1224 McFarland Blvd. NE
Tuscaloosa, AL. 35406
COVID-19 has affected our lives in many ways since last year, but those challenges don’t have to stand in the way of your orthodontic treatment. Cowan Orthodontics continues to offer a range of treatment options for anyone looking to improve their oral health, including Invisalign clear aligners. This innovative system is already popular with our teen and adult patients, thanks to the removable design and clear material. Staying safe and healthy with Invisalign during COVID-19 is easier than you might think!
While adjusting to a new sense of “normal” over the past several months, we have come to realize that Invisalign is an excellent option for achieving a healthier smile during a pandemic. The treatment process is safe and effective, with the added benefit of being easier to navigate while practicing social distancing. Keep reading below to learn why more patients than ever are choosing Invisalign for all their orthodontic needs!
One of the most consistent recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the advice to keep our hands away from our face and mouth. This limits the spread of germs and slows the rate of infection. Unfortunately, Invisalign patients can’t quite avoid touching their mouths during the treatment process. That means it is more important than ever to practice good hygiene, which is an easy task with Invisalign’s clear aligners!
Patients will find it a simple task to care for both their oral health and their aligners. The trays are designed to be removed before eating, drinking anything other than water, and brushing and flossing your teeth. We recommend washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before removing aligners from the mouth, paying special attention to the fingernails and fingertips, since these will come into the closest contact with the mouth and aligners.
Washing your hands is the first line of defense against germs and infection. This CDC video shows viewers how to do so quickly and effectively! If soap and water are unavailable, hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol can be used as a substitute. These products are fast-acting and significantly reduce the number of germs on the skin.
Once your aligners have been removed, they should always be placed in a clean, sealed container or left to soak in an approved solution. This keeps them safe from germs and bacteria, and also prevents them from being accidentally misplaced (or thrown away!) Before putting aligners back in your mouth, you should wash your hands again and rinse the aligner with water. Caring for aligners this way becomes part of your daily routine in no time at all, and helps protect your oral and overall health.
Clear aligner treatments have been popping up everywhere in recent years, which means even those who are unfamiliar with orthodontics most likely know about them. Although the design appears quite simple, aligners are made to move the teeth in the same way traditional braces do—by applying gentle, continuous pressure. To produce the force necessary to move the teeth, the aligners must be worn for 20-22 hours each day. Additionally, each aligner is switched out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks to keep up with the movements the teeth are making. When a patient is compliant with these guidelines, Invisalign can work just as well as braces at correcting many of the most common orthodontic issues.
Invisalign patients will normally be provided with several weeks’ worth of aligners at a time, which can be extremely convenient during times like these! If the current set of aligners runs out before the next scheduled appointment, we can easily arrange curbside pick-up for the next set so there is no need to physically enter our Tuscaloosa office. Patients who have questions can set up a virtual appointment to speak with Dr. Cowan and discuss their concerns. Socially-distanced options such as these mean every patient can continue their treatment safely, conveniently, and without any delays.
Once you have completed your last course of aligners, treatment may be complete. Sometimes, however, we will need to schedule a revision scan to see if additional aligners are required to achieve the best results. Temporary closings and occasional stay-at-home orders have sometimes affected our ability to get patients in quickly for this type of appointment, but Invisalign aligners make it easy to troubleshoot solutions!
For example, if you’re currently in aligners, you can continue wearing the last set you were given if we are not able to provide you with a new set right away. There is one difference—the aligners should be worn for only 10-12 hours a day instead of the normal 20-22 hours. Doing so helps extend the life of the aligners until an appointment is available. This keeps your treatment plan on track and ensures no progress is lost.
It is very important to keep pressure on the teeth both during (aligners) and after (retainer) treatment is complete. Without continuous force, the teeth will eventually begin to shift back into their previous places. This can happen more quickly than one might think and may lead to longer treatment times. For this reason, we recommend that patients always keep their aligners from the previous stage on hand in case they are needed while waiting for a new set to be delivered.
Traditional braces are made of brackets and wires that can be bent or broken. This can occasionally lead to orthodontic emergencies that need immediate attention. Since Invisalign aligners are just one piece and made from a durable material called SmartTrack, emergencies with them tend to be few and far between. They are not indestructible, though! Aligners can still tear, crack, or break, especially if they are not handled with care.
We ask patients to let us know any time an aligner is damaged (or lost.) If the damage is relatively minor, you may still wear the aligner until it is time for the next in the series. You should refrain from using any aligner that has cracked or split in a way that prevents it from holding its shape. Besides causing potential pain, it will not be able to provide the consistent pressure needed to move the teeth. In a case like this, we may need to make a replacement or Dr. Cowan may recommend using the next aligner in the series.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, Invisalign makes it easy to achieve a healthier smile safely and effectively. To learn more about this innovative treatment option, get in touch to schedule a FREE consultation with Dr. Cowan!
December 28, 2020
February 22, 2021