       Often irritate the tongue

·       Require regular doctor visits

·       Not as discreet as aligners

·       Cost – typically the most expensive orthodontic option

·       Treatment duration can be even longer than traditional braces

·       Hard to clean

 

Clear Aligners (in office)Clear Aligners In Office

With advancements in technology, clear aligners have become the treatment option of choice for many patients and providers alike.

Pros Cons
·       They’re discreet

·       They’re removable and easy to keep clean

·       Can do more things than at-home aligners using     buttons/attachments and IRP

·       In-person doctor oversight

·       Requires office visits

·       The routine. You have to take them out to eat and drink

·       Can’t do all the things that traditional braces can do

·       Cost – usually 2-4x the cost of at-home aligners options

 

Clear Aligners (at home)Clear Aligners At Home

With advancements in technology, clear aligners have become the treatment option of choice for many patients and providers alike.

Pros Cons
·       Affordable (70% less than other options)

·       Discreet

·       Removeable and easy to keep clean

·       No office visits are required

·       Only suitable for mild to moderate cases

·       The routine. You have to take them out to eat and drink

·       No in-person doctor oversight

 

Doctors' office visits during the treatment process can be either a pro or a con depending on your perspective. Our lives are busier than they’ve ever been. Most people don’t have time for regular office visits, or the inclination to pay 2-3x's as much just to have a doctor checking in on their progress in person. However, some people like to have additional peace of mind and are willing to pay extra for it. For most people with mild to moderate alignment needs, at-home clear aligners are a clear winner.

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Clear braces. Invisible aligners. Clear Aligners. Invisible braces. Invisalign. Marketers nowadays treat these terms interchangeably in an attempt to capture search engine traffic. But they actually refer to very different modalities of orthodontic treatment. Let's start from the beginning.

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Many people are surprised to learn that clear aligners are not 3D printed. But the process of making clear aligners does involve 3D printing. The flowchart below outlines the four general steps involved in the process of making clear orthodontic aligners. (more…)

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