Starting aligner treatment with ST Direct – your checklist

Dental health is about more than just aesthetics (though that’s still important), it’s about the health of your teeth and gums. This overall dental health is crucial when you’re considering getting started with aligner treatment.

If you’re considering invisible aligners or just ordered your SmileBox™ [impression kit] , here’s a quick checklist to rate your oral health first.

#1 Gum health checklist before starting aligner treatment

Our gums form the critical foundation that holds our teeth in our jaw. If your gums are unhealthy, your teeth are automatically weaker. This is why healthy gums are so important when starting aligner treatment.

Signs of unhealthy gums:

Bleeding gums when brushing, interproximal brushing or applying pressure.
Red swollen gums that are loose around the teeth
Lots of yellow calculus/tartar around the teeth
Loose teeth

Signs of healthy gums:

Pink healthy colour
Stippled orange peel appearance
No bleeding when brushing or flossing
Slim tight shape gripping around the teeth firmly

If your gums are currently swollen or unhealthy, it can cause errors when you’re taking your dental impressions. This can cause delays and errors when your aligners are made, we might even need you to redo them when your gums are healthier.

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! Go to a dentist or hygienist to get your teeth professionally cleaned. They will use an ultrasonic scaler (which shoots water) to clean around all the teeth and under the gums. This will make sure all the calculus/tartar is removed.
Get 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 start to become healthy and tighter around the teeth.
Get a mouthwash specifically good for gums. Examples include Peroxyl, Listerine and numerous other brands. This will help keep your breath fresh and also kill bad bacteria that could cause gum problems.
Clean in-between your teeth with interproximal brushes. Get to those hard to reach areas and clean them effectively. Using these brushes twice a day in all the hard to reach areas will help reduce swollen gums.

#2 Overall oral health 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.

1.What to ask when starting aligner treatment with ST Direct:

When you book your dental appointment, 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.

A score of 0 or 1 means perfect or mild gingivitis
2 and 3 means gingivitis / gum disease which needs professional and home cleaning
4 means gum disease which needs professional attention and home maintenance. Make sure to follow the dentist recommendations to get your gums healthy.
When they are cleaning your teeth it’s important they clean under the gumline as well to remove any calculus or tartar below the gums.
The gums may bleed slightly but that’s normal and will return to health. Then at home follow the instructions with mouthwash and using the small brushes between your teeth.

2. Do you need to ask for x-rays?

X-rays are useful for checking tooth decay / wisdom teeth and you should have them to ensure dental health.
Extra ones aren’t essential before orthodontic treatment if you are dentally healthy though and we’ve put more detailed info about orthodontic x-rays and why they are not mandatory below.
READ MORE

#3 FAQ before starting aligner treatment

1. What about my wisdom teeth?

Having wisdom teeth isn’t an issue for getting straight teeth, as long as they are healthy.
Here you’ll find all info about wisdom teeth and teeth straightening.
READ MORE

2. What if I need dental work done?

Having a filling or even many fillings on back teeth is no issue, as the tooth shape isn’t changed in a meaningful way.
Having crowns/bridges/implants/veneers is a different story and you should message us to explain what you are having done and if it will affect the aligners.
If you are thinking of improving your front teeth shapes then having cosmetic bonding on the front teeth should be done after straightening not before, as it can interfere with tooth movement from the aligners, and the result would always be better after straightening.

3. What records shall I share?

Sharing your BPE gum scores (see above) and your last 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 them when preparing your report.
Of course, you can sign a disclaimer if you don’t want to share them.

4. Why is it so important to be dentally healthy before starting aligner treatment?

We all know what a healthy smile looks like, but do we know what causes decay and loose teeth? The simple answer is – sugar.
Tooth decay is commonly caused by sugary foods which produce acid that attacks the surface and structure of our teeth. This weakens the enamel, causes the tooth to become darker and sensitive over time, and can even progress to holes and cavities. These cavities weaken the tooth until it’s at risk of breaking, causing a lot of pain, or even on the verge of falling out.

To be able to move the teeth with aligners, your teeth need to be in a healthy condition.
That means no holes, cavities or weakened enamel. Any existing dental problems need to be treated by your dentist first. They’ll commonly fix cavities by cleaning away decay and placing a filling material inside the tooth to repair it.

Bear in mind, sometimes it’s better to get decays treated before you take your impressions. If you have major fillings done or crowns that will alter the shape of your teeth after your impressions you might need to redo them because the size and shape of the teeth will vary.

#4 Ongoing tips to keep your teeth in perfect condition

Avoid sugary drinks and foods. These just aren’t good for your teeth or your 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.
Brush after meals. Brushing after meals helps remove anything that could cause tooth decay and helps strengthen your teeth with another dose of fluoride.
Get your teeth checked and x-rayed. Some decay is visible only 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, and some decay needs to be treated with fillings. Ask your dentist how to make sure your teeth are strong and ready for orthodontic treatment.

#5 No time to see a dentist? No problem with Instant Dentist™ 

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. 

There is now an easier way to receive a dental screening through a digital dentist. 

Thanks to our sister dental health platform, Instant Dentist™, you can consult with a trusted dentist online 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 solution provides cost effective private dental advice and tailored at home treatments at the touch of a button. Need a dental checkup, have a specific concern or want a second professional opinion? Your healthiest smile is just a thumb swipe away, with expert online consultations, dental advice and personal targeted dental products delivered straight to your door. In the 2020s, there’s no easier way to truly understand the health inside your mouth and to find out whether or not there are any areas that you should be concerned about. 

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

Not sure if this is for you? Read this first to learn more