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What Are Clear Aligners, Anyway?

Interested in straightening your teeth with clear aligners? Great choice! As with any health decision, it’s important to start with research about the treatment. And great job: you’ve come to the right place!

What are clear aligners? This innovative orthodontic treatment method uses a series of transparent plastic aligners that fit snugly over your teeth to gently shift them to their correct positions. Each aligner is custom-fit to your teeth and designed to treat your unique diagnosis. Over the past twenty years, clear braces have transformed the orthodontic industry and become a go-to solution for millions of Americans!

We’ve compiled a handy resource for all your questions about clear aligners. This orthodontic treatment is widely available, safe, and effective, but choosing the right clear aligner can be complicated. We’ve broken down the information for you, to answer all your questions about this orthodontic treatment.

Are Clear Teeth Aligners Really Effective?

In a word: yes! Clear braces have been used by orthodontists for over 20 years, and millions of Americans have straight teeth and beautiful smiles thanks to clear aligners. Clear aligners are FDA-approved, and the treatment method is backed by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) and the American Dental Association (ADA).

However, it’s important to note that not all clear aligner treatments are created equal. Since Invisalign® was first approved for consumers in 1997, many copycat companies selling clear aligners have popped up. The treatment may sound similar, but not all clear aligners provide effective results.

Invisalign® is the original form of clear aligner therapy for straightening teeth. They have spent years researching materials and treatment methods to develop some of the most effective aligners on the market, using patented SmartTrack™ plastic and SmartForce™ attachments. Invisalign clear aligner treatment is only available in orthodontists’ office, under the supervision of a licensed orthodontist. Invisalign is highly-rated by doctors, patients, and consumer groups as one of the most effective clear aligner solutions available.

In recent years, mail-order clear aligner companies have cropped up, offering DIY kits that allow you to straighten teeth at home. While the convenience and cost-savings can sound appealing, there are major concerns about the effectiveness of these treatments. With at-home aligners, consumers never visit an orthodontist, which can have serious consequences for the effectiveness of treatment, even resulting in permanently damaged teeth and gums. For the most effective results, it’s best to have your teeth treated in a licensed orthodontist’s office under the supervision of a real doctor.

Like all medical treatments, every case is unique. While doctor-supervised clear aligners are effective, your orthodontist will be able to assess your teeth and recommend the right braces treatment for you, to ensure the most effective results for your beautiful smile!

Learn more about the effectiveness of clear aligners here.

How Do Clear Aligners Work?

Metal braces, the original form of orthodontia, move your teeth by connecting them with a wire and metal brackets. So how can you get the same results with clear aligners? The process may be different, but when you’re finished, you can expect the same straight teeth and beautiful smile as other orthodontic treatments!

To straighten your teeth, you will receive use a series of translucent plastic aligners custom-designed to fit your teeth. You’ll wear each set of aligners for 1-2 weeks, after which, you’ll be fitted with a brand-new pair. Each set of aligners works to gently and safely move your teeth into their correct positions. At the conclusion of your treatment, you’ll receive a set of retainer aligners to make sure your beautiful smile is permanent!

Clear aligners are nearly invisible, fitting securely around your teeth so that they blend seamlessly with your smile. If necessary for your treatment, your orthodontist may use attachments, which are small fixtures on several teeth that give your aligners extra grip. They are very small and discreet, and with your aligners in, will themselves be nearly invisible.

During your treatment, it’s important to keep your aligners clean and well cared for. Rinsing them with clean water and brushing them gently with a toothbrush removes build-up and other debris from your aligners, keeping them fresh and clean. Many aligner brands have specialized cleaning formulas that enhance hygiene as well.

What if you break, bend, or lose an aligner? Don’t sweat! Just schedule a visit with your orthodontist, and they’ll provide you with a replacement aligner. It’s important to get your replacement quickly, so your treatment stays on track.

Over the course of your treatment, you will be able to see and feel your progress! At the completion of your care, you’ll be amazed at the results and ready to share your smile with the world!

Get the full scoop on how clear aligners work.

Can Clear Aligners Fix All Teeth?

First of all, it’s important to remember: neither clear aligners nor metal braces fix your teeth. Your orthodontist does! Your orthodontist uses tools such as clear aligners or metal braces to correct your bite, align your teeth, and give you the healthy and happy smile you’ve been dreaming about! Luckily, clear aligners are an increasingly popular tool used by orthodontists, with great results.

Clear aligner treatment has become increasingly popular for patients of all ages. Specialized clear aligner programs have been designed for kids and teens, to straighten their teeth safely with age-appropriate mechanisms. Orthodontists say they’ve seen a sharp uptick in teenagers requesting Invisalign, to skip the “metal-mouth” stereotypes at school (although metal braces are still popular and effective as well!). Whatever your age, if your teeth are ready for braces, clear aligners may be an option for you!

As the technology has developed and improved, clear aligners are able to treat ever more complex cases. That said, very severe cases of misaligned teeth and bite may require supplemental orthodontic support before clear aligners can be worn.

Some types of clear aligners are designed especially for milder cases. Six-month expedited clear aligner programs, for instance, are available only for cases moderate enough that the teeth can safely be moved in that short timeframe. While all smiles can be straightened, the severity of the misalignment will inform that length of treatment and the type of orthodontia recommended.

Tele-dentists using mail-order aligners are particularly limited in the types of cases they can safely treat. Because the orthodontists are only available via screen, they are limited in treatment options and interventions, and often use incomplete records to treat clients. The American Association of Orthodontists recently released a consumer alert regarding the hazards of mail-order clear aligners. These treatments can be especially damaging for severe cases that require more complex intervention and are improperly treated with mail-order aligners.

If you’re wondering whether your case can be treated with clear aligners, you can schedule an initial consultation, which requires no commitment. At your consultation, your orthodontist will examine your teeth carefully, and X-Rays or 3D-images will likely be taken to get a comprehensive picture of your teeth, gums, jaws, and bite. They will then be able to recommend the best course of treatment. Whatever course of treatment you choose, a beautiful smile is one the way!

Can clear aligners fix your teeth?

Are Clear Aligners as Effective as Metal Braces?

Metal braces, also known as traditional braces, are the original form of orthodontic therapy. This treatment continues to be a popular and effective method for straightening teeth of kids and adults of all ages.

How do clear aligners stack up against metal braces? Great question! Due to dedicated research, and great strides in effectiveness, precision, and reliability, clear aligner treatment is considered by orthodontists and researchers as equally effective as metal braces.

When you are treated with clear aligners, you can expect your teeth to be just as straight, and your smile just as beautiful, as with metal braces!

Each orthodontic case is unique, of course, which is why your orthodontist will do a comprehensive examination of your teeth, jaws, and bone structure to recommend the most effective treatment for your diagnosis.

If your orthodontist recommends clear aligners, and you decide to pursue this treatment, you can expect reliable results that you’ll feel great about! Make sure to choose an experienced orthodontist who will be in charge of your treatment; great results depend on great orthodontists with depth of experience and knowledge.

Here’s the full comparison of clear aligners and metal braces.

Invisalign vs. At-Home Clear Aligners: Are They the Same?

There are multiple clear aligner brands now on the market. Some of these, including Invisalign, can be used only in partnership with licensed orthodontists in real orthodontic offices.

New companies, however, have begun marketing mail-order aligners used at home. So-called “tele-dentists” supervise care via screen, and aligners are mailed to customers at home. It sounds so easy – but the reality is a little more complicated. The truth is, using clear aligners without a licensed orthodontist supervising care can have undesired results, requiring further care and in some cases causing serious damage.

Think about it this way: would you hire a “tele-barber” to trim your hair? Probably not! But even hair grows back – your adult teeth are the last set you get. Using a “tele-dentist” can have serious consequences, and in some cases permanent damage. You wouldn’t use a tele-barber; don’t use a tele-dentist.

While mail-order aligner companies claim to have the same results as Invisalign, that is not the case. What you miss with mail-order aligners can have big consequences in the results of your treatment.

Invisalign is the original clear aligner brand. They’ve spent 20 years refining their technology and materials. The specialized, patented products used by Invisalign are clinically proven to result in faster, more effective treatment. Many orthodontists exclusively use Invisalign for their clear aligner treatments, because they trust Invisalign for great results, every time.

On the other hand, mail-order aligner companies attempt to treat your teeth without the benefit of X-Rays and full diagnostic records. No face-to-face consultations mean that issues may be overlooked, leading to longer care schedules or necessary supplemental treatment.

Due to rising customer complaints and growing concern over the effectiveness of at-home mail-order aligners, the American Dental Association recently passed a resolution discouraging use of at-home clear aligners, and the American Association of Orthodontists filed complaints against a major at-home aligner company with the dental boards of 36 states.

At first glance, all clear aligners may seem the same. But it’s important to take a closer look and see what really sets companies like Invisalign apart from the rest in terms of effectiveness, safety, and amazing results!

Learn more about the risks of at-home aligners here.

What’s the Best Brand of Clear Aligner?

As clear aligner treatment has become more popular and the methods more widely available, many new companies have cropped up to offer various forms of clear aligners. So which is the best?

There are quite a few mail-order clear aligner companies on the market now. The process for each brand of mail-order aligners is relatively similar – but, as stated above, the results are often mixed or in some cases actively harmful.

When choosing to straighten your teeth without an in-office orthodontist, consider questions such as: who is my doctor? Who is managing my treatment? How is my progress measured? What do I do if there is an issue? Can I get my money back if the treatment doesn’t work? You will probably find that the reliability and safety of in-office orthodontic care surpasses the supposed convenience of treating your teeth at home by yourself.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends having your teeth straightened by a licensed orthodontist in a real office. There are various clear aligner brands available in this setting, as well. Some orthodontic practices even offer their own custom-made aligners without using a branded product.

While some of these aligner options may be effective, and you have the benefit of orthodontist-supervised care, many of these brands are very new to the market or not widely used enough to have concrete data on effectiveness and reliability. It’s important to consider the available research when making a decision on your clear aligners.

Invisalign, for its part, was the original clear aligner therapy. Since it first became available in 1997, Invisalign has done years of research and spent many millions of dollars developing the most effective, reliable products for straightening teeth with clear braces. Their products have helped make Invisalign treatment faster, safer, and more effective than other brands. More orthodontists choose Invisalign exclusively than any other clear aligner, because they know they can trust the results, each and every time.

Here’s the full breakdown of different clear aligner brands.

How Much Do Clear Aligners Cost?

When considering clear aligner treatment to straighten their teeth, many people have one most important question: how much do they cost? After all, this can make a big difference for people considering orthodontic treatment.

Treatment costs can vary widely: anywhere from $1,500 to $12,000. However, it’s important to look beyond the initial price tag, because there are various aspects of treatment cost to consider. Some brands may offer a smaller price tag, but fail to mention that many aspects of treatment, such as retainers or diagnostic records, are not included and will have to be covered separately. Others may cut costs by using less-effective materials, such as inferior plastic for their clear aligners.

And it’s also critical to consider cost-saving measures available with each brand. For instance, can you use your insurance? Orthodontic coverage with dental insurance can be a great cost-saver, but insurance companies don’t approve all types of clear aligners. Mail order aligners are usually not covered by insurance, whereas in-office treatments such as Invisalign tend to be covered.

Dental insurance typically doesn’t cover the full cost of treatment, but it can go a long way in making clear braces affordable! You may also find further savings through your FSA or HSA plan; be sure to check.

Another important question to consider: can you pay in interest-free monthly installments? After all, $3,000 might be a lot in one sum, but licensed orthodontic practices will often let you pay monthly under $100/month. Be sure to check interest rates, so you’re not saddled with extra costs.

There is a wide variety of cost associated with orthodontic treatment; the price tag isn’t everything, so be sure to look into what you’re really paying for – and what you get!

Click here to get the full story on the cost of clear aligners.

Ready for Your Great Smile? Get Started with Clear Aligners!

We hope this information has been helpful in answering your questions about clear aligner orthodontic care. We’re happy to answer any other questions you may have: call Diamond Braces at (862) 330-1500 or to schedule a complimentary visit with one of our orthodontists to begin your journey towards smile joy!

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