Invisalign®: A clear alternative...
18 July 2022 | By Dr. Eric Meyer
Self-driving cars are not too far away, Elon Musk is sending re-usable rocket ships into outerspace, and we’re still moving teeth with metal? Not so fast! Align technology launches Invisalign® clear aligners in the late ’90s, howeverrrr, it’s first product is not even close to the efficiency and control that braces offer. Fast forward 20 years and the plastic is much better, the understanding of the force systems are well-studied, and features such as “attachments” (tooth colored bumps that are bonded to teeth) allow for added control.
So are we there yet? Although it’s come along way, studies have shown that Invisalign still lacks the control that braces offer with certain tooth movements, as well as cases with higher complexity. For example, moving roots is very difficult to do with the plastic trays. This is the kind of tooth movement that would be required in an extraction case where the roots need to move to close extraction spaces. We don’t have to worry about the predictability with wires and brackets. As you already know, braces are stuck to your teeth, so you don’t have a choice. With clear aligners, you are responsible for keeping the clear trays in (for 22 hours each day I might add).
On the other hand, clear aligners allow us to digitally move teeth and even avoid moving certain teeth. For example, if a patient wants to straighten their front teeth and has a great bite in their back teeth we can maintain them that way. That is much harder to do with braces where the outcome is not precisely controlled by a sophisticated computer software and almost all teeth get a bracket. What I really like about clear aligners is the fact that patients can much better floss and brush as they are removeable.
In summary, braces and clear aligners both have their own pros and cons. Not every patient is a candidate for clear aligners. In patients that are good candidates, Invisalign® works wonderfully. If you have a very complex case don’t worry, though! We can still predictably treat complex cases with a short phase of braces to work out the tough tooth movements, then finish with clear aligners. You get the best of both worlds!