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How effective are clear aligners?

Clear aligners have many advantages over regular fixed orthodontic braces, but most of the ones that are mentioned frequently are aesthetic ones, or ones that have to do with comfort. But how effective are these relatively new kinds of aesthetic braces? What problems can they cure and what problems need fixed orthodontics?

Clear aligners
Clear aligners

Orthodontic problem: crowding

Most people have some degree of crowding in their teeth. Crowding is a term used to refer to when a tooth pushes other teeth closer together. If crowding is moderate or not too severe, then aligners are more than enough to deal with the problem, but severe crowding will always require fixed orthodontics.

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Orthodontic problem: bite difficulties

Orthodontic problems that stem from the teeth not lining up when you bite are very difficult, and usually only need one or two teeth to be moved. These kinds of problems usually cannot be solved with the use of clear aligners, and need fixed orthodontics, because frequently force needs to come from more than one direction in order to correct the bite; for instance, some teeth may need to be pushed outwards at the same time that others should be pulled inwards.

Invisalign clear aligner
Invisalign® clear aligner

Orthodontic problem: aesthetic and alignment issues

The appearance of the teeth and their slight misalignments can be fixed easily using clear aligners. If it is just a question of straightening the teeth out, or of getting your smile to be neater and more even, then clear aligners are probably your best bet. But if a tooth needs to be rotated, or a snaggletooth needs to be put back in with the rest of them, a clear aligner probably won’t cut it, and you will need to get some other kind of orthodontic treatment.

Clear aligners in general

Clear aligners have the disadvantage of only being able to give one directional force, and can only push or pull in one way. Some orthodontic treatments require multiple kinds of force from different directions, either simultaneously, or at different times during the treatment, and clear aligners just cannot do that. If rotating or changing the direction of teeth are also not possible using clear aligner based dental treatment.   

More information about clear aligners

 
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