Why Do Your Clear Aligners Need Power Ridges?

Traditional orthodontic braces are made up of a number of different pieces. There are brackets attached to the individual teeth, with an archwire threaded through these brackets. There are also various ligatures, elastics, hooks, and even a coil spring, depending on the patient's orthodontic needs. Perhaps this is why clear aligners can be so appealing. They're a single unit, made of transparent thermoplastic which is tightly slotted over the teeth, with each unit being replaced once it has repositioned teeth to the limits of its configuration. But sometimes clear aligners need attachments to reach their maximum effectiveness. So what does it mean when your orthodontist tells you that you'll need power ridges?

Composite Resin Bumps

Power ridges aren't as exciting as they might sound, while still serving an essential purpose. They're more like small bumps made of a tooth-colored composite resin, which is the same material used in dental bonding or to fill cavities. When needed, power ridges are applied to the front (mesial) and rear (distal) surfaces of the upper and lower incisors. What are they for?

Vertical Position 

Incisors can be straightened with the help of power ridges. When these teeth have developed at an angle, power ridges can apply strategic torque to these specific teeth, helping to move them into the optimum vertical position. For example, an incisor that is tilting backward will have power ridges applied near the gum line (on the mesial surface), and towards the top of the tooth (on its distal surface). When clear aligners are worn, pressure is directed via these ridges, which helps the tooth to slowly move into the vertical position.

Treatment With Power Ridges

It's not going to be painful to have power ridges fitted. The application process is brief and is limited to your dental enamel (so you won't be able to feel it). You might feel additional pressure focussed on your incisors, but this won't be overt. And in any event, you'll quickly get used to the sensation, so it won't cause ongoing discomfort. For some patients, the addition of power ridges can result in a poor fit of their clear aligners, which may slip off. If this should occur, your power ridges can be replaced with gingival beveled rectangular attachments, which serve the same purpose, but are a different shape, offering greater traction when needed. Once your orthodontic treatment with clear aligners has been successful, your power ridges (or gingival beveled rectangular attachments) are simply removed. 

Power ridges probably sound more interesting than they are, but for some patients, they're a necessary addition to their clear aligners.  

Contact a local dentist to learn more about clear aligners.