Refinement may be considered as an option in the final detailing stage of clear aligner treatment, to help teeth achieve their ideal final positions. The need for refinement is often undetermined at the start of clear aligner treatment, however, it does become evident in the final stages.
Dr De Angelis and our team will closely monitor your teeth throughout your clear aligner treatment, to identify any issues and advise you whether a refinement period will be required as you approach the end of your aligner treatment. This may also occur when aligners are no longer fitting as well as they should be, due to changes to tooth or gum anatomy (ie a new filling to a tooth).
What is refinement?
Refinement can be described as the finishing and detailing stage of the aligner treatment. During this time, individual tooth positions are fine-tuned using a new set of aligners, elastics, attachments, buttons or a combination of these, to achieve the best possible treatment outcome.
The refinement stage includes new analysis and a refreshed plan to move the teeth differently from the initial plan.
Is refinement necessary?
In some instances, yes. For example, if you had a tooth filling during your orthodontic treatment and your aligners no longer fit, then refinement is recommended.
Everyone has their own bone and tissue structure, which can directly impact the outcome of the initial treatment. Some realignments of teeth need harder movements than others, and some stubborn teeth may require an extra nudge, and thus require refinement.
You can choose not to go ahead with this stage and instead finish treatment.
When does the refinement period begin?
If a refinement stage is recommended it usually starts when:
- your aligners are no longer fitting as well as they should be, or
- you are about 80% of the way through your original treatment plan, or
- you are at the end of your initial treatment plan.
What does refinement involve and how long will it take?
Refinement involves getting a new scan and a new set of additional aligners custom-made for you to help correct some final movements of the teeth. Sometimes we will leave your current attachments on or remove them before this stage. There also might be an additional attachment(s) or button(s) when receiving your new aligners.
The new aligners can take up to 8-10 weeks to produce. Therefore, it is crucial to continue wearing your last active aligner set, or a specific newly-made retainer to maintain the current position of your teeth, as it is from this point that your new treatment plan begins. You may also be required to continue your elastics as prescribed.
As each individual will have a unique refinement treatment plan, there is no one set duration for the refinement stage. If you require refinement, Dr De Angelis will determine how long it will take, and you will be advised of this, or you can choose to finish whenever you are happy to.
How much will it cost?
At Transform Orthodontic Care, there are no additional fees for refinement. You can choose to go ahead with the refinement if needed for no charge or choose to finish your treatment.
How can refinements be avoided?
While refinements cannot be avoided in all cases due to individual tooth responsiveness, measures can certainly be taken to reduce the likelihood of requiring them. The most important thing is to wear your regular aligners and elastics exactly as prescribed in your treatment plan.
The following can have an impact on your aligner treatment result, which will determine if a refinement stage is required:
- Aligners need to be worn 22 hours a day, 7 days a week. Not wearing your aligners for the recommended time, or forgetting to put your aligners back in after eating or drinking can cause delays in your treatment.
- Moving too soon from one aligner to the other, or not changing them in the right order.
- Not replacing your aligners immediately, in case they are lost or broken.
- The complex or genetically slow movement of teeth.
- Getting any dental treatment during aligner treatment that:
- changes or alters the shape of your teeth, affecting how your teeth fit into the aligner
- requires a different approach to moving the teeth.
- Missing appointments or not using dental monitoring as recommended.