Clear aligners are an effective alternative to traditional braces, because they use a system of clear, removable trays used to straighten teeth. In the past, clear aligner treatment was done by making a mold of a patient’s mouth and sending it to an off-site lab for the aligners to be fabricated. While this process was successful, we wanted to reduce our patients’ wait-time to begin treatment, as well as have more overall control over our patients’ treatment.
Thanks to advancements in digital technology and 3D printing, we are now able to scan a patient’s mouth, create a mold, and create our own clear aligners, right here at our office, saving considerable time and money.
Best of all, our clear aligners are made of the same high-quality material as name-brand aligners and work virtually the same. Each aligner is custom-made to fit over your teeth and is designed to gradually move teeth into their proper position.
How do clear aligners work?
Clear aligners are used as an alternative to traditional braces, and are designed to help guide teeth into proper position. Just like braces, clear aligners use gradual force to control tooth movement, but without any metal wires or brackets. As treatment progresses you switch aligners. Each aligner is a little different, so your teeth move a little more with every change.
Aligners are worn for at least 20 hours each day, and you’ll receive a new aligner every two weeks. The length of your treatment depends on the severity of your case, and treatment can take anywhere from six months to two years.
Our intraoral scanner is a small hand-held wand that digitally obtains the arrangement of the teeth and gums with a radiation-free laser. The scanning process is painless and can be stopped and started as many times as necessary. In addition, this also means no more gagging or discomfort for patients, since impression trays and impression materials are no longer needed!
Scans are typically completed within five to ten minutes and produce a perfect 3D digital impression of your teeth and soft tissue structures. This information is then used to determine your treatment and provides an idea of the finished result with a 3D model of your teeth on our computer screen.
Using your digital scan, we can print models of your teeth right in our office. Once your teeth have been scanned and your treatment path has been determined, we print models of your teeth at each stage of tooth movement. After we print the 3D models, we have equipment that allows us to make clear aligners for each stage of tooth movement.