Today, technological advancements have made clear aligners an ideal choice for many, thanks to their convenience, comfort, and discretion. But for someone getting aligners for the first time, the process may seem less clear. Some may have questions about how long it takes to get aligners, how long treatment lasts, or how often they're supposed to wear them. This article will lay out the clear aligner process step by step so patients can get a better understanding of how this treatment works.
What are clear aligners?
Clear aligners are thin, transparent, removable orthodontic devices that help the wearer correct issues such as teeth crowding, gaps, and misalignment. Their removability makes them easy to clean, as well as brush and floss teeth. Additionally, since they're transparent and form-fitting, others can't see aligners. This allows the wearer to go about life without discomfort or self-consciousness.
How does the clear aligner treatment process work?
Here's how the clear aligner process works, step-by-step:
1. Doctor consultation
First, the patient can schedule a consultation with their doctor to determine if clear aligners are the right treatment. The doctor will take photographs and x-rays of the patient's teeth, then get a set of tooth impressions to send off to the clear aligner company.
2. Waiting for the aligners
Once the aligner manufacturer gets the impressions and other information, they use this data to create the aligners. The patient simply waits for their aligners to come back during this time. This generally takes about four weeks from the day the doctor sends off the impressions.
3. Getting the aligners
The doctor will let the patient know when the aligners are ready. The patient then returns to the doctor's office to receive them. Each aligner is designed differently, and they're meant to be worn in a specific order. The doctor will explain the order and give tips on caring for the aligners before sending the patient home.
4. Wearing the aligners
Now, the patient can begin wearing the aligners. They typically need to wear them 22 hours a day to be effective, only removing them to eat meals, brush, floss, and clean the aligners. In general, many patients will switch to the next aligner in the sequence every two weeks.
5. Check-in appointments
In many cases, the doctor will want to check in periodically to ensure treatment is progressing correctly.
Once the patient finishes treatment, they'll visit the doctor to make sure everything looks good. If more adjustments are needed, they will receive more trays to correct the issue.
7. Finishing treatment and getting a retainer
When a patient finishes alignment treatment, they need to ensure their teeth stay in their new positions. So, the doctor will create a retainer for the patient to wear when finished with the aligners.
It's important to wear this retainer in the months following treatment. After these first few months, many patients will need to wear it a few times a week for life. In many cases, they only need to wear them while sleeping at night, minimizing inconvenience.
Clear aligners offer fast and easy treatment
Clear aligners offer comfortable, convenient, and fast treatment. All the doctor needs are some photos, x-rays, and impressions of the patient's teeth to have the aligners prepared. Once they're ready, the patient has to wear each aligner 22 hours a day for two weeks before switching to the next one. Consistently wearing aligners 22 hours per day leads to an easy treatment process and a perfect smile.
That's all there is to it, aside from needing a retainer at the end of treatment. Overall, patients should consider the simplicity of clear aligners when deciding the best treatment option for their needs.
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