Tech Tip: Backtracking

Backtracking is when you have a patient wear the previous aligners longer than originally planned. Often, when the teeth have gone off track, they need additional time in a previous aligner to move fully into position.

Indicators for when backtracking may be needed:

How to...

Here is an example of how to backtrack:

Lets say there is a poor fit on aligner #15.

1. Ask the patient to return with their bag of aligners they have 'worn and saved'.

2. Starting with the aligner they are currently wearing (#15), have them try the previous set (#14). If it does not fit satisfactorily, ask them to put on the next previous aligner (#13). Repeat this process until you find a set of aligners that fit well, (lets say, for the sake of example, #12 fits well).

3. Then with the aligner that fits well (#12), have the patient begin wearing the next aligners in sequence, (#13) for 2 weeks each.

4. Progress forward through the series until reaching the last aligner that did not fit well (#15), then continue moving through the series of aligners as long as each aligner fits as it should.

A couple notes on backtracking:

  • Patients should be educated to keep (do not throw away) their previously worn aligners through treatment.
  • If your patient does not have their previous aligners, they can be remade by the lab. Keep your patient in their current aligners until these arrive. 
  • Backtracking may not work if some teeth have progressed and others have not. If you do not find an aligner that fits well, you may need to do a revision. 
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