Transparent communication with patients

01 April 2024

A look at how to manage successful aligner treatment.

Aligners offer a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing solution for straightening teeth, especially in adult patients. Many choose the technique due to its invisibility, and the majority expect an improvement in self-confidence following treatment. However, it is essential for dental professionals to effectively manage patient expectations when discussing aligner treatment to ensure a successful and satisfying outcome.

To begin with, it is important to educate patients about the realistic expectations they should have regarding dental aligners. While aligners can effectively correct a wide range of orthodontic issues, there are limitations to what they can achieve. Patients need to understand that aligners are most suitable for mild to moderate cases of malocclusion and tooth misalignment. Severe cases may require other treatment options, such as braces or even surgery. By setting realistic expectations from the start, patients are less likely to be disappointed in the outcome.

All in good time

Another aspect of managing patient expectations is explaining the treatment timeline. Unlike traditional braces, aligner treatment is typically shorter. However, it is important for patients to understand that the duration of treatment varies depending on the specific case. Some patients may require aligners for a few months, while others may need them for over a year. Revisions are sometimes required when teeth don’t move as planned, so patients need to be informed that they might require additional sets of aligners to target specific areas. By providing a general estimate of the treatment duration, patients can plan accordingly and understand that patience is crucial throughout the process.

It is also vital to discuss the commitment and responsibility required for successful aligner treatment. Because aligners are removable, patients must be diligent in wearing the aligners as prescribed by their dentist. Aligners should be worn for at least 22 hours a day to ensure optimal results. Patients should understand that failure to comply with the recommended wearing time may prolong the treatment or result in unsatisfactory outcomes.

In addition to consistently wearing aligners, patients must also comply with the maintenance and cleaning instructions provided by their dental professional. Aligners should be removed before eating or drinking anything other than water, as certain substances can stain or damage them.

No pain, no gain

Alongside explaining the commitment required, dental professionals must address any potential discomfort that patients may experience during aligner treatment. While aligners are generally more comfortable than traditional metal braces, patients may still encounter some initial discomfort during the adjustment period. It is important to inform patients that this discomfort is temporary and often subsides within a few days as they become accustomed to wearing the aligners. By preparing patients for potential discomfort, they can better manage their expectations during the early stages of treatment.

Dental professionals should openly communicate the potential risks and limitations associated with aligner treatment, too. For instance, patients may experience slight changes in speech or a feeling of pressure on the teeth during the initial stages of treatment. It is essential to address these concerns and provide reassurance that these effects are temporary. Additionally, patients should be made aware that aligners may not be suitable for everyone and that alternative treatment options may be necessary in some cases.

ClearCorrect aligners from the Straumann Group are made from a proprietary ClearQuartz tri-layer material that provides greater orthodontic control by combining two layers of resilient polymers with an elastomeric inner layer, producing a gentle but consistent application of force. The material has also been found to be more stain-resistant than other leading brands when tested with cola, red wine, coffee and mustard. ClearCorrect aligners also feature a flat trimline above the gingival margin, resulting in a comfortable and retentive oral device.

Managing patient expectations plays a pivotal role in ensuring a successful and satisfying outcome with dental aligners. By setting realistic expectations, educating patients about the treatment timeline and commitment required, discussing potential discomfort, and addressing any limitations or risks, dental professionals can enhance patient satisfaction and promote a positive experience throughout the aligner treatment journey. Effective communication and transparency are key to managing patient expectations and achieving your and their desired results.