Aligners are orthodontic devices used to correct dental malocclusions in an almost invisible manner. Using aligner technology, a malocclusion can be successfully treated by placing a series of transparent splints called aligners on the patient’s teeth. These aligners are made of a thin, transparent film according to the specifications of the orthodontist, who employs a special computer-aided, state-of-the-art procedure to straighten the patient’s teeth without any wires or brackets.
The orthodontist takes impressions of your teeth and sends them to a company that produces aligners. The company digitally scans the dental impressions. With the aid of the virtual model, the malocclusion is corrected on the monitor. This involves defining the intermediate steps, with every step corresponding to one computer-generated image.
Afterwards, the digital data is transferred to plastic models, by means of which the corresponding splints are fabricated. Depending on the initial findings, between 12 and 50 splints are generally required for treatment.
The aligners must be worn 22 hours a day and changed within a period of two weeks, such that the teeth are straightened in steps of 0.15–0.25 mm per aligner until they reach their final position as specified by the orthodontist. The extent of movement depends on several factors, including the type of tooth movement as well as periodontal conditions.
On the first day, a majority of patients experience slight pressure or tooth sensitivity when new aligners are fitted. This demonstrates that the aligners are effective and that the teeth are moving into the desired position.
Thanks to the transparent splints, the position of the teeth is corrected in an almost invisible fashion. Furthermore, the patient is able to remove the device and eat and drink whatever he wishes. He can care for his teeth as usual throughout the treatment course, enabling optimal oral hygiene. The aligners themselves should be rinsed off with water after each application, as this prevents saliva components from settling in the splint and makes cleaning easier.
Aligners are not suitable for every patient and every type of malocclusion; e.g., canine rotations are difficult to treat. Furthermore, some type of malocclusions would require severe degradation of teeth contact surfaces (i.e., the interdental spaces) by interproximal enamel reduction (or stripping) for the tooth movement with aligners. In these types of malocclusions classic braces are used by the orthodontics instead of Aligners to avoid severe degrading the dental enamel.Aligner