Here at Van Vliet Orthodontics, we’re settling into a new year and reflecting on the last one. 2020 was full of unexpected challenges, but we’re thankful for the perspective it’s given us and proud of how resilient our community has been! COVID-19 has required a lot of flexibility, and adjusting to each new “normal” has kept us on our toes, but through it all, we were still able to provide world-class orthodontic care to families in Highland and Ramsey. Continue reading to learn more about staying safe and healthy with Invisalign during COVID-19.
It took some creativity, but our team has continued to offer patients a range of affordable treatment options throughout the pandemic. In that time, we’ve noticed something exciting about the Invisalign clear aligner system. While Invisalign has long been a favorite of patients looking for an alternative to traditional braces, we’ve recently realized that clear aligners can be the perfect socially-distanced solution for a straighter smile in 2021. What does that mean? Let’s take a look!
Invisalign makes it easier to keep your distance when necessary
Like traditional braces, Invisalign moves the teeth into better positions by applying gentle force to them continuously over time. In order to produce the level of force needed to shift the teeth, the custom aligners must be worn for 20-22 hours each day and switched out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks. This allows them to keep up with the movements the teeth are making as treatment progresses.
We’ll usually provide Invisalign patients with several weeks’ worth of aligners at a time, which can be helpful given stay-at-home orders and temporary closings. If the current set of aligners runs out before the next scheduled appointment, we can arrange curbside pick-up for the next set so there’s no need to physically enter the office. If a patient or parent has questions, we’re happy to set up a virtual appointment so they can discuss their concerns with Dr. Van Vliet.
By offering simple options like these, our patients can continue their orthodontic journey safely, conveniently, and without any delay!
Invisalign offers flexible solutions
Once a patient has run out of their last set of aligners, the treatment process is likely to be complete. Occasionally, though, we may need to schedule a revision scan. These scans will let us know if any additional aligners are required to achieve the desired results. Unfortunately, the ups and downs of the pandemic have sometimes affected our ability to see patients as quickly as we normally would. The good news is, this doesn’t have to negatively affect our Invisalign patients!
For example, if we aren’t able to provide a patient with a new set of aligners right away, they can continue wearing their last set with one difference—instead of the normal 20-22 hours, these aligners should only be worn for 10-12 hours each day. This will help extend the life of the aligners until an in-office appointment is available. It also keeps the patient’s treatment plan on track and ensures that no important progress is lost.
With any type of orthodontic treatment, it’s necessary to keep some form of pressure on the teeth both during and after treatment is complete. Without the force that aligners or a retainer provide, the teeth will eventually begin to shift back into their previous positions in the mouth. Losing progress in this way can lead to longer treatment times or even affect the final results. We recommend that our patients keep the aligners from their previous set or two, giving them an easy stopgap measure if they have to wait for a new set to be made or delivered.
Invisalign makes it easy to practice good hygiene
From the earliest days of COVID-19, experts have been reminding us to keep our hands away from the face and mouth. This limits the spread of germs and slows the rate of infection, but the truth is, it’s good advice that Invisalign patients really can’t follow. Wearing aligners means touching your mouth multiple times a day, which is why it’s more important than ever to practice good hygiene!
Fortunately, this is easy to accomplish with the Invisalign system. The trays are designed to be removed before eating and drinking anything other than water. They should also be taken out before brushing and flossing the teeth. 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.
Because washing your hands is the first line of defense against germs and bacteria, it’s important to use the proper technique. This video is a great example of how to wash your hands quickly and effectively! If soap and water are unavailable, hand sanitizer can be used, but 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 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 bacteria and also prevents them from being accidentally misplaced or thrown out. Before putting aligners back in the mouth, patients should wash their hands again and rinse the aligner with water. Don’t worry—practicing this kind of care becomes routine in no time!
Get safe and effective treatment in 2021 with Van Vliet Orthodontics
We may be navigating COVID-19 in different ways for a while yet, but Invisalign clear aligners make it easy to achieve a confident smile even in a pandemic. If you’ve been thinking about taking the first steps to improve your oral health, 2021 could be your year! To get started, get in touch with our office to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Van Vliet.