Tag Archives: invisalign clear aligners

Clear Aligners Make it Easier for Teenagers to have Their Teeth Straightened

clear aligners.

Braces can change a person’s life — not just their appearance but their dental health as well. To be honest, though, wearing braces are, well, kind of a drag — especially for teenagers.

Braces can be restrictive and confining; you’ll also have to give up certain favorite foods for a while. But more than any of that, they’re just plain unattractive. Even being able to choose colors for the brackets and elastic bands can’t fully ease a teenager’s embarrassment when they smile.

There is, however, an alternative to braces: clear aligners. And they could make orthodontic treatment during this difficult phase of their life much easier to handle.

Clear aligners are a set of clear plastic trays that can be taken in and out of the mouth. Each of the custom-designed trays is slightly smaller from the previous one in the series. After wearing the first tray for a couple of weeks (at least 20 to 22 hours a day), the patient switches to the next tray in the series. They repeat this process until they’ve worn all the trays. The gradual change from tray to tray moves the teeth to the desired position.

Clear aligners have some distinct advantages over braces, especially for younger patients. They can be removed for cleaning or for a rare special event. They don’t limit movement as much as braces. And, they’re nearly invisible — other people may not even notice them. And newer aligners are now designed with tiny “power ridges” that increase their movement capabilities. This has made them more useful for teenagers with complicated bite problems and other issues.

There are cases, though, where braces may be the better choice: where you need more control over tooth movement or the patient needs jaw surgery to achieve proper tooth alignment. And their removability could be an issue if the patient won’t leave them in their mouth for the necessary time each day.

To find out if clear aligners might be a viable option for your teenager, visit us for a complete orthodontic examination. We can then discuss your best option — clear aligners or braces — to achieve the most desirable outcome for your teenager.

If you would like more information on treating bite problems in teenagers with clear aligners, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700 for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Clear Aligners for teens.”

Clear Aligners Provide a Less Embarrassing Orthodontic Choice for Teens


For decades, traditional braces were the only orthodontic choice for moving misaligned teeth. Although they’re quite effective, they can cause discomfort and, for teens especially, embarrassment due to their noticeable metallic appearance.

In recent years, though, technology has produced an alternative to braces that’s proven effective for many types of patients. Besides being less cumbersome and disruptive to everyday life than braces, clear aligners have another advantage that appeals to teens — they’re much less visible.

Introduced in the late 1990s, clear aligners are a system of individual trays made of nearly invisible polyurethane plastic worn over the upper teeth. The trays are computer-generated based on the patient’s individual mouth structure captured in photographs and x-rays. Each tray in the sequence is incrementally smaller in size; the patient begins wearing the first aligner in the series for about two weeks, 20 to 22 hours a day. They then switch to the next tray in the series for about the same amount of time, and continue in this fashion until they’ve worn each aligner in the series.

Besides their improvement in appearance, aligners also have another advantage: unlike traditional braces, aligners can be removed from the mouth for eating or on a limited basis for rare important social occasions. Brushing and flossing are also much easier with aligners, which don’t pose the same access problems as traditional braces.

Clear aligners were once only effective with select types of orthodontic patients, which didn’t always include teens. Over the last decade, however, significant changes to design and additional implements have widened their application to more patients, especially teens. For example, we can now add tiny “power ridges” to the aligner design that give greater precision over desired tooth movement to create a more controlled and efficient force on the teeth. More recent aligners are also being produced with a thinner, more comfortable material.

A thorough orthodontic exam will tell whether your teen is a good candidate for clear aligners. If so, they’ll benefit from a more comfortable and less embarrassing experience while gaining a new smile for life.

If you would like more information on clear aligners, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700 for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Clear Aligners for Teens.”

A Clear Alternative for Adult Orthodontic Treatment

clear aligners.

It’s a fact that everything in life changes. Tooth alignment is no exception. Even if you were blessed as a child with perfectly positioned pearly whites or achieved them thanks to successful orthodontic therapy, with the passage of time, you may be noticing more space between some teeth and more crowding among others. Perhaps you’ve considered doing something about it, but discounted the idea out of concern for the potential personal and/or professional impact of wearing traditional metal braces. If that is the case, then Invisalign clear orthodontic aligners may be a solution.

This treatment uses a series of transparent plastic aligners — each slightly different than the one that precedes it — which you wear for about 22 hours a day. About every two weeks, you “graduate” to the next aligner in the progression (or set of aligners if your treatment involves both the upper and lower teeth) as your teeth are gently shifted into the improved final positioning. Besides being practically invisible when worn, aligners can be removed for eating, drinking, social events and brushing and flossing — a clear advantage over traditional braces, which are cemented in place. They’re also comfortable because there are no rough edges or wires. Total treatment time ranges from 6 months to two years, depending on the degree of movement required.

The main consideration in determining whether clear aligners can work for you is the type and extent of movement required. The system is most effective when crowding or spacing of teeth is mild to moderate, and ideally, you should already have a good “bite” — i.e., your back teeth fit together properly. When crowding or spacing is more severe, or if your bite is off and your upper and lower jaws don’t meet well, traditional braces may be the better treatment option. Certain movements are more difficult and less predictable with clear aligners — such as closing extraction spaces, uprighting teeth, and rotating, torqueing or other complex movements.

Dental health can also be a factor for adult patients. Gum disease, which is more prevalent as we age, can lead to the loss of tooth-supporting bone. Orthodontic treatment works by moving teeth within the supporting bone, and can aggravate bone loss. Bone loss isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but active gum disease must be brought under control before orthodontic treatment can proceed. Certain medical conditions elsewhere in the body may preclude treatment and drugs used for arthritis or osteoporosis can make tooth movement more difficult.

Our office can perform an assessment to determine whether you are a good candidate for clear aligners. Although change is inevitable, it can work to your advantage when it comes to orthodontic treatment!

If you would like more information about clear orthodontic aligners, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700 or request a consultation appointment online. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Orthodontics For The Older Adult” and “Clear Orthodontic Aligners.”

Faith Hill Wears Her Braces Proudly

faith hill.

When she stepped on stage at the recent Grammy Awards ceremony, country music star Faith Hill made a stunning impression: She had a black gown by J. Mendel, a Bottega Veneta clutch, shoes by Tom Ford, a handsome man standing beside her (her husband, fellow country star Tim McGraw)… and a big smile that showcased her new braces.

The 45-year-old songstress didn’t seem the least bit shy about flashing the orthodontic appliances, which had been placed on her teeth just a few months before. In fact, she joins a growing list of adult celebrities — and regular folks too — who know that it’s never too late to get the smile you’ve always wanted.

If you thought that braces are just for kids, you may be surprised to learn that today, around two in ten orthodontic patients are grown-ups. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Research shows that the incidence of bite problems (malocclusions) in adults is comparable to that of children and adolescents: That means perhaps three-quarters of adults have a condition that could benefit from orthodontic treatment.

Why would an adult choose to have orthodontic treatment? One reason is for its potential health benefits. Misaligned teeth are often much harder to clean properly, and poor oral hygiene can pave the way for gum disease and tooth decay.

Another reason is to enhance your career prospects… and your social life. Several studies have indicated that orthodontic treatment can increase self-confidence, and even improve career opportunities. Plus, a recent survey found that having good teeth was the #1 criterion by which both men and women rate the attractiveness of potential partners. So there are plenty of reasons to get treatment.

If you haven’t looked closely at orthodontic appliances since you were a kid, you might also be surprised at how far the technology has progressed. Fixed appliances — that is, traditional metal braces — are still the “gold standard” for treating moderate to complex bite problems. But even all-metal braces are smaller than they used to be, because the small brackets that hold the arch wire are now bonded to the teeth with special adhesives, instead of always being fastened with wide metal bands.

For those seeking a less-obvious alternative to traditional braces, it’s often possible to use translucent (tooth-colored) brackets instead of metal ones. That’s the treatment of choice for many celebrities like Tom Cruise — and Faith Hill. They’re a lot harder to notice than the all-metal type, and some find they fit better with their self-image.

In some cases, it may even be possible to opt for “lingual” braces, which are placed on the tongue side of the teeth. They offer an alternative that’s truly invisible — only you will know they’re there.

Finally, if your bite problems are mild to moderate, you may be able to get good treatment results from Invisalign clear aligners. These are a series of transparent plastic “trays” that fit over your teeth and gradually move them into a better position. They’re designed to be worn for 22 hours a day, but they can be removed for important occasions — like award speeches.

So if your smile — or your life — could use some perking up, take a tip from stars like Faith Hill: Don’t let the fact that you’re an adult stop you from getting orthodontic treatment. As the singer recently tweeted, “I’ve seen your posts and the news coverage on my braces… woah!! Wear your braces proudly.”

If you would like more information about orthodontic treatment for adults, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700 to schedule an appointment for a consultation or request your appointment online. You can also read the Dear Doctor article “The Magic of Orthodontics.”