A trip to the dentist often includes a cleaning and a quick check by the dentist, but far too often there are more unexpected problems that arise including fillings, crowns, periodontal procedures, and a plethora of other issues that the patient simply cannot plan for. However, there is one procedure that many people plan for and even create savings accounts in order to afford for their children… braces.

Orthodontists are dentists who go back to school in order to specialize in braces and the movement of teeth. While there will never be a replacement for these professionals, especially when drastic changes in tooth position are required, there has been a dramatic shift in which dental professionals are able to effectively move teeth to attain an esthetic smile.

There are advanced courses called CE (continuing education) that give general dentists the tools to place braces in order to correct minor issues in tooth position. The far more popular option for dentists and patients alike is the use of clear aligners. Invisalign and Clear Correct are the two leading corporations that allow general dentists the ability to handle their patients esthetic concerns within their office.

Here is how the clear aligner system has revolutionized the orthodontic landscape. Your dentist can analyze your bite and determine if your case is a good candidate for clear aligners. If you are, the dentist can send your information to the company of their choosing and inform them of what changes need to be made and what the final tooth position should look like. The patients existing tooth position is loaded into a computer program, and clear aligners are created to move the teeth slowly over time until the desired bite and esthetics are attained.

When the patient is ready to begin treatment, they will come in for a delivery appointment. Often times, “buttons” are placed on the front of certain teeth in order to increase torque on teeth that require greater movements. These are made out of a tooth colored material and are relatively invisible. The patient will then be given some of the trays that are changed every 2 weeks to move teeth slowly throughout the course of treatment.

It is very important to remember that these trays need to be worn as often as possible, preferably 22 hours per day. The cells in the bone that allow tooth movement will stop working after just 2 hours of not wearing the trays, and can take 24-48 hours before tooth movement can commence. If the trays are not consistently worn, tooth movement cannot effectively occur and the end result will not be as esthetic as possible. It is also important to never eat or drink anything except for water while the trays are being worn, and to brush and floss every time before the trays are placed back in the mouth.

Clear aligner therapy is not the best answer for everyone, but for most cases in our esthetically conscious world they can correct imperfectly aligned teeth without many people even knowing that braces were ever worn.

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