You’ve made the decision: it’s time for teeth straightening treatment. It’s an exciting moment. But once you get past the initial anticipation, it’s time to get started. For AlignerCo customers, that means ordering and completing an impression kit.
This first step is critical, but many customers don’t know quite what to expect. However, if you know what you’re getting into, the whole process often goes smoother. To help out, we’ve done a trial run for you, going through the entire impression process ourselves to provide an accurate and honest look at AlignerCo’s process.
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Things to Know Before Getting Started
AlignerCo’s dental team can’t create precise aligners before looking at your teeth. That’s where the impression kit comes in. Using your impressions, their dentists will evaluate your condition to determine your candidacy. If they can confidently treat your crowding or spacing, they’ll create a personalized treatment plan and clear aligners.
These clear aligners are designed to fit your teeth perfectly – your treatment’s effectiveness depends on it. So, perfect impressions help achieve perfect results. That’s why home aligner companies have high standards for your dental molds. Which is why customers sometimes struggle to make perfect impressions. And why we’ve created this guide – to help you nail those impressions on the first try.
Keep in mind that some conditions, like bite issues and severe crowding or spacing, are best treated with an in-office option like Invisalign or braces. If your condition is too severe for AlignerCo’s treatment, they will refund you for the impression kit and any money you pre-paid on your aligners.
Step 1: Place Your Order
If you’re not sold on AlignerCo just yet, you can purchase an impression kit by itself for $49.99. But if you’re all in, you can go for their SmileAdvantage (or NightAdvantage) bundle, which includes your impression kit, your aligner treatment, and one set of aftercare retainers for $895, or $1,095 for NightOnly treatment.
Let’s walk through the order process for a single impression kit:
Click “Checkout” and you’ll be directed to an order form that requires your billing details, shipping address, and credit/debit card number.
After you hit “Place Order,” you’re done! You should receive a confirmation email displaying your order information along with your billing and shipping addresses. If anything looks incorrect, contact AlignerCo immediately to clear it up.
Your impression kit should arrive in just a few days. Once it shows up, you’re ready to get started.
Step 2: Unbox Your Impression Kit
What’s inside that impression kit box? AlignerCo gives you everything you need to complete the process quickly and easily, including:
An Impression Guide: This handy booklet provides step-by-step instructions for taking your impressions, including guides, photos, and helpful tips.
Practice putty: Practice makes perfect. You can use this putty to take a trial run before you do your official impressions. You can even snap a picture of your practice impression and send it to AlignerCo for feedback.
Molding putty: There are two types of putty: a base and a catalyst. When you blend one of each and sink your teeth in, the mixture will slowly harden, creating a mold. AlignerCo provides enough to make four impressions – two on top and two on bottom.
Top and bottom trays: These plastic trays fit most dental arches, and they hold the putty while you bite down. There are two top trays and two bottom ones.
A cheek retractor: This is a plastic device that pulls back your lips and cheeks so you can take clear photos of your teeth (also required for evaluation).
Disposable gloves: To keep the whole process sanitary!
An envelope and prepaid shipping label: When you’re finished with your impressions, you can package them up and send them right back.
Step 3: Take Photos of Your Teeth
AlignerCo’s dentists can get a ton of information from your impressions, but since they can’t peer into your mouth, they’ll need some photos as well. You’ll need to take and email five photos of your teeth, each one from a different angle.
Grab the cheek retractor from your kit. Place it on either side of your mouth with the larger tabs on the inside. This will provide a full view of your smile.
- Front bite – Bite down naturally and take a close-up photo from the front.
- Right side bite – Bite all the way down on your back teeth (like you would naturally) and position your camera on the right side. Make sure you can see all the way to the back two molars.
- Left side bite – This is the same as the right side photo except – you guessed it – you’ll position the camera on the left side. Again, make sure you can see all the way to the back two molars.
- Upper teeth – Tilt your head back until you can see the bottom surfaces of all your back teeth and take a photo of your top dental arch.
- Lower teeth – Tilt your head forward until you can see the top surfaces of all your back teeth and take a photo of your bottom dental arch.
Now you’ve got a full set of beautiful photos. Review them to make sure they’re clear, well-lit, and give a full look at your teeth. If everything looks good, email them to AlignerCo. They’ll let you know soon after if you need to retake them.
Here are a few extra tips to help you take some great selfies:
- Make sure you’re in a well-lit space
- Use your phone’s flash to see your entire mouth
- Be careful that your lips and tongue don’t get in the way
- Getting some help from a friend can make the process easier
Step 4: Nail Your Impressions
Take a deep breath because it’s time for the main event. Before you start the process, review the Impression Guide included in your kit and this guide on AlignerCo’s website. Refer back to them while you make your impressions if you have any questions.
First, make sure to brush and floss. You don’t want anything in your teeth that could interfere with the impressions! Also, you should confirm that your trays are the right size. Put an empty one in your mouth and confirm that it fits your top and bottom teeth. If so, you’re ready to go.
You should also practice making impressions with the included practice putty. If you want confirmation that you’re doing it right, send AlignerCo photos of your practice impressions and they’ll let you know. When you feel comfortable, grab the real putty.
You’ll be taking four impressions: two of your top teeth and two of your bottom ones. The process is identical for both, so you won’t need to worry about doing anything different.
Step 1: Grab your putty, one of each color. Get your phone or watch ready, because you’ll want to keep track of time during the next few steps. Take one base and one catalyst putty and get ready to mix them.
Step 2: Mix the blue and white putties until you get one solid blue color (no streaks or swirls!). Once combined, the putty will start to harden, so you’ll ideally want to finish this step in 30 seconds or less.
Step 3: Roll the mixture between your palms until you have a 4-inch long cylindrical shape that fills the impression tray from end to end. Aim to complete this step in 15 seconds.
Step 4: Use a mirror to align the tray in your mouth. Try to make sure your teeth are right in the middle of the putty. Then push it up (or down) without wiggling it. Make sure the putty covers all of your teeth and overlaps your gumline.
Step 5: Pull your upper or lower lip over the putty and tray and leave everything in place for 4.5 minutes. When time is up, use the tab to remove the tray. Voilá! You’ve got your first impression. Don’t try to remove the putty from the tray; you can just leave it in.
Step 5: Repeat this process with the other top and bottom trays.
A quick warning: There will be drool involved when taking your impressions. It might not be pretty, but it’s unavoidable if you want perfect impressions. Just keep some paper towels nearby to clean up.
A couple of important reminders:
- Make sure that your impressions are deep enough. You should feel the putty on both sides of all your teeth and gums, including the molars.
- The impressions should include your gum line, so the putty should overlap your gum line.
- If your putty isn’t mixed all the way, it won’t work. The mixture should be one solid color, with no streaks before you put it in the tray.
There’s no shame in asking for help. In fact, we’d encourage it! If you’re nervous about making your impressions or struggling with the practice putty you can schedule a video call with an AlignerCo representative who will walk you through the process.
What if I Mess Up My Impressions?
We won’t lie: taking impressions can be slightly difficult. This is why AlignerCo gives you multiple attempts at it and offers video support. Still, it might take a few tries to get it right.
Let’s say you finish your impressions and none of them look quite right. Maybe they’re too shallow. Maybe they don’t capture your gum line. Maybe your teeth moved around too much. Don’t panic! If you’re unsure whether your impression will be acceptable, send them off anyway.
AlignerCo’s dentists will let you know if you need to try it again. In this case, they’ll send another kit for $40. And if you’re certain that you botched them, give customer support a call or email so they can send a new $40 kit.
Step 5: Review Your Treatment Preview
Pat yourself on the back, because you’ve finished your impression kit. Pile all your molds into the shipping envelope (don’t use plastic bags), apply the prepaid shipping label, and mail it off.
When AlignerCo receives your impressions, they’ll evaluate your teeth and determine whether you’re eligible for treatment. Home aligners can treat a fairly wide range of conditions, but not everything. They’re restricted to mild/moderate crowding and spacing and can’t often correct severe cases or bite misalignments (overbite, underbite, etc.). If they determine that you’re not a good candidate for treatment, AlignerCo will refund you the cost of
But if you’re a good candidate, AlignerCo’s dental team will start developing your full treatment plan and send you a Smile Projection, which takes 12–14 business days. This is a digital 3D model that shows your smile during every stage of treatment.
Some companies give you a step-by-step preview that shows how your teeth will look at each stage in the process. However, AlignerCo just gives you before and after images, so you won’t be able to see exactly how your teeth will move.
Before Moving Forward: Is AlignerCo Right for You?
At this point, you’re at a crossroads: you can either move forward with your treatment plan or back out without any consequences (although you won’t receive a refund for your impression kit). During this step, you can also choose whether you’d like AlignerCo’s standard daytime treatment or their NightOnly aligners. Both treatment plans use the same aligners, just on different wear schedules.
If you decide to continue with treatment, AlignerCo will manufacture your aligners and ship them to you directly. This whole process typically takes about three weeks. Then, once you receive your aligner bundle, your full treatment plan should only take around 4–6 months.
AlignerCo’s low prices make it a fantastic option for anyone operating on a budget. But it’s not the only home aligner company out there. If you’re not set on AlignerCo treatment, check out other options in our guide to the top 5 home aligner companies.
Our #1-recommended home teeth straightening system is Byte, and they have an average treatment plan length of just 4–5 months thanks to their unique vibration technology. So if you’re trying to straighten your teeth on a tight budget and timeline, Byte is worth considering as well.
If you’ve followed all the instructions listed here, then you’ve taken your first step toward your new smile. Even though impression kits can sometimes be difficult, when you consider the fast treatment times, lower prices, and time you’ll save with AlignerCo’s treatment, this minor inconvenience is well worth it.
With the help of this guide, you’ll have the information and confidence you need to take amazing impressions right off the bat. Then, you can look forward to the rest of the journey toward a dazzling transformed smile.