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Refinement Aligners – Why you may need aligner overcorrection

Straight Teeth Direct clear aligners refinements

Whether you’re looking into starting aligner treatment, want to be certain you’re choosing the right option or wondering if all aligners are covered even if more are needed than predicted, you may have come across something called refinement aligners. You might even be in the middle of your treatment and have just been told you’re entering the refinement stage. We receive many questions about what they are, why they’re necessary, how long they take, and how much they cost, so in this blog, we aim to clear up all those doubts and demystify refinement aligners for you once and for all.

#1 What are refinement aligners?

In the clear aligner technique, it is normal to have what we call refinement aligners, which are required when one or more teeth do not behave as anticipated. Refinements are part of a new analysis and refreshed tooth movement plan to ensure the movement of less responsive teeth. Think of them as additional aligners to the initial orthodontic prescription, a sort of support to get your teeth 100% on track.
In order to make refinements, the lab often needs to digitise a new set of impressions for analysis and digital design to create the new tooth movement plan, and ensure its accuracy.

#2 Why are refinement aligners necessary?

Each and every one of us has our own bone, tissue structure and hardness, which affects the planned movements and forces applied by invisible aligners. Some movements are harder to execute and plan than others. For example, a rotational movement of a tooth is tougher to predict than the expansion of the whole arch or leaning a tooth forwards. Everyone is different, and individual biologic response to teeth straightening treatment is simply not possible to predict. This means that after all the aligners have been worn, we may still need a bit more movement.  This is known as the refinement aligner stage and is fully covered by the Straight Teeth Direct™ guarantee.

#3 How can refinements be avoided?

While refinements cannot be avoided in all cases due to individual tooth responsiveness, there are certain measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of requiring them. Essentially, the most important thing is to wear your regular aligners exactly as prescribed in your treatment plan. This means wearing them 22h a day for a minimum of 2 weeks as instructed. Though intermittent wear might not be the end of the world, straying from the treatment plan in any way can cause serious progress delays, as your teeth won’t have enough time to settle in their new position or achieve the necessary movement for each stage.
If refinement aligners do become necessary as a result of our individual teeth’s biological responsiveness to the treatment, here’s how to wear them…

#3 How are refinement aligners worn?

The Straight Teeth Direct™ refinement aligners are designed to ensure optimal movements and space creation. They should be worn the same way as all other aligners: 22 hours a day for the duration outlined in the new plan. Simple!
As the teeth have been shown to be less biologically responsive, they sometimes include A&B soft and hard protocol, as at the beginning of your treatment, to ensure the maximum movement possible.

#4 When can you tell that refinement aligners are necessary?

It is never possible to know whether or not anyone will need refinements at the start of their straight teeth journey. As we all react individually to the aligner forces, some of us allow less tooth movement than programmed due to our reduced biological response. Everyone is different and individual biologic response is not possible to predict. It’s necessary to wear the full course of the first programmed set of aligners to ensure maximum movement, then any new refinements can be planned from there, to reach the final smile goal safely and effectively.
At Straight Teeth Direct™ your progress is monitored every step of the way so actions can be taken if adjustments need to be made in case you went off track or some aligners did not fit and the clinical team will inform you if refinements are required after comparing your final predicted models with your actual tooth movement achieved. This is why it is essential to get your aligners delivered in stages based on your progress so we can guarantee the most ideal end results.

#5 How long does the refinement stage take?

In terms of the production process at Straight Teeth Direct™, this stage can take between 3-5 weeks (getting new impressions if needed, digitising them, rebooting your plan, and producing the aligners – all at our very own lab). We always do our best to get everything done as quickly as possible and don’t charge any extra for the whole process. Other at-home aligner companies and in-clinic solutions may take longer, as they need to outsource the production of the aligners.
In terms of how many more aligners are required or how long the overall refinement stage will take, this varies by individual movements needed. The actual movement phase will vary from person to person, just like the initial treatment plan, and is monitored closely.

#6 How much do refinement aligners cost?

As the refinement stage is an additional stage to regular treatment, ensuring you achieve the results originally set out in your plan, it would typically cost you upwards of £400 with in-clinic and other at-home aligner solutions. Your results are our number one priority! Thanks to our unique guarantees, if your teeth haven’t fully moved as predicted despite following the plan you may be eligible for one refinement round at no extra cost. We say results with no hidden costs, and we mean it!

Should you require refinement aligners on your straight teeth journey, here’s what to do while waiting for them to arrive…

#7 What to do while waiting for your refinement aligners

While you’re waiting on new aligners, make sure to continue wearing the current aligner set you’ve been wearing, so as to not lose any progress and stay on track – DO NOT change your aligner if you’ve been asked to take new impressions. This is critical, as your new tooth movement plan is being designed from this starting point.  It can take 3-5 weeks to produce the new aligners, so the last active aligner should be worn daily to maintain the position. They are all made from a similar material used for retainers, so are fine to use for up to 6 months.

So, overall, there’s really nothing mystical about refinement aligners. They’re just extra aligners to help achieve your ultimate smile goals, all in the safest and most efficient way. Continuous monitoring, such as via the Straight Teeth Direct™ app, gives you the peace of mind that you’ll be the first to know if refinements ever become necessary, saving you time and money on your straight teeth journey.

Have you taken your free e-consultation yet? If you get started now, you’ll receive a dentist’s evaluation on whether or not at-home teeth straightening is right for you within 24 hours, and you’ll also have the chance to ask any more questions you may have about refinement aligners via your app account once you’re done 😉


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