Invisible braces in 2020

2020 was the year dentistry went back to basics; the red tape around aerosol-forming activity has been intense, the tiny droplets generated from dental drilling could have a significant range, posing an infection risk to dental staff and other patients. With orthodontics considered a non-emergency procedure, many people are pursuing at home (via the post) solutions to orthodontic treatment; mostly being clear aligners.

How does at-home orthodontics work?

Well, it starts with a dental mould; you may have had one in your local clinic, if not it’s a bit like having a gum shield fitted. You’ll be sent a kit with detailed instructions on taking a mould of your own teeth with a return address. The service provider will make a plaster cast from that mould and scan it.

The scan will be digitally re-aligned by a medical professional and a set of models with gradual progression will be made from your current tooth position to the re-aligned position, like a flip-book of your orthodontic journey. From these, a set of clear aligners can be digitally formed and 3D printed. They are sent right to your front door in the post, with no breaching of social distancing even if you’re self-isolating.

The methods used at Clear Braces Direct in London involve attending an appointment for a mould to be taken or having an inter-oral scan. This eliminates the need for mould taking or any aerosol-forming work to be done.

How effective are aligners

The British Orthodontic Society BOS considers them to be effective for mild to moderate dental issues, including crowding and mild spacing. Where the dental arch requires expansion or tooth slenderising is required, this is best assessed by your dentist, who will happily inform you if clear aligners are suitable for you.

How long might treatment take?

The length of the course varies significantly between patients and would have to be assessed before a reasonable prediction could be made. You could complete treatment in 6 months but it may be longer. However, the initial results will be apparent after two weeks of continually wearing an aligner.

Aligners need to be worn as often as possible to be effective, throughout both the day and night. They’re very thin and close to the teeth therefore rarely obstruct normal talking. Although it is possible to eat and drink in aligners, with very hard foods you would risk damaging them and getting food caught under them, so removing your aligners to eat is highly recommended.

I already have braces or have had braces – could I switch to aligners?

Quite possibly, if your teeth have started to revert to there original positions after a brace has been removed, an aligner could help to correct that. If you’re still in braces, the options are either to use both to reduce your treatment time or switch entirely to an aligner. The option to switch would depend on the severity of your condition and how close you are to completing the brace part of treatment and moving on to a retainer.