To be able to laugh boldly and show beautiful teeth at the same time. Many adults would still like to fulfill this wish.
Especially if the position of their teeth was not corrected when they were young. A great smile can be liberating, and beautiful teeth increase our confidence. Well-aligned teeth also can improve chewing and biting and can prevent gum inflammation because the correct interdental space allows thorough cleaning.
If you suffer from a misalignment of your teeth, it is still possible to correct it in adulthood – for example, with clear aligners, because they are practically invisible in everyday life. But doing it under doctor’s supervision is essential. Any intervention to change the position of the teeth –is a medical procedure that moves teeth through bone.
Therefore, it’s necessary that the patient’s oral health, including the condition of the individual’s mouth, gums, teeth, roots, and underlying structures of the jaw, are thoroughly assessed by an accredited dentist or orthodontist before the start of therapy. They are continuously monitored throughout any course of treatment.
The patient must also be able to have a conversation about all the treatment options that are available. The dentist or orthodontist should determine independently what is the most suitable treatment. On top of that, the examination by a doctor is the beginning of every tooth correction. This should be maintained throughout treatment.
Oral health does not come by the book
Internet provides consumers with access to information as has never been possible before. They can even purchase aligner therapy online. It also provides some information on health issues and enables comparisons between offerings on the market. But oral health does not come by the book. No remote scan can replace the trained eye of a doctor.
The even bite, the jaw position, the condition of individual teeth and gums, any existing pre-conditions which may affect dental treatment – these are factors that need to be examined by a doctor in an in-person initial consultation.
Teeth straightening with clear aligners is not just an aesthetic procedure. It is a medical therapy in which the patient’s teeth are moved in the jawbone. The process requires regular personal check-ups with a trained dentist or orthodontist from the initial diagnosis to the completion of treatment.
Assessed and resolved
Besides, offering aligner therapy without a dentist or orthodontist in person examination is not an accepted medical standard in Germany. General professional standards – including the Federal Dental Association guidance of 25 February 2019 – require in person examination and doctors’ involvement in treatment.
A discussion between the patient and the doctor about what results the patient may expect from the therapy – and what can be achieved with which method, at what cost – is a mandatory first step. It should be discussed during the initial appointment at the practice.
Then comes the examination. During this, the doctor takes a 3D scan of the patient’s mouth with an intraoral scanner (or classic impressions). The doctor will take review of recent radiographs or other bone imaging studies to check the structures under the gumline. If necessary, they will take additional digital scans of the jaw and photographs the patient’s mouth and face.
Patients are not always aware whether they are or not good candidates for orthodontic treatment, including clear aligner therapy. They may have cavities or underlying conditions – for example, periodontal disease – that must be assessed and resolved before treatment can safely take place. Only an in-person exam by a licensed dentist or orthodontist can make this determination.
A process that needs guidance
Established providers such as Align Technology, which has already treated nearly 13 million patients over 25 years with its Invisalign clear aligner system, offer Itero intraoral scanners for doctors to accurately record the initial situation of the patient’s smile. Align leverages data from nearly 13 million Invisalign cases. This helps Invisalign-trained doctors to plan predictable treatment outcomes for their patients.
A series of individually fitted clear aligners are produced to be worn by the patient in succession. They alternate between one and two weeks, as prescribed their doctor. Each new aligner brings the teeth a little closer to the desired final position. The aligners are prescribed by the doctor and are specially made for the individual treatment needs of each patient based on doctor’s prescription
The dentist or orthodontist oversees the entire treatment, monitors the course of therapy, and thus ensures that the desired result is achieved. As a rule, the patient goes for a check-up approximately every six weeks.
The orthodontist or dentist keeps track of the process, can explain, encourage – and sometimes even admonish. At the same time, patients who opt for Invisalign aligners also have an app on their mobile phone that they can use to track their treatment progress themselves.
Dr Michaela Sehnert, who has already successfully completed many tooth corrections in her practice in Halle, also advises close supervision by the specialist.
‘A tooth correction is not cosmetics, and clear aligners are not a lifestyle product,’ she said.
‘Invisalign clear aligners are designated as a Class IIa medical device by the European Union, same as traditional bracket and wire braces.
‘This means that they must meet the highest quality standards in production and application. This only works if a dentist or orthodontist plans the treatment. Supervision by a specialist is always recommended.’
The app provides support
During treatment with Invisalign, treatment progress is clearly visible via an app on the patient’s mobile phone. The app motivates by showing how well things are progressing. But it also prevents mistakes.
For example, the My Invisalign app shows which aligners are currently in place. After uploading photos of the teeth and the aligners in use, the app and the doctor check if everything is going according to plan between appointments. In addition, the app reminds the patient of the next check-up appointment.
Markus Sebastian is executive vice president and managing director, EMEA at Align Technology. He said: ‘The combination of medical competence and supporting digital technology makes the difference for the patient when straightening teeth.
‘In a treatment that lasts several months, safety, guidance and continuous support from a doctor are crucial to protect patients’ health. But also to enable them to smile with confidence.’
For more information visit www.invisalign.com