Aligner treatment is a type of orthodontic treatment that can help to straighten teeth and manage misaligned bites. There are many brands of clear aligners, including Invisalign, Zen Yum, SureSmile etc. At Skye Dental, the only brand of clear aligners we offer is Invisalign as we are able to consistently deliver patients with the desired result using this system of clear aligners.
Clear aligners such as Invisalign work in a way that is different to orthodontic fixed braces. Pre-treatment photographs and models (impressions or scans) are submitted to Invisalign. A digital model of the patient’s teeth is created, and the treatment is planned on these digital models. Once confirmed, a series of clear aligners is manufactured which allows for the treatment plan to be carried out for the patient. Each aligner gently pushes the tooth or teeth into a new position, which is why patients are instructed to wear each aligner for a certain period of time.
My protocol for teen and adult treatments would usually entail patients wearing each of their aligners in the first full series of their aligners for 2 weeks. Yes, that's right. Full time, 20-22 hours a day, for 2 weeks per aligner, removing them only when eating, drinking or brushing their teeth. It may be a bit of a challenge at first, but it becomes much easier after the initial 1-2 weeks of full-time wear.
The number of days each aligner is to be worn for depends on the treatment plan, the tooth movements planned, and the dentist providing the treatment. In some cases, I might advise patients to change their aligners weekly, or every 10 days. Therefore, the rate of aligner change varies dependent on the patient and the case I am treating. Orthodontic treatment is tailored to the individual needs of that individual patient, and aligner treatment is no different.
WHAT ARE CHEWIES AND WHAT DO THEY DO?
One thing that I advise most of my Invisalign patients on is the use of "chewies". A chewie is a small cylindrical piece of silicon that a patient bites on to while wearing their aligners. It is reusable, and is about the size of a cotton roll.
As each aligner works on the basis of pushing teeth into their new positions, the fit of the aligner is one of the most important factors for successful Invisalign treatment. The better the aligner fits onto the teeth, the more likely the tooth movement that has been planned would have expressed itself. In order to make sure that the aligner sits fully onto the teeth, biting on the chewie for 1-2 minutes every time one replaces the aligner will help the aligners to engage the teeth more effectively.
Image from https://theteethblog.com/invisalign-chewies/
Better fitting aligners = Better clinical outcomes!
Your dentist or orthodontist will be able to advise on whether chewies are suitable for younger children having treatment with Invisalign aligners.
DO CHEWIES MAKE THE TEETH MOVE FASTER?
The aim of orthodontic treatment is to have healthy, straighter teeth along with a well-fitting bite. Slow and steady usually wins the race in orthodontic treatment, as the rate of tooth movement can affect the health of the teeth at the end of treatment. As mentioned above, the fit of the aligners is one of the most important factors in successful orthodontic treatment with aligners. Poor fitting aligners will mean that the teeth have not moved as planned, and this will often mean increased total treatment time.
Therefore, chewies may not make the teeth move faster, but they can “speed up” treatment by making sure the teeth move as planned.
HOW DO I USE MY CHEWIES?
To use the chewies:
Replace your aligners onto the teeth.
Hold firmly onto one end of the chewie with your fingers.
Place the other end of the chewie between the top and bottom teeth with your aligners in place.
Start from the center of mouth at the front teeth, and chew onto the chewie all the way to the back molar teeth on one side.
Repeat on the other side of the mouth.
Try not to pop the whole chewie into the mouth to chew randomly as one might accidently swallow or choke on the chewie.
I would advise patients to use their chewies:
- Whenever they’re starting a new aligner
- Every time they replace their aligners after meals or brushing their teeth
- If they notice any areas where the aligners are not fitting snugly over the teeth, especially closer to the end of the 2-week cycle.
Chewies are reusable, so after every chew, just give the chewie a rinse under tepid water and store them in your aligner case for their next use. You can also wash the chewie with a bit of handsoap to clean them. Replace your chewie once it feels like it has softened and does not provide resistance to chewing.
Therefore, if you're having Invisalign treatment, ask your dentist or orthodontist about chewies and whether you would benefit from this orthodontic accessory!
This blogpost is written by Dr May Eide, who's practise is restricted to Orthodontics. She provides braces and Invisalign treatments to children and adult patients at Skye Dental.