Here at Zeifman Orthodontics, we offer a wide range of treatment options for anyone looking to correct misalignment issues and achieve a straighter smile. This includes popular methods like traditional braces and clear aligners both of which move the teeth into more desirable positions by applying gentle pressure to them over time. As we navigate this pandemic-inspired “new normal,” we’re finding that the benefits of clear aligners go beyond improving oral health. Staying safe and healthy with clear aligners during COVID-19 is easy and manageable, even while social distancing!
Keep reading to learn why clear aligners could be the best socially-distanced solution for a healthier smile!
Minimal impact on treatment progress
Thanks to our state-of-the-art technology, we’ve been able to continue serving our patients with virtual appointments and curbside pickup of aligners over the last year. This means each patient can safely continue their treatment without delays!
Whether you’re a current clear aligners patient or have just started considering this treatment method, you probably know the system is built around a series of removable aligners. These are normally switched out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks, depending on the patient’s treatment plan. We provide patients with several weeks’ worth of aligners to wear, which is very helpful when social distancing or stay-at-home orders are in place. When it’s time for another set of aligners, we can arrange curbside pick-up so you’re not required to physically enter our Florham Park office.
Once the current course of aligners is finished, treatment may be complete or it may be time for a revision scan, which tells us if additional aligners will be required to get the results we’re looking for. If you’re currently in aligners and haven’t been able to make it into the office for this scan due to temporary closings or other reasons, you should keep wearing the last set of aligners you were given for 8-12 hours per day instead of the normal 20-22 hours. This will help extend the life of your aligners until you can be seen in the office.
It’s very important to continue wearing the last set of aligners until Dr. Zeifman sees you. As we mentioned above, aligners work by exerting gentle but continuous pressure on the teeth to move them into more optimal positions over time. If you aren’t wearing your aligners regularly, your teeth will slowly begin to shift back to their previous positions which can cause delays in your treatment progress. We recommend always keeping aligners from the previous stage or two in case you need to go back to these while you wait for new ones to be processed and delivered.
Caring for clear aligners during COVID-19
In the earliest days of the pandemic, one of the most repeated recommendations was to avoid touching your face and mouth. This quickly revealed just how often most of us tend to do both! While the habit was easy to break for some, clear aligners patients don’t have much of a choice when it comes to touching their mouths, since the aligners are designed to be removed at various times throughout the day. If you’re taking an aligner out before eating or brushing your teeth, of course, your fingers are going to come into contact with your mouth!
While proper cleaning has always been a critical part of the clear aligners treatment process, it’s more important now than ever. Before removing your aligners, you should wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Take special care of your fingertips since they’ll be coming into close contact with your mouth and aligners—this video demonstrates how to effectively wash your hands in about 30 seconds! If you’re not able to wash your hands first, use sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol before touching your aligners.
It can be tempting to toss your aligner on the nearest surface after taking it out, but you should always place it in a sealed container or soak it in a cleaning solution while it’s out of your mouth. Once you’re done eating or brushing and flossing your teeth, rinse your mouth thoroughly to remove any foreign particles. Then wash your hands again and rinse your aligner before putting it back in your mouth. It may sound like a lot of steps, but this routine will become a habit before you know it! Taking extra care of your aligners and oral health during this time will help protect your total body health, too.
What if there’s an emergency with your clear aligners?
Clear aligners patients rarely experience emergencies like braces patients might since there are no metal brackets, wires, or bands. Aligners can easily be replaced and can even serve as temporary retainers if needed. But just like braces can have a loose wire or broken bracket, clear aligners can be damaged. The patented SmartTrack material they’re made from is durable, but not indestructible! If aligners are mishandled, they may crack or break.
If you notice any kind of damage to your current clear aligners, you should let our team know as soon as possible. Depending on the severity, you may be able to continue wearing it until it’s time for the next in the series. If the aligner is cracked or split in a way that keeps it from holding its shape, discontinue using it as it may be painful and won’t be able to provide the pressure needed to move the teeth. We may need to make a replacement for you or Dr. Zeifman may have you start the next aligner in the series a little early.
We love at-home fixes in most cases, but you should never attempt to glue a cracked aligner back together! These products aren’t meant for use in your mouth and could make you sick. Contact our team as soon as you notice damage to your aligner and we’ll be happy to instruct you on how to proceed. Do your best to prevent cracks and tears by caring for your aligners any time they’re out of your mouth—use your storage case, be cautious when you insert and remove the aligners, and keep them away from curious pets!
Keep your smile healthy through COVID-19 with Zeifman Orthodontics and clear aligners
There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has brought some major changes to our daily lives! However, that doesn’t mean that your smile has to take a back seat. Thanks to treatment with clear aligners, our convenient virtual appointments, and curbside pickup for aligners, you can continue caring for your smile safely and effectively! If you’re ready to take the first step towards a healthier smile, contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation with Dr. Zeifman. Your smile deserves to thrive!