Malocclusion is an abnormal alignment of the upper and lower teeth that can happen either due to unhealthy childhood habits or genetic factors. If left untreated, misaligned teeth can have dire consequences in the long run. While it’s true that oral health can be maintained with regular brushing and flossing, people may still develop certain dental problems owing to multiple factors.
Consulting an orthodontist at the right time, however, can prevent misalignment from adversely affecting your oral health. A visit to an orthodontist may naturally invoke images of strong metal braces in your mind. People put off visits to an orthodontist for this very reason as they would rather prefer living with an abnormal bite than have metal wires and brackets attached to their teeth.
Teenagers especially are not comfortable with how braces interfere with their teeth’ natural appearance. But the good news is that metal braces aren’t the only treatment option available today. Orthodontics has advanced from what it was a few years ago and patients can choose to have a more comfortable and discreet treatment that doesn’t interfere with their day-to-day life.
Clear aligners or removable braces are one such orthodontic treatment that doesn’t compromise comfort and aesthetics. This article will walk you through the different conditions treatable with clear aligners.
6 Orthodontic Conditions that can be Treated with Clear Aligners
Clear aligners are made from BPA-free plastic and are removable whenever the patient needs to brush, floss, or eat. Unlike metal braces that complicate oral hygiene while the treatment is in progress, clear aligners are simpler to maintain. Thinking whether clear aligners are the right solution for you? Let’s have a look at the list of dental conditions that can be treated with clear aligners:
Overbite is a condition in which the front teeth in the upper row overlap the front teeth in the lower row. You know you have an overbite if your upper front teeth protrude or stick out in a way that’s unpleasant and uncomfortable.
Overbite can lead to speech impediments, jaw joint issues, breathing problems, pain while chewing food, and even gum diseases. Thumb sucking, excess use of pacifiers, tongue thrusting, teeth grinding are some of the major causes of overbite. Clear aligners fix overbite by applying pressure on the teeth till they are moved to the desired position. You will need a series of aligner trays throughout the treatment course for the teeth to achieve optimal alignment.
You have a crossbite if your teeth aren’t aligned correctly when your mouth is closed. Normally when this happens, some of the upper teeth sit on the outside of the lower teeth. Crossbite interferes with the natural movement of the teeth while chewing.
Crossbite can be a result of a delay in tooth growth, bone structure problems,s or even childhood habits. Clear aligners can guide the upper teeth and lower teeth to the ideal position by widening or narrowing the jaw arches. They exert gentle pressure without causing pain to the patient.
This condition is quite the opposite of overbite. An underbite happens when the lower teeth stick out abnormally. The misaligned jaw can cause headaches and earaches if left untreated. An underbite results in increased strain on teeth, jaws, and facial muscles. Clear aligners work by moving the lower front teeth backward and pushing the upper front teeth forward. After replacing the trays in regular intervals as recommended by the orthodontist, your underbite should get fixed.
Open bite affects the front lower and upper teeth. The teeth don’t touch properly when the mouth is closed in case of an open bite. Open bite could be caused by pacifier sucking, thumb sucking, or tongue thrusting. Clear aligners can treat an open bite by pulling the teeth back to their ideal position. Clear dental aligners are recommended for mild to moderate cases of open bite. For severe cases, other dental procedures may be needed to fully correct the bite.
Crowded teeth, as the name suggests, are a condition where the teeth don’t have enough space to grow inside the mouth. The jaw is incapable of accommodating all the teeth properly resulting in congestion. Some teeth overlap with each other and the physical appearance of the teeth is ruined which also affects the self-esteem of an individual. Clear aligners work well in mild to moderate cases of crowded teeth. Depending on the severity, it may take anywhere from one to three years to get the condition fixed. Wearing the aligners for at least 20 to 22 hours daily is a must to get the best results.
As opposed to crowded teeth, gaps occur when there is extra room in the mouth. The jaw is either too large for the teeth or the teeth are too small for the jaw. You will see visible gaps between the teeth which affects the aesthetics of your smile. Plus, food particles get easily stuck increasing the risk of decay and cavities. Clear aligners can cure diastema by exerting pressure to reduce the gaps. Single small gaps can be rectified within 6-9 months whereas multiple gaps may take 1 to 2 years.
Malocclusion should be treated not just for aesthetic concerns but also to maintain good oral health. Clear aligners are much more cost and time-efficient compared to other orthodontic procedures. The need for longer and frequent dentist appointments is eliminated with clear aligners being one of the most hassle-free and comfortable treatment solutions. Aligners are customized to individual needs by taking a 3D scan or mold impression of the teeth. Plus, there is no fear of injuring the insides of the mouth with sharp metal wires and brackets.
Though the dental problems discussed here are treatable with clear aligners, you need to consult an orthodontist to understand the severity of the issue and opt for a treatment plan as recommended by the doctor. For extremely severe cases, your dentist may recommend clear aligners with a combination of other procedures too. Children must be taken to an orthodontist by the age of seven to start treatment when the jaws are still growing and developing.