Forget braces! Consumers these days want clear aligners to help straighten their teeth and improve their smiles.
Dr. Lee Gause, D.D.S.
Founder, Smile Design Manhattan
Dr. Daniel Berant, D.M.D.
Smile Design Manhattan
Aligners — invisible, custom, removable trays made of a special thermoplastic — apply gentle but consistent pressure without wires or brackets to move teeth to straighten them.
“I really see it as a revolution in orthodontics, this notion of using clear aligners to straighten the teeth and obtain that aesthetic, healthy, functional smile,” said orthodontist Dr. Daniel Berant, D.M.D., of Smile Design Manhattan.
Aligners are for everyone
Since they’re transparent, aligners aren’t noticeable, which gives confidence to aligner wearers of all ages. But it’s not just teens who get orthodontic treatment: According to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), one-third of orthodontic patients are adults.
“We have lots of lawyers and people on the news and people that are in front of the camera that are able to do their job with their aligners and without anybody ever knowing that,” said Lee Gause, D.D.S., founder of Smile Design Manhattan. “We have a model that booked a huge campaign with their clear aligners and it really doesn’t disrupt the treatment at all, or disrupt the life.”
Most people who want to straighten their teeth are candidates for aligners. They can be used to help correct both simple and complex misalignments, including gapped or overcrowded teeth; overbite, underbite, open bite, and more.
Even patients with more complex cases, such as missing teeth, that need implants can be addressed with aligners. The dentist can plan the implant placement for these patients by digitally placing those missing teeth into the aligner.
An advanced workflow allows the creation of a digital plan that’s used to make a patient’s custom aligners. Pre-planning yields efficient results.
“We map it all out before we start treating the patient and because we do that, we’re able to achieve our treatment goals,” Dr. Gause said, calling aligners the standard of care for adults with mild or medium malalignment.
While each patient’s treatment plan is different, patients typically start to see improvements in a few months and full results within about a year. In comparison, braces’ results can take 18 months to three years.
Compliance is key
Patients must change out their aligner trays every 1-2 weeks.
Unlike braces, aligners can be removed. Since the patient must wear the aligners 22 hours a day, they typically only remove them to eat, brush, and floss.
“Patients can keep their teeth really clean while they’re going through treatment because they don’t have a wire that becomes very difficult to clean food out of,” Dr. Gause said.
Patient compliance is the top reason why clear aligner therapy can fail.
Still, if a patient gets off track, the dentist can help. Dr. Berant said it’s all about teamwork, where the dentist is the coach and the patient is the player.
“We can tell them what to do in order to succeed, but it’s really the patient who needs to be that MVP player wearing the trays, taking ownership for their health,” he said.
Patients visit the dentist every eight weeks, or more as needed. Plus, they can digitally monitor their progress using an app if the clinician offers this service.
Following treatment, patients often continue wearing their aligners or a retainer to prevent future tooth movement.
While aligners are often sold online, Dr. Gause says it’s best to go to a dental professional who can ensure the aligners are correct and oversee the process. Consumers can expect a custom fit from aligners prescribed by a dentist. He says consumers ask for aligners: “They want a perfect smile without pain.”