COVID-19 has affected our lives in many ways since last year, but those challenges don’t have to keep you from straightening your smile. Foley Orthodontics continues to offer a range of treatment options for anyone looking to improve their oral health, including clear aligners. This innovative system is already popular with our teen and adult patients, thanks to the removable design and clear material. While aligners offer patients an extra measure of flexibility, they also make it easier to stay safe and healthy with Invisalign during COVID-19!
In adjusting to a new sense of “normal” over the past several months, we have come to realize that clear aligner therapy is an excellent option for achieving a healthier smile during a pandemic. The treatment process itself is safe and effective, with the added benefit of being easier to navigate during these socially-distanced times. Keep reading below to learn why more patients than ever are choosing Invisalign for all their orthodontic needs!
Clear Aligners are Convenient
If you spend any time online, you’ve most likely seen the variety of clear aligners on the market. Even if you aren’t familiar with orthodontics, you probably know about using clear plastic aligners to straighten the teeth. While the design appears quite simple, the aligners actually work much like braces!
Clear aligners apply gentle, continuous pressure to shift the teeth into straighter positions over time. To produce the force necessary to move the teeth, it’s important to wear the aligners the 20-22 hours per day as recommended by Dr. Foley. Additionally, each aligner is switched for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks to account for the movements of your teeth. When patients are compliant with these guidelines, the trays can produce the same amazing results as traditional braces!
Clear aligner patients are typically provided with several weeks’ worth of aligners at a time, which means fewer visits to our office. That can be incredibly helpful when practicing socially distancing! If the current set of aligners runs out before the next scheduled appointment, our team can arrange curbside pickup so you can’t get your aligners safely. Patients who have questions can set up a virtual appointment to speak with Dr. Foley and discuss their concerns. Socially-distanced options such as these mean every patient can continue their treatment safely, conveniently, and without any delays.
Treatment is Easy to Troubleshoot
Once a patient has completed their last course of aligners, treatment may be complete. However, in some cases, we will need to schedule a revision scan to see if additional aligners are required to achieve the desired results. Temporary closings and occasional stay-at-home orders have sometimes affected our ability to get patients in quickly for this type of appointment, but aligners make it easy to troubleshoot solutions!
For example, anyone currently in aligners can continue wearing the last set they were given if we are not able to provide them with a new set right away. There is one difference—the aligners should be worn for only 10-12 hours a day instead of the normal 20-22 hours. Doing so helps extend the life of the aligners until an appointment is available. This keeps the patient’s treatment plan on track and ensures no progress is lost.
It is very important to keep constant pressure on the teeth both during (aligners) and after (retainer) treatment is complete. Without continuous force, the teeth will eventually begin to shift back into their previous places. This can happen more quickly than one might think and may lead to longer treatment times. For this reason, we recommend that patients always keep their aligners from the previous stage on hand in case they are needed while waiting for a new set to be delivered.
Aligners Makes it Simple to Maintain Oral Hygiene
One of the most consistent messages throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been the advice to keep our hands away from our face and mouth. This limits the spread of germs and slows the rate of infection. Unfortunately, aligner patients are unable to avoid touching their mouths during the treatment process. That means it is more important than ever to practice good hygiene, which is an easy task with removable aligners!
Patients will find it simple to keep up their oral health and care for their aligners. The trays are designed to be removed before eating, drinking anything other than water, and brushing and flossing the teeth. We recommend patients wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before removing aligners from the mouth. Special care should be taken with the fingernails and fingertips since these will come into the closest contact with the mouth and aligners.
Washing your hands is the first line of defense against germs and infection. This CDC video shows viewers how to do so quickly and effectively! If soap and water are unavailable, hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol can be used instead. These products are fast-acting and significantly reduce the number of germs on the skin.
Once aligners have been removed, they should always be placed in a clean sealed container or left to soak in an approved solution. This keeps them safe from germs and bacteria, and also prevents them from being accidentally misplaced (or thrown away!) Before putting aligners back in the mouth, patients should wash their hands again and rinse the aligner with water. Caring for aligners in this way becomes part of the daily routine in no time at all, and helps protect the patient’s oral and total body health.
Aligners Reduces the Chance of Orthodontic Emergencies
Traditional braces are made up of brackets and wires that can be bent or broken. This can occasionally lead to orthodontic emergencies that may require immediate attention. Because clear aligners are just one piece and made from a durable material called SmartTrack, emergencies with them tend to be few and far between. They are not indestructible, though—aligners can still tear, crack, or break, especially if they are not handled with care.
We ask patients to let us know any time an aligner is damaged or lost. If the damage is relatively minor, the aligner may still be worn until it is time for the next in the series. Patients should refrain from using any aligner that has cracked or split in a way that prevents it from holding its shape. Besides causing potential pain, it will not be able to provide the consistent pressure needed to move the teeth. In a case like this, we may need to make a replacement or Dr. Foley may recommend using the next aligner in the series.
Safely Straighten Your Smile with Foley Orthodontics
Even amidst the changes of the past year, it’s easy to stay safe and healthy with Invisalign during COVID-19. To learn more about this innovative treatment option, get in touch to schedule a FREE consultation with Dr. Foley!