Clear aligners look simple and plastic to the untrained eye. In reality, these aligners could be made of a range of materials. Advances in technology have also created new avenues for aligner manufacturers. According to one study, the ideal aligner material should “exhibit high resilience, low hardness, sufficient elasticity, adequate resistance to varied stress and distortion, excellent transparency, low cytotoxicity and high biocompatibility.”
There are four primary material categories into which aligners fall:
Your orthodontist will know the proper material to address your oral care needs. They will consider the following factors when deciding what material works best:
Aligners are worn for an extended period, typically around 1-2 weeks per aligner set and up to 22 hours per day. Choosing aligners made from a durable material that can withstand the pressures of everyday wear and tear is crucial. High-quality aligners made from a durable material can resist cracking, breaking or warping, ensuring they remain effective and intact throughout your treatment.
Your comfort is key. If you’re uncomfortable for 22 hours a day, you will not keep up with treatment. The material of clear aligners plays a significant role in their comfort. Aligners should fit snugly and smoothly against your teeth. You should not feel any irritation or discomfort. A high-quality, flexible material can guarantee a comfortable fit throughout your treatment. If your gums feel irritated or you notice abrasions, talk to your orthodontist about getting a new material.
Many people choose aligners because they want discretion that braces don’t provide. Clear aligners are transparent and can be worn daily without being noticed by most people. The material used should be transparent and able to blend in with your natural tooth color.
Perhaps most importantly, an aligner’s material impacts how you’ll clean it. Aligners that are non-porous and smooth may be best. This material prevents plaque buildup better and may be easier to clean.
You may be tempted to ignore the specifics of your aligner’s material, but you can’t be blasé about the material when it comes to cleaning. You can damage your aligner if you clean it with a product that doesn’t play well with the material. Talk to your orthodontist about which cleaning products work best for your aligner’s specific material.
An aligner’s material can significantly influence durability, comfort, transparency and cleaning habits. It could even impact how much invisible aligners cost. Be sure to have a comprehensive discussion with your orthodontist so you know how your aligner’s material impacts your treatment path.