At-Home Aligners: Something To Smile About

Clear aligners have been available for over 20 years and the technique has gotten progressively more sophisticated over time. Athome clear aligners like Smile Direct Club allow orthodontic patients more convenience than ever to perfect their smile. Dr. Gierie and his team use both Invisalign and GOCLEAR in-house aligners to customize these products for the specific need of each patient. This offers the best of both worlds: Orthodontist supervised with minimal visits to the office like at-home aligners provide.

So, what are at-home clear aligners? Clear aligners have replaced traditional braces in many instances but haven’t taken over completely. Traditional metal braces can be the better option for some cases, but when a patient is a good match for a clear aligner, they are often preferred by patients. The aligners make small adjustments to a patient’s teeth over time to create the desired results. People find them to be easier and less invasive than metal braces and while they need to be worn over the teeth for most of the day, they are virtually invisible.

The process begins with a scan taken at the orthodontist’s office. There are companies that will mail an impression kit to the patient and then mail back aligners but making an appointment with an orthodontist ensures proper evaluation of dental health and the best results. Digital scanners help ensure that the aligners will have the most accuracy and offer the best fit and results.

One of the limitations of at-home aligners is that they are used only for minor tooth movement. Patients with complex orthodontic problems will need a customized plan which could include a mix of traditional or clear braces and then a transition to aligners. At-home aligner systems typically don’t offer an inperson doctor examination with x-rays to determine if the patient’s gums are healthy. It is critical to know if a patient has enough bone around their teeth before beginning aligner wear for the aligners to work properly without causing harm. Orthodontists screen for issues like periodontal disease or gum problems which would need to be treated before the patient starts with aligner treatment. If these things aren’t evaluated, patients can suffer bone and tooth loss in some instances.

How are the patients then monitored while their aligners? That’s where virtual consultation and virtual monitoring come in. Dr. Gierie uses a special application that allows him to have a remote appointment with his patients. This allows the orthodontist to visually assess the progress a patient is making through the course of their treatment plan. Teledentistry allows orthodontists and patients to work remotely, but still communicate about issues and next steps. The applications used are HIPPA compliant, making sure that privacy is still maintained even though the visit is a remote one. Patients who travel often or move but still want to maintain a relationship with their current orthodontist, go to school across the country, or just don’t have the time to travel to the orthodontist office are all great candidates for teledentistry. This trend minimizes the number of inperson visits while still allowing for monitoring of a patient’s progress.

No matter the type of treatment plan, the team at Gierie Orthdontics is here to give you the smile of your dreams in the most convenient way possible. Give them a call today to set up a remote appointment and discuss how to get started!

Dr. William V. Gierie received his dental and orthodontic specialty training from UNC, Chapel Hill, where he is an associate adjunct faculty member and Invisalign instructor in the orthodontic department. Dr. Gierie is Southeastern NC’s first Invisalign Diamond provider and lectures extensively on Invisalign. He maintains a private orthodontic practice in Wilmington, N.C., at 700 Military Cutoff Road, Suite 100. For more information, visit or call 910.256.8590.

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