Aligner checks – how many are necessary?

If there’s anything that society has been collectively obsessed with since the dawn of time, it is the transitional standard of beauty. Since ancient times, humans have overvalued the aesthetic appeal of other humans. And in today’s media-saturated market when we are consistently bombarded with idyllic pictures of what we should look like, the pressure is on now more than ever before.

Standards for cosmetic allure, surprisingly, do not stop at facial features. In fact, teeth are looked at as essential ornaments for a beautiful face. Historians can trace the use of the first cosmetic dental appliances back to 700 B.C. when an Italian civilization created dentures from bone and ivory. This clearly indicates that people of that society also valued a full smile without gaps and straight teeth and sought after these devices to attain their then standard of beauty.

Not much has changed regarding the yearning for perfect teeth. Today, orthodontics has gravitated towards a more cosmetic alternative and thus, clear aligners have been doing much of the heavy lifting in place of traditional metal braces. While aligners are much nicer to look at, they are not entirely hassle-free. Patients are still required to visit their orthodontists frequently to get their aligner checks. But how many checks are enough?

We will help you understand the process of aligner fitting and the appointment timeline you’re expected to go through during the course of your aligner treatment.

1. Initial consultation

Your first appointment at the orthodontist will be your longest. Amidst all the history-taking, impression-taking of your upper and lower teeth, and collection of essential records like clinical photographs and digital x-rays, you might be in the clinic for anywhere from one to two hours.

The impressions will be used to create an identical replica of your teeth to ensure aligners are made for a custom fit.

2. The first set of aligners

Once the aligners have been fabricated to custom-fit your teeth, you’ll be instructed to wear the aligners full-time for at least 20 to 22 hours a day. These aligner trays will be placed and replaced periodically every one to two weeks with a new set, following the progress of tooth movement.

When you receive your first aligners, the orthodontist might at times add auxiliaries like elastics to the appliance for easier and faster movement. It is during this appointment that your aligners will be tested to snugly fit against your teeth and you’ll be sent home with a strict set of guidelines for eating, drinking, and practising oral hygiene with aligners on.

3. Follow-up appointments

Depending on the severity of your malocclusion, the orthodontist would have fabricated a treatment plan that will accommodate your issue. This will also ultimately determine the number of follow-up visits you will have to make with the orthodontist.

Typically, adult patients will be asked to visit the dental office every four to eight weeks for a short 15-minute appointment. During these mini-appointments, the orthodontist will check your progress and dispense your next set of aligner trays.

You will be given enough sets of aligners to switch them out every two weeks as prescribed by your orthodontist. For optimal results, you will need to switch out your aligners as they coincide with the velocity of ongoing tooth movement.

The goal of regular visits at the orthodontist is to ensure that the treatment is continuing at the right pace and that the aligners are perfectly allowing tooth movement and in turn, correcting malalignment. These appointments can also include regular cleaning as tartar build-up is a gnawing concern with most aligner wearers.

4. Final appointment

Of course, the complexity of a patient’s case will determine the length of orthodontic treatment required to correct the malocclusion. However, on average, the overall treatment time with aligners is 12 to 18 months. However, results can be seen within just a couple of weeks. During your final appointment, your treatment progress will be checked and if all is as planned, you’ll be given a retainer to wear nightly indefinitely to retain your teeth’s new positions.


While treatment with aligners can be completed within a few months, you will have to visit your dentist on a regular basis for the treatment process to continue without hindrance and for you to get a beautiful smile at the earliest.

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