Staying Safe and Healthy with Clear Aligners During COVID-19

When it comes to challenging years, 2020 was certainly one for the record books. But as difficult as the last several months have been, we’re proud of how strong and resilient the Nirenblatt Orthodontics family truly is! This pandemic has required a lot of patience and flexibility, but we’ve been able to work together to continue providing our community with a variety of affordable treatments, including clear aligners. In fact, clear aligners have been the breakout star of staying safe and healthy during the COVID-19 era! 

This popularity isn’t new, of course. Teens and adults looking for an alternative to traditional braces have loved clear aligners for years. We have, however, recently realized just how many benefits they offer! The flexibility and freedom that come with a clear aligner system make them a bit easier to navigate in uncertain times such as these. To learn how aligners can be an excellent solution for socially-distanced smiles, keep reading below.  

Clear aligners make it easier to keep your distance when you need to

Although aligners look nothing like traditional braces, these methods both straighten teeth with a continuous application of gentle force. Braces are a fixed appliance, so this part happens without much effort on the part of the patient. Clear aligners are removable, though. To produce the level of force needed to move the teeth, patients are responsible for wearing their aligners for 20-22 hours each day throughout the treatment process. The custom aligners are also switched out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks. This is what allows them to keep up with the movements the teeth are making. 

We normally provide patients with several weeks’ worth of aligners at a time. This can be helpful if a patient needs to isolate or a practice needs to close temporarily. If the current set of aligners runs out before the next scheduled appointment, we can arrange a curbside pick-up for the next set so there’s no need to physically enter the office. We also continue to offer virtual appointments along with in-person visits to our Summerville, North Charleston, and West Ashley offices. By providing simple options like these, patients can continue their treatment safely and with no delays. 

Clear aligners offer flexible solutions

Once a patient has run out of their last set of aligners, the treatment process may be complete or Dr. Nirenblatt may need to perform a revision scan. This will let him know if any additional aligners are required to achieve the best results. The safer-at-home orders and temporary closings we experienced last spring occasionally affected our ability to see patients as often as we normally would. Fortunately, this isn’t a problem for patients in clear aligners! 

Why not? Well, imagine if something happened and we weren’t able to provide a patient with a new set of aligners right away. No worries! They can simply continue to wear their last set for 10-12 hours each day instead of 20-22 hours. This will extend the life of the aligners until an appointment is available. It also keeps the patient’s treatment plan on track so no progress is lost. 

It’s essential to keep some type of pressure on the teeth both during and after treatment is complete, whether a patient is in braces or aligners. Without the force that an appliance like aligners or retainers provides, the teeth will eventually begin to shift back into their previous positions. When you lose progress in this way, it can lead to a longer total treatment time and even affect the final results. This is why we recommend patients keep the last aligners from their previous set—they’re an easy stopgap measure if the new set is delayed.

Staying Safe and Healthy with Clear Aligners During COVID-19 Clear aligners make it easier to maintain your oral health

We’ve all been reminded countless times throughout this pandemic to keep our hands away from the face and mouth. While this is excellent advice for cutting down on the transmission of germs, it’s difficult for patients in clear aligners to follow it! Wearing aligners means you’re touching your mouth multiple times a day, so practicing good hygiene is more important than ever. 

Clear aligners are designed to be removed before eating and drinking anything other than water, and should also be taken out before brushing and flossing. To keep things clean, we recommend that all patients wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before removing aligners from the mouth, taking special care with the fingernails and fingertips.

It’s no secret that washing your hands is the first line of defense against germs and bacteria, but you need to be doing it properly for the best results. If you’re not sure what the most effective technique is, this video will give you a quick demonstration! Hand sanitizer can be used in a pinch if soap and water are unavailable, just be sure it’s at least 60% alcohol. When used correctly, these products are fast-acting and can significantly reduce the number of germs on the skin.

Once clear aligners have been removed, they should always be placed in a clean sealed container or left to soak in an approved solution. This will keep them safe from bacteria. It also prevents them from being accidentally misplaced (or thrown away…this happens more than you might think!) Before putting aligners back in the mouth, patients should wash their hands again and rinse the aligner with water. This kind of care routine will help protect a patient’s oral and overall health, something that’s always been important but is even more so now.  

Staying Safe and Healthy with Clear Aligners During COVID-19 Keep your smile safe in 2021 with Nirenblatt Orthodontics

COVID-19 may have us thinking on our feet for a little while yet, but clear aligners are making it easier than ever to achieve a beautifully confident smile! If you’ve been thinking about improving your oral health with clear aligners, this could be the year it all comes together! To take the first steps toward a smile you can be proud of, get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Nirenblatt.