Backtracking is when you have a patient repeat (assuming the patient has saved their worn aligners) previous aligners in sequence longer than originally planned. Usually, when one of the below circumstances exist, the teeth may just need more time to make the difficult movements. Backtracking gives the teeth the time that they need to get back on track with treatment.
Backtracking is used when:
- Aligners don't fit
- If the patient has been non-compliant and hasn't stuck to the recommended wear schedule of at least 22 hours per day
Here is an example of how to backtrack:
Let's say there is a poor fit on aligner 15.
- Ask the patient to return with their bag of aligners they have ‘worn and saved’.
- Starting with the aligner just previous to the one they are currently wearing (#15), have them try on the previous aligner. If it does not fit satisfactorily, ask them to put on the next previous aligner. Repeat this process until you find a set of aligners that fit well.
- Then, with the aligner that fits well, have the patient begin wearing the next aligners in sequence for 2 weeks each (do not continue the series if any set does not fit well).
- Progress 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.