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Before aligner treatment: a checklist to get you started!

starting aligner treatment

Table of contents

#1 Looking for a confidence boost? Invest in your dental health!

#2 Your checklist for optimal gum health

#3 Most important things to check at your local dentist

#4 Before aligner treatment FAQs

#5 Tips for perfect dental health before treatment

#6 No time to see a dentist? We’ve got you covered

Dental health is all about keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Even though aesthetics are important, you shouldn’t change your smile before making sure it is healthy. That’s why it is crucial to make sure everything is well taken care of when you’re considering getting started with aligner treatment.

#1 Looking for a confidence boost? Invest in your dental health!

In addition to the physical health benefits of keeping a good oral health, dental health is directly connected with the way we perceive ourselves and interact with other people. Not only can keeping a good oral health make you healthier, it can also give you the boost of confidence you need.

When it comes to moving teeth with invisible aligners, your teeth need to be in a healthy condition. And that means no holes, cavities or weakened enamel are allowed!

Any existing dental issues should be treated by your dentist beforehand, otherwise aligners may not be able to move your teeth properly.

#2 Your checklist for optimal gum health

While oral health is immediately associated with our teeth, we do overlook our gums as an essential part of it. Gums form the foundation that holds our teeth into our jaw. If your gums are unhealthy, your teeth are automatically weaker.

Healthy vs unhealthy gums

If your gums are unhealthy your dental impressions at home may come across with errors. That will delay the process and your aligners may not be the perfect fit they should! In some cases, you might even need to redo them when your gums are healthier.

Healthy gums for most accurate teeth impressions

If you want your impressions to be right the first time, you need to make sure the health of your gums is tip-top.

  • Bye bye Tartar! Get your teeth professionally cleaned. Dentists use an ultrasonic scaler (which shoots water) to clean around all the teeth and under the gums. This will make sure all the tartar is removed.
  • Use an electric toothbrush. These are more effective at cleaning your teeth and gums due to the vibration, which means more plaque is removed and swollen gums can gradually turn healthy and tighter around the teeth. To help you out with it, we’ve put together an oral care pack including one Instant Dentist™ Smartpower Ultrasonic Toothbrush, which removes up to 70% more plaque than a manual brush, as well as a handy oral irrigator. If you’re interested in getting one, just message us through your message tab in your secure app account.
  • Get a mouthwash. Examples include Peroxyl, Listerine and numerous other brands. This will help keep your breath fresh and will also kill bad bacteria that could cause gum problems.
  • Clean in-between your teeth by flossing or using an oral irrigator. Get to those hard to reach areas and clean them effectively. Doing it twice a day in all the hard to reach areas will help reduce swollen gums.

healthy gums checklist

#3 Most important things to check at your local dentist

Regular checkups are the best way to prevent future issues with your teeth, the general recommendation is to visit your dentist or hygienist for a clean and check up every 6 to 12 months depending on your personal needs.

3.1 What to ask your dentist before starting aligner treatment

Make sure to ask for a BPE (Basic Periodontal Exam) check. This is a simple check where the dentist or hygienist measures the gums in 6 areas around the mouth. They will then record 6 numbers, which explain how healthy the gums are.

BPE gum classification

When getting your teeth and gums cleaned it’s important they clean under the gumline as well to remove any calculus or tartar below the gums. Your gums may bleed slightly but that’s normal, so don’t panik! Just follow the instructions given by the dentist and you’ll have perfect gums in no time.

3.2 Are x-rays mandatory for cosmetic teeth straightening?

X-rays are useful for checking tooth decay and wisdom teeth. Even though they are not mandatory, it is recommended to have them to ensure your dental health is top notch. If you have access to recent ones, you will have the option to upload them via your Straight Teeth Direct account. 

If you want to read more on why x-rays are not mandatory to start your aligner treatment just click here.

#4 Before starting aligner treatment FAQs

4.1 Can I get aligners with wisdom teeth?

Having wisdom teeth isn’t an issue for getting straight teeth, as long as they are healthy.

It’s then perfectly fine to straighten teeth when wisdom teeth are present or even moving into position. Wisdom teeth play no role in achieving or changing the outcome of cosmetic teeth straightening.

4.2 Can I straighten my teeth with tooth fillings?

Having tooth fillings usually present no issues at all as the tooth shape isn’t changed in a meaningful way. However you should always inform your assigned dentist of all dental procedures you have done before starting aligner treatment.

4.3 Can I get my teeth straightened with crowns, bridges, implants or veneers?

That’s a completely different story and you should inform us of what you are having done in order for one of our dentists to evaluate if it will affect your teeth straightening journey in any way.

If you are thinking of improving your front teeth shapes then having cosmetic bonding on the front teeth should only be done after straightening. Cosmetic teeth bonding can interfere with tooth movement caused by the aligners, is subject to falling off during the treatment, and the result would always be better after straightening.

4.4 What dental records should I share?

Sharing your BPE gum scores and your most recent x-rays (it’s fine if they are 12-18 months old IF you are dentally healthy) is helpful for your assigned orthodontist to review when preparing your report.

*You can sign a disclaimer if you don’t want to share them.

4.5 Can I ignore tooth decay and cavities before using invisible aligners?

That’s a definite no. You need to be dentally healthy to start clear aligner treatment.

Tooth decay is commonly caused by sugary foods which produce acid that attacks the surface and structure of our teeth. This weakens the enamel, causing the tooth to become darker and sensitive over time. This eventually can lead to cavities. These cavities weaken the tooth and cause a lot of pain if the decay extends into the nerve of the tooth, as then you would need a root canal. 

Aligners act to move teeth by gripping teeth firmly and delivering a gentle force. If a tooth is weakened from decay it can be more sensitive and not move properly, in cases where there is decay between teeth because they cross over then the aligner movement can mean that you see dark decayed areas as the teeth align. 

This is why it is important to ensure you have any decay treated and sealed before starting aligner treatment.


#5 Tips for perfect teeth health before aligners

  • Get into the habit of brushing and flossing your teeth regularly throughout the day. Brushing after meals helps remove anything that could cause tooth decay and helps strengthen your teeth with another dose of fluoride.
  • Don’t forget to floss. Flossing will help clean your teeth further, removing excess plaque and food that may get stuck in your teeth.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and foods as they’re not good for your teeth or your overall health.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride helps protect and strengthen your teeth. After brushing, spit but don’t rinse to give more time for the fluoride to be absorbed into your teeth.
  • Get your teeth checked. Some decay is only visible in an x-ray, so make sure you get your teeth checked by a dentist to see if there are any cavities hiding. Some decay can be reversed through improving your diet, while others need to be treated with fillings.

#6 No time to see a dentist? We’ve got you covered!

While it’s important to ensure you’re dentally healthy before and throughout your entire teeth straightening journey, not everyone has time for regular dentist visits and some may even be affected with dental phobia.
Thanks to our sister dental health platform, Instant Dentist™, you can now get an e-consultation with a trusted dentist and discuss any area of concern you may have before seeking the help from your local dentist or in between your annual check ups. This innovative teledentistry solution provides cost effective private dental advice and tailored at home regimens at the touch of a button.

If you have any doubts or questions, our smile coordinators and the clinical team are always here to help and guide you.

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