Invisalign and 3M Clarity Clear Aligners FAQ

Why choose BigSmile Orthodontics for your 3M Clarity and Invisalign clear aligner treatment?

Our orthodontists, Dr. Hongsheng Tong and Dr. Robert Lee, are masters at treating patients with clear aligners. Dr. Lee is considered one of the world's top orthodontists on Invisalign and 3M Clarity clear aligner treatment, so he was asked and now serves as the course director for a 6 month long clear aligner course at the world-renowned UCSF Orthodontics program. It is considered one of the best clear aligner courses in the world. He has also taken and completed the Aligner Intensive Fellowship. Dr. Lee advises on the custom smile design for all clear aligner cases at BigSmile Orthodontics.

What are 3M Clarity and Invisalign clear aligners?

Clear aligners use a sequence of custom, removable aligners to move teeth incrementally closer to the end goal which is digitally treatment planned by your orthodontist. There are many different companies that fabricate clear aligners and there are minimal differences between them. 3M Clarity and Invisalign are two of the most popular brands, so at BigSmile Orthodontics, we offer both brands.

Who can be treated with clear aligners?

Just about anyone! 10 years ago, clear aligners struggled with many tooth movements and was only suitable for simple cases. With advancements in clear aligner technology and knowledge, now Clarity and Invisalign can be used for just about all cases. Dr. Tong and Dr. Lee are experienced treating all types of cases with clear aligners ranging from simple relapse cases to complex extractions and orthognathic surgery cases with clear aligners. Come in for a complimentary consultation with our orthodontists to determine if clear aligners are the right fit for you.  

What is the cost of clear aligner treatment?

We offer different ranges of affordable treatment fees depending on the difficulty and length of the treatment.

We will work with you to create a payment plan that fits your budget with reasonable down payments and interest-free financing. We also offer courtesy discounts for paid in full by cash or credit card. We also accept many types of insurances including Medi-Cal.

I had braces when I was younger but stopped wearing my retainers and had some minor relapse. Would clear aligners be a good option to fix my relapse?

Yes! Clear aligners would be the ideal treatment option for this situation. With clear aligners, we have much more control over minor relapse and often treatment plan cases such as these to finish treatment in under less than 6 months. We have affordable treatment fees to reflect the low difficulty and short treatment time in these scenarios.  

What are the advantages associated with clear aligners?

There are many advantages to choosing clear aligners over traditional orthodontic solutions. Clarity and Invisalign clear aligners are nearly invisible and are also removable.  Because they are removable, you can eat and drink anything you would like during treatment, and you can brush and floss like normal. They are also more comfortable, avoiding the potential sore spots and emergency visits that occasionally occur from braces and pokey wires.

Clear aligners are also more suitable for certain cases. For minor relapse cases, because clear aligners are custom designed for you, they often can finish your treatment much more efficiently than braces. 

What are attachments and why are they placed on my teeth?

Attachments are bumps placed on the teeth made from tooth-colored composite that create push surfaces that enable more complex tooth movements. Without attachments, there is minimal control in tooth movement, and it is impossible to get an ideal and stable treatment outcome. Direct-to-consumer clear aligner products do not use attachments, so they often lack the control necessary to position the roots of your teeth to get a healthy and stable treatment outcome.

Will I need to wear rubber bands?

Rubber bands are used on a case by case basis but are generally needed for the majority of cases. The upper and lower clear aligners act independently from each other, so the upper aligner does not know what the lower aligner is doing and vice versa. This is where rubber bands come into play. Rubber bands are used to coordinate the upper and lower teeth together to achieve a proper bite which to ensure long-term health and stability of your teeth.

What is the difference between direct-to-consumer clear aligners that I see in commercials versus clear aligners offered in an orthodontist’s office like BigSmile Orthodontics?

Direct-to-consumer (DTC), sometimes called do-it-yourself (DIY) clear aligners, are very limited in the tooth movements they can accomplish, even though they may claim otherwise. Without attachments and the use of X-rays to make a proper diagnosis, DTC clear aligners, have limited control over the roots and can even cause tooth loss.

Clear aligner treatment also generally will require auxiliaries such as rubber bands to achieve a proper bite to ensure long-term health and stability of your teeth. This is not possible with DTC aligners, so there are many complaints from DTC customers that their bites were made worse after using DTC aligners. There are many other problems that DTC clear aligners may also cause, so many DTC patients often end up needing to see an orthodontist to fix the problems caused by the DTC aligners.

Finally, because of this minimal control DTC clear aligners have on tooth movement, it is often impossible to get even close to an ideal smile. The computer-generated simulations of your smile that the DTC clear aligner companies provide you are truly just simulations, not the reality of what will actually happen. For more information on the dangers of DTC clear aligners, see the AAO consumer alert website.

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