About Nighttime Aligners
Recently, I have been approached by patients asking about the difference in daytime versus nighttime aligners and if I had a professional opinion about them. Because nighttime clear aligners are relatively new and widespread information has been limited, I thought it would be a good topic for an educational post.
History of Aligners
Traditional clear aligners have been around for almost 20 years, and with millions of patients treated, there’s a plethora of clinical data to support the treatment. Just recently, there’s been some discussion regarding the use of exclusively “nighttime” aligners, and due to their recent development, there is very little clinical data or patient testimonials to review.
For background, traditional aligners are worn approximately 22 hours a day. They are made out of nearly clear plastic and are worn in the mouth like a tray. They should only be removed to eat, drink, or complete your hygiene routine. In contrast, nighttime aligners are meant to be worn 8 to 11 hours per day in the evening and sleeping hours, depending on the manufacturer.
Doctor Oversight is Essential
As an orthodontist with many years dedicated to the craft of carefully moving teeth and supporting structures, I have always cautioned my patients about do-it-yourself aligner products without regular visits to a trusted and trained orthodontist. Orthodontists can ensure aligners are the right treatment method based on the particular issues a patient needs to address. They closely monitor the patient’s progress and troubleshoot or change the treatment method as needed along the way.
There are several aligner systems that require an orthodontist’s supervision with visits every couple of months, including Spark. These systems deliver great results for my patients at Gire Orthodontics and Ladera Orthodontics. Other mail-order products, like most nighttime aligners, do not involve a doctor to monitor the movement of teeth, their roots, and the supporting structures attached to them. You might see some nighttime aligners that require a remote or telehealth visit, but I don’t believe this is enough. Would you set your own broken leg or arm bone if you fell, or would you see a trained medical specialist?
Background on Nighttime Aligners
There are currently several nearly invisible nighttime aligner products on the market, manufactured by various companies that cut out the role of a trained in-person specialist, the orthodontist. You should note that these are slightly different from each other and claim different treatment times. While all of them require that you wear the nighttime aligners 8 to 11 hours a day, there are other differences between them.
Different Treatment Options
One company utilizes the same nighttime aligner material as its full-time, regular product. So, by wearing the aligners half the time, the treatment time is about twice as long. Instead of wearing each aligner set for one week, they’re worn for two weeks.
Another nearly invisible nighttime aligner brand claims its product is made with a harder material and requires the patient to use a vibrating device that provides micro-pulses for 10 minutes a day. The company claims it can move teeth quicker (4 to 6 months) than competing products. Yet another product appears to be similar to its daytime aligner counterpart and states that the average treatment time is 8 to 12 months, based on the patient wearing it eight hours a day.