Clear aligners are to be worn 22 hours per day. Aligners are only removed to eat, drink, and to brush your teeth. The more you remove the aligners, the less they work. Patients who enjoy sipping coffee throughout the day, chewing gum frequently, or grazing instead of sitting down for a full meal are usually not ideal aligner candidates because aligners will be removed too often. If aligners are worn less than 22 hours per day, they will not be as effective and you may need to wear each aligner longer than 1 week in order for treatment to work. This means overall treatment will take longer, or it may not work at all.
If aligners are not worn as instructed, the teeth will not “track” in the aligners. Each aligner has a small amount of tooth movement programmed into it, so the aligner should be tight and exerting pressure on your teeth when you first put it in. At the end of the week, if the aligner has been worn properly, the teeth will fit perfectly in the aligner and it will be much looser than at the beginning of the week. However, if the aligner was not worn well, the aligner will still be tight at the end of the week. This means tooth movement has not been fully expressed and the aligner has more work to do. You should use the fit of the aligner to judge whether or not you are ready to move on to the next aligner, rather than changing every week regardless of fit. One week is the minimum length of wear per aligner.
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