Aligner Refinements

Guide to Refinement Aligners

Fine-tuning your aligner treatment - here's what to expect.

If something hasn’t gone right with your aligner treatment, and you aren’t quite seeing the results you were expecting, don’t panic. You’ll simply need some refinement aligners to correct the treatment and keep you on track to the smile you’re looking for. Refinement aligners are common, and in most cases they’re included in the cost of your original plan. Read on to find out more about refinement aligners.

What are refinement aligners?

Refinement teeth aligners are extra sets of aligners that make corrections to your treatment. If your original set of aligners hasn’t worked as expected, you might need refinement aligners to make further changes or alterations, to ensure that you get the results you were originally hoping for.

Refinement aligners are essentially the same as your regular aligners you’re already wearing, but they will be a slightly different shape to make further changes to the position of your teeth. Your refinement aligners will be created from a new set of impressions, based on the latest position of your teeth, to ensure that they are effective and reposition your teeth in the correct way.

Why might you need refinement aligners?

Everyone is different, and that includes the makeup of your mouth. Your bone density, tissue structure and gum firmness will be unique to you, and if you just happen to have a tougher mouth, it may be that your teeth haven’t quite moved in the way that was predicted by the dentist or orthodontist in charge of mapping out your treatment.

Of course, because your aligners are intended to follow a set treatment plan, if they go wrong earlier then it means each subsequent set of aligners won’t be working in the right way. So if your teeth simply haven’t adjusted as they were predicted to, you may need refinement aligners in order to put you back on the path to that winning smile.

Another reason that you require refinement aligners could be if you made a mistake with your original impression kit. This isn’t too common – usually aligner providers can tell where you haven’t quite given an accurate impression kit and will reject it, asking you for another. But if you’ve made a slight error, or if you made your impressions but then held onto them before returning them to your aligner provider, your teeth may not have been in the correct place for the aligners that were created for you.

The final typical reason that refinement aligners may be required is if you haven’t been following your treatment plan. Most aligner providers will ask you to wear your aligners every day for at least 22 hours a day. If you don’t do this, then your teeth won’t move as much as they’re supposed to. You may then move onto your next set of aligners too early, which means they won’t fit correctly and subsequently won’t adjust your teeth in the right way either. That’s why it’s so important you follow the instructions you’ve been given.

When will you know whether you need refinement aligners?

Most providers of teeth aligners will require you to check-in for updates throughout your treatment. These check-ins may simply be photos that you take yourself, or you may be asked to visit a clinic to have a full check-up. It’s usually during these updates that you’ll find out if your teeth aren’t moving as planned. If that’s the case, then you’ll be asked to take another impression or have a new scan, and your new set of refinement aligners will be produced for you.

If you are only giving your provider updates using photos, or if you aren’t being asked for check-in updates, then your issues may only come to light with your last set of aligners where you realize you haven’t had the results you were expecting. In that case, you’ll be able to review your treatment with your provider and identify whether further refinement aligners are necessary.

How much do refinement aligners cost?

In most cases, the cost of your refinement aligners will be included in your original treatment plan. The majority of cases are not caused by human error, but more by the fact it is impossible to predict how everyone’s mouth will react to teeth aligners. Almost every provider of aligner treatment offers some form of guarantee that states if you’ve followed their instructions and you haven’t seen the expected results, you are entitled to refinement aligners at no extra cost to you.

However, you’ll need to demonstrate that you have been following those instructions. And if you require aligner refinements during your treatment because you haven’t followed the plan, or because you’ve not taken your own impression correctly, you may need to pay for additional aligner sets. You may need to pay for a new impression kit, which can vary between $30 and $100, and then each set of aligners you require may cost around $100 or more, depending on your provider.

How long will it take to receive refinement aligners?

Once you’ve realized your treatment isn’t going to plan, you’ll need a new impression or scan of your teeth pronto. Once this new information has been sent to your aligner provider, it’ll take them between 2-5 weeks to create your new treatment plan and ship the refinement aligners to you.

It is vital that, during this time, you continue to wear your most recent set of aligners. If you don’t, your teeth could start to move back into an old position which would render your new impression or scans inaccurate, and would mean that once again your alignment treatment wouldn’t work. Keep wearing your most recent set until your new aligners arrive.

At any point during your treatment, if you feel that there may be something wrong with your aligners or that they aren’t working correctly, simply speak to your aligner provider who will be more than happy to reassure you, or investigate it further if it’s needed.