ClearCorrect manufactures aligners at their headquarters in Round Rock, Texas. Once a doctor evaluates a patient for clear aligners and determines that the patient is a candidate, impressions and photos are taken and sent to ClearCorrect to start the process of creating custom made aligners for that patient. ClearCorrect then takes these impressions and scans them into a computer software program that creates a 3D model of the patient’s teeth. ClearCorrect takes the computer images and manipulates them to achieve the desired position prescribed by the treating doctor. The doctor then reviews these images online in what ClearCorrect calls a “treatment setup” which also includes the estimated number of steps needed to complete the treatment along with the amount of IPR (interproximal reduction) the treatment will require. Once approved, a series of plastic aligners are created for each stage of the patient’s treatment and shipped to the treating doctor in phases. Phases include up to four sets of aligners at a time and include plastic models of each step along with an engager template, if necessary.
A patient undergoing treatment with ClearCorrect is instructed to wear the aligners 22 hours a day. They are removed when eating or drinking and to brush and floss your teeth. The patient sees the providing dentist every six weeks and is given two sets of aligners at a time. Each set is worn for three weeks and the patient is instructed when to change to the next aligner. The patient typically feels significant pressure when starting a new aligner and the pressure gradually subsides as the aligner is worn over the three-week span. When treatment is completed, the patient is given the final set of aligners to be worn as retainers. Retainers are recommended to be worn for the remainder of the patient’s life, usually at night time, to help maintain the final result of treatment. The retainers can be easily replaced if worn out or lost.
Advantages of clear aligners
- Invisibility: its main advantage is that it is virtually invisible.
- Hygiene & convenience: the patient can remove the aligners when eating or brushing.
- Comfort: custom fit and minimally invasive. No wires and brackets.
- Viewing: see a 3D representation of the before and after of the desired objectives.
- Allergies to metals: due to its composition, is ideal for patients with allergies to metals.
Disadvantages of clear aligners
- Limitation of movement: the system is limited to certain cases and the amount of movement that can be done.
- Compliance: being a removable device implies an advantage and a disadvantage. If the patient does not cooperate in actually wearing the aligners, treatment may fail. This is particularly important in adolescents. If the patient takes the aligner out of their mouth and doesn’t wear it the required amount of time per day, the trays can stop tracking and might not fit properly.
Tooth modifications are sometimes necessary to achieve the desired results with clear aligner therapy.
- Engagers (also known as buttons or attachments) – In order to apply the appropriate amount of pressure to the teeth, engagers consisting of tooth colored resin are attached to some teeth during the course of treatment. The engagers are removed at the end of treatment.
- Interproximal Reduction (also known as “IPR”) – IPR is done by the doctor using an abrasive disc or strip. The doctor uses the abrasive device to gently file between two teeth to create space in order to move teeth into the desired position. The amount of tooth structure removed is very minimal (up to 0.1mm-0.3mm per visit) and there is no significant increase in sensitivity or chance of decay.