Children, teens and even some adults get braces in the hopes of fixing crooked teeth and make them perfectly straight. Braces are often necessary addition to many mouths to prevent further dental issues down the road. Still, many people also choose to get them to fit with the American beauty standards.
Often, people see braces as an inconvenience. They’re expensive, might not look the best and take a lot of extra care, but the result is a set of straight pearly whites. It seems, though, as if the world of braces is slowly turning into a world of aligners, which are essentially clear braces.
As the parent of a child who needs dental work, this may be one of your options. To make your choice easier, here’s everything parents need to know about aligners.
What Are Aligners?
With braces, metal is the primary material used to straighten teeth. Aligners, though, are made from a clear acrylic or plastic material. They’re molded to fit perfectly around your teeth after using photographs and impressions of your teeth.
How Do They Work?
Just like braces, aligners adjust teeth with little movement at a time. There are at-home kits you can use, but usually, an orthodontist will examine the teeth with impressions, x-rays, scans and photographs. Using that information, the orthodontist can use the tools and software to create a perfect aligner for your teeth.
Throughout the straightening process, your child will go through quite a few sets of aligners as their teeth move into place. The aligners put gentle pressure on teeth to reposition them until they reach the desired look.
Who Should Use Aligners?
Those who would typically need braces can use aligners. However, they work best for people whose teeth are already set in place, like teens and adults. Children’s teeth are not yet set, and older adults with serious dental issues shouldn’t use aligners. The best thing to do is consult with a professional if you think your child needs dental work.
Many people use aligners for cosmetic reasons, but if your teeth or your child’s teeth are causing mouth pain or other oral health problems, then aligners could help with that. Some people may have crowded teeth, misalignments or a severe overbite or underbite that an aligner could easily fix to make their mouth more comfortable and prevent further issues.
Pros of Aligners
Aligners have become a popular choice for dental work. Below are some of the benefits of using aligners.
1. They’re Clear
Unlike braces, aligners are clear and are hard to see. If your child is worried about looks, these won’t look much different from their regular teeth and are very discreet.
2. You Don’t Have to Wear Them 24/7
Although it’s best to wear the aligners as much as possible, you can take them out when eating, brushing your teeth or if you have an event where you don’t want to wear them. This means there’s no limitation to what you can eat, too. Plus, aligners typically take less time to straighten your teeth than braces do.
3. They Aren’t as Painful
Those who wear braces often experience extreme discomfort and sometimes pain. Aligners are less painful because they’re not directly attached to the teeth. When switching between sets of aligners, there can be some discomfort, but it generally goes away quickly.
Cons of Aligners
Although there are many advantages of aligners, there are some disadvantages as well.
1. They Have to Be Removed Every Time You Eat
Aligners can be inconvenient and even a bit embarrassing for some. Every time you eat, you have to remove the aligners. That means, if you’re in a restaurant, you’ll have to remove them there before eating, which can be cumbersome.
2. You Need to Brush and Floss Often
Someone without aligners can get away with only taking a few minutes for a dental routine. However, with aligners, you have to brush and floss your teeth every time you eat or drink something that isn’t water. Food particles and sugars from some drinks can stick to your teeth, so without cleaning your teeth after consumption, they may be trapped under the aligners for hours, causing damage to your teeth.
How to Get Aligners
There are two ways you can get aligners — either through an at-home kit or by a professional. At-home kits are typically less expensive. The company sends you all of the materials you need to make impressions of your teeth. You send in the impressions, and they’ll send back the aligners. Although they are generally effective, you can’t really know if you have the right fit without the help of a professional.
When you get aligners from a dentist or an orthodontist, you ensure you’ll have the right fit. Plus, you have someone to go to in case any problems arise with the aligners. If you think you may need extensive dental care, then the best option would be to get aligners through a professional.
Life With Aligners
Once you get aligners, your life doesn’t change that much. Since aligners are discreet, you can go about your day pretty normally. You just have to remember to remove them before eating or drinking and ensuring you devote enough time in your day to cleaning your aligners and your teeth.
You can eat and drink anything, and you can participate in all of your normal activities. In a short time, you’ll have straighter, healthier teeth.
Will You Choose Aligners?
Now that you’re armed with everything you need to know about aligners, you can make a more informed decision about whether or not aligners are right for you or your child. If you’re unsure, the best thing to do is consult with your dentist or orthodontist so you can have a smooth journey to a straighter smile.