7 Things To Tell Your Patients Before Starting the Aligner Treatment: The Doctor’s Checklist
Research has proven that patients who participate in the conversation about their treatments are more likely to attain better outcomes. The more information a patient has about his health care, the better his contribution is to achieve the treatment plan.
When we consider aligner treatments, the role of the patient becomes all the more important. Lasting for more than six months on average, aligner treatments are a journey you take with your patients. To be better prepared to handle the effects of the treatment, they need to be aware of everything expected from wearing aligners.
That is easier said than done. As a dental practitioner with a business to run, you may sometimes skip a few pointers that may have seemed too obvious to mention. That could be a problem for the patient, requiring an extra office visit. To avoid that, we have compiled a checklist to use when you have a new patient starting the treatment.
1. Start by being explicit about the wear time and its consequences.
The fact that aligners are removable is both an advantage and disadvantage for patients and doctors. While the removable feature makes them more comfortable, it leads to inconsistencies in wear time, leading to inconsistent outcomes.
Ensuring that your patients understand all the possible repercussions of not wearing aligners for at least 20 hours a day or taking a week-long hiatus from them is your responsibility. We are certain mid-course corrections aren’t something you or your patient will look forward to. So, disciplining your patients will help you.
While accentuating the duration of wear, you should also emphasize that wearing an aligner doesn’t mean not taking them off throughout the 20 hours your patient has them on. They can take them off any number of times as long as they put them back on quickly. We have seen this piece of information fall through the cracks many times, inhibiting patients from taking out the trays.
2. Update your patients about changing the trays regularly.
The trays need to be changed every week, but you won’t see your patients for at least 8-10 weeks. How do you ensure it happens? Informing the patient about the same is a first. That’s often not enough. Following that with update calls to know the progress will be. If the patient continues to wear the same tray for three or more weeks, the treatment plan may need to be altered.
So, updating the trays is crucial to the progress of the treatment. Remote monitoring can help you keep track of how your patients are progressing. Our FXonTrack remote monitoring software will enable you to leverage AI to stay updated on all your patients’ treatment progression.
3. Inform them about the discomfort and physical changes.
There is a period of adjustment during the initial days of wearing a new tray, leading to discomfort and pain. This is common knowledge; your patients might already know and expect it. What they might not expect is the rest.
- Teeth sensitivity
If your patient has reduced enamel, aligner treatment might aggravate their condition, causing sensitive teeth. Fluoride can easily help them alleviate sensitivity, but you have to inform them.
- Sore tongue
Not resisting running their tongues over the trays causes a sore tongue. It may seem trivial, but continuously doing the same can lead to irritated gums and other soft tissues. If you inform the patient to be intentional about it, the problem will be resolved without your intervention.
- Speech impairment
During the initial days of aligner wear, speech impairment with a slight lisp is common. Patients find it difficult to pronounce certain words. Although speech does return to normal within a few days, patients can get worried. All you can do is tell them to practice speaking slowly.
The first week of the aligner treatment is always daunting for patients. Making them comfortable is your responsibility as a doctor, and laying down all the information is key to that.
You might not be able to avoid all of the changes, but you can give your patients a more comfortable experience with FXTetra Aligners. They do not exert excessive force to make the patients undergo more pain than necessary. A continuous optimal force is applied throughout the wear time for better comfort.
4. Provide the eating and drinking guide.
Aligners can go from transparent to translucent quickly if the patient regularly indulges in food and drinks that stain more. Curry, coffee, and wine will leave a stain 90% of the time. Letting your patients know that they can still enjoy them without the aligners on. To further prevent staining, advise the patients to brush their teeth before putting them back in place.
Broadcasting that drinks high in sugar need to be avoided at all costs, even if they are light in color, is also a critical part of the guide. The sugar build-up will stay between the teeth even after brushing and cling to the aligners, staining them. Your patients will want to keep the invisibility of the aligners intact. If you give them the comprehensive food and drinks guide, they will adhere to it.
We have a solution for stains as well. Our aligner polymers are built with a stain resistant technology that can tolerate high staining foods better than many leading aligner brands in the industry.
5. Also, point out the washing and cleaning routine.
Your patients need to know that their oral hygiene is directly proportional to their aligners’ hygiene. Giving them proper instructions on keeping their aligners clean becomes an advantage because you won’t have to deal with tooth decay on top of an alignment treatment.
- Not wearing aligners when eating or drinking anything except water;
- Washing aligners every time they take them out;
- Using anti-bacterial soap instead of toothpaste;
- Keeping them soaked in denture cleaners or water when not in use;
- Closing the box, the aligners are in;
Even in the most advanced polymer aligners, bacteria and plaque will build up if they are not cleaned properly. Discoloration and odor are other things often witnessed in aligners when a suitable cleaning routine isn’t followed. So, you must be extremely careful and precise when explaining the washing process.
6. Set an expectation of the treatment taking longer than planned.
80% of aligner treatments require mid-corrections. It is a fact that no one can deny. Even if you and your patients do everything by the book, there will still be a chance of a delay in the treatment. It could simply be the patient’s biology disagreeing with the treatment plan. Therefore, setting expectations in the beginning is essential to avoid disappointments later.
We have designed our aligners to provide you with a higher prediction rate and lower refinement rates. 8 out of 10 OrthoFX treatments have finished with not more than 1 refinement. When mid-course corrections are needed, our Rescue Aligners accelerate the process by up to 7 weeks. Maybe achieving 100% accuracy is difficult in predicting the exact treatment time; you can try to minimize the delays.
7. Lastly, relay what lies beyond retainers.
Once an aligner treatment is complete, the patient isn’t exactly a non-patient. He would need to wear retainers to keep his desired smile in place. Not informing the patient about that can cause some level of dissatisfaction.
Explaining the importance of wearing retainers for a certain amount of time and the fact they will help increase the likelihood of their smile being stable for a lifetime will cheer them up, alleviating the disapproval. You might also want to tell them about the slight chances of relapse to be on the safer side of the legalities.
We understand that you are a dental practitioner and a business owner. You want to do your best for your patient but also have a vested interest in your practice. Knowing exactly when to be a businessperson and when to be a doctor is important.
OrthoFX helps you be great at both. We provide you with one of the most advanced polymer aligners, FXTetra Aligners, that deliver better treatment outcomes. We also enable you to hand over patient acquisition and management to us, with FXConcierge, so that you can focus more time on patient care and business growth than managing day-to-day operations. We deliver an all-in-one solution to help you be better doctors and business owners. Visit orthofx.com to learn more.