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Clear Aligner Basics
What is Clear Aligner Therapy?
What is Clear Aligner Therapy?

How aligners work

Dr. Alex Molayem avatar
Written by Dr. Alex Molayem
Updated over a week ago

Clear aligner treatment has become both a popular consumer choice and a practical tool in the hands of experienced Dentists in many practices. In one study, it was reported that over 45% of GP practices offer clear aligner therapy today.

The popularity of clear aligners can largely be attributed to their convenience and aesthetics. Clear aligners have come a long way in their clinical capabilities. We rarely debate the advantages of clear aligners over braces when clear aligner therapy is applied in reasonable clinical cases and under the direct care of trained dental providers. At Orthosnap, our mission is to push the capabilities of clear aligners forward and while technology can certainly add to our experience, we believe that the dental professional is and always will be a fundamental piece of this relationship.

How do clear aligners work?

Clear aligners are plastic sheets that thermoform to the patient's teeth. The teeth are moved by applying consistent pressure over time, which stimulates cellular (osteoclastic & osteoblastic) activity. Gradually, by incremental movements, the teeth are moved into the desired position to support a healthy occlusion and aesthetically pleasing smile.

While clear aligners date back more than 70 years, the technology of mass production made the device truly widespread for traditional orthodontic treatment. And while technology further continues to create efficiencies and capabilities, Orthosnap offers an innovative and effective solution to the shortcomings of traditional 3D printed clear aligners systems. Our technology allows us to reduce Attachments and IPR commonly required by other brands.

Osteoblastic and Osteoclastic Activity

When force is applied to a tooth consistently, such as with aligners, tooth movement is possible due to osteoblastic and osteoclastic activity.

The consistent pressure first breaks down bone in the jaw in a process called osteoclastic activity. This allows the tooth to move. While this is occurring, osteoblastic activity is building up new bone in the space left behind the moving tooth.

This process takes approximately 48-72 hours to begin, and the longer the force is applied, the more consistent this process is. On the flip side, it only takes around four hours for it to stop. Once it stops, it takes time for it to start back up again.

This is important to remember, as leaving aligners out for even a few hours can halt tooth movement for several days. It also means that the most important work is being done during the first few days of a new aligner, or step, as this is when the aligner is applying maximum force.

When educating your patients, it is helpful to make sure they understand this process. Help them to realize the importance of wearing their aligners as much as possible—at least 22 hours a day. It is also a good idea to keep in mind that if aligners must be removed for an extended time, it is best to avoid this during the first few days of a new step.

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