While developing the website for Art of Orthodontics I decided to correct a defect in my own bite. I reviewed several options and narrowed them down to braces, a dual jaw elasto positioner appliance, and clear aligners. Almost initially I ruled out braces because they require more care to keep clean from food. It also helped to know that modern treatment options were feasible in my case.
First I decided to try out the elasto positioner appliance. After the initial consultation, the impressions of my teeth were taken and then sent to the lab to be used to create the polymer mold. I was then to wear the appliance for 14 hours a day for 6 month or longer. Wearing it in my sleep fulfilled the largest part of the 14 hours, however for the other 6 I would have to wear it at work. This proved to be more then mildly inconvenient because with my mouth relaxed I wasn't able to fully close my lips and when I had to speak I would have to discreetly remove the appliance from my mouth. Two weeks later, overwhelmed by the disadvantages of this type of treatment I decided to move on to clear aligners.
After another consultation, my impressions were taken again and sent to another lab. When my OrthoSnap treatment package arrived it included 14 sets of clear aligners. I was to switch to a different set every few weeks until my treatment was complete.
To improve effectiveness of treatment with clear aligners, attachments have to be added to some teeth. These attachments usually come in the shape of small beads and are created from the same composite material that is used for restorations. These beads then provide strong points of leverage to re-position the root of the tooth. The extra grip allows orthodontists to plan and execute more complex movements that would be possible without them. In my case, the installation of two attachments was necessary. The procedure was painless and completed in less then 20 minutes.
First Impression With Clear Aligners
After the attachments were installed and the first set of aligners were slid onto my teeth, I was pleased by their precise fit. Although I wasn't able to experience the feeling of clenching my teeth together, I was able to close my mouth naturally.
My first spoken words while wearing the aligners were "thank you", however to my surprise they came out with a slight lisp. On the second try, I adjusted my mouth and the lisp was gone; It would take me two more days before I could speak without much thought.
There was feeling that something was floating between my molars when my mouth was in a relaxed state. This feeling persisted for three days. On a few occasions it overwhelmed me and I had to remove the aligners for a few hours at a time. Removing them proved to be much trickier then wearing them. The bottom one slid off easily when I gripped it's sides with my fingers and pulled it off. The top aligner was more difficult to remove. I would have to pry at the base of the top incisors with my fingernails to slide it past the two round attachment points.
I removed the aligners before each meal and stored them in a napkin. Napkins however could prove difficult to track in a busy restaurant if a waiter feels the need to tidy up the table between courses. I highly recommend investing in a dedicated case to store these aligners when they are not in use.
Sleeping with the aligners in place was far easier then with the elasto positioner. It took many nights of waking up and searching for the elasto positioner appliance because my unconscious body decided to remove the foreign object. In contrast, even on the first night wearing the clear aligners I woke up in the morning with them fit snugly around my teeth.