Why Teeth Move After Braces/Aligners & What You Should Do

So you’re considering clear aligner treatment as a way to straighten your teeth? You’re definitely not alone. Around 1.5% of the population (some 5 million adults and teens) have opted for clear aligners over conventional bracket and wire style braces in recent years. If you are considering taking the plunge, here are some useful pointers on how you can get the most out of your treatment.

Adopt the 48-hour guideline

During the first 48 hours, most people won’t feel much like wearing their aligners because…well…. things can get a little uncomfortable. While this is understandable, did you know that it’s also the vital period when most of the tooth movement takes place?

Leaving your transparent aligners in for as long as possible will ensure any tooth movement remains on track. So as a top transparent aligner tip…for the first 48 hours, try to keep them in for at least 22 hours. The longer you wear them, the better the tooth movement transition, so you’ve really got to stick with it.

Treatment success depends on how much time the aligners are worn.

Stick to the rules

‘Rules are rules’ as the saying goes, and if you really want to get the best out of your clear aligner treatment, it’s best to stick to a plan. There may well be a tendency to want to change an aligner before it’s due to try and speed up the process, or to skip the odd one or two in the sequence, but here’s why this isn’t a good idea…

When force or movement is applied to the tooth, cells in the tissue and bone are compelled to act. These cells (known as osteoblasts and osteoclasts) take away and rebuild bone respectively and remodel it around the newly moved tooth. However, there is often a delay or time lag between the tooth movement and the bone rebuilding process. In some people, this can be a speedy affair, while in others, it takes longer. In other words, every patient and every tooth is different.

Typically this is why there’s a two-week timeline for each aligner. The first few days to move the tooth into position, and the rest of the time to complete the bone reformation. So even though the teeth may appear in the correct position, the bone tissue is still playing catch-up. To change or skip trays at this stage means that they may not fit when you do put them back in your mouth and guess what? Your doctor can tell — so there’s no point in trying to fake it!

So what about when you haven’t followed the rules, are there things that orthodontists can do?

Well….aside from applying some motivational psychology your doctor has several ways to ensure the teeth straightening process gets right back on track. These include

Revision trays: These are worn to complete unfinished treatment goals.
Mid-course corrections: Where a new phase is started from the current teeth position.

Backtracking: Where the patient has additional time in a previous aligner, in order that the teeth track correctly before the next aligner is worn.

However, if you happen to be a non-compliant patient for whatever reason, remember that each of these processes will add time on to your existing clear aligner treatment.

Don’t lose your clear aligners

Let’s face it, it’s easy to misplace your keys, wallet, or cell phone, so losing a virtually transparent aligner for teeth has to be a piece of cake right? After all, they’re not called invisible aligners for nothing!

So whether the dog’s chewed it, it got wrapped in a napkin and thrown in the bin, or you left it in your favorite restaurant, misplacing your clear aligner isn’t ideal. Especially as you could undo all that hard work, by not having an aligner in place.

As a preventative measure, one of the best things you can do is to learn to love your aligner case. Many cases come in funky designs and are brightly colored for a reason. So keep your case handy in order to pop your aligner in every time you eat, drink, or brush your teeth. This way you’ll know exactly where it is and you shouldn’t lose it. Well…that’s the theory anyway 🙂

If you do lose an aligner you should seek advice from your clear aligner experts. It could be that you’ve been wearing the missing aligner for over a week. In this case, it might be acceptable to move on to the next one in the series.

Alternatively, if you’re only one or two days into the cycle, chances are you’ll be issued with a replacement aligner, but this will usually come at an extra expense.

Pro tip – Always keep your previous aligner, just in case. This way, should you lose it you’ll always have something to fall back on, to stop your teeth from regressing.

So there you have it – 3 top tips for getting the most from your clear aligner treatment!

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