For decades, braces have been the go-to treatment for misaligned teeth. Although very effective, braces came with several difficulties. They had to stay firmly in the mouth 24/7 for several months. Brushing and flossing teeth is more difficult while wearing braces. Certain foods have to be avoided during that time, such as hard candies and sticky foods. Although braces are commonly worn to improve your appearance, braces themselves can make the wearer feel self-conscious.
Invisalign vs. Braces
Invisalign has taken away all the discomfort of wearing braces while steadily gaining in popularity. These clear teeth straighteners have taken the market by storm with their low-profile appearance, easy daily removal, and significantly lower cost compared to braces. About 12 million people around the world try to get their teeth straightened every year, and 90 percent of those will use braces. Of the remaining 10 percent, there are enough users of Invisalign that its parent company, Align, has become a publicly traded company with a net worth of around $16 billion.
Who can Compete with Invisalign?
Over five million smiles have been changed by Invisalign, and people are noticing. A direct competitor, Smile Direct Club, even set up a similar system, with a DIY approach at home, but regulatory boards are working hard to clamp down on their mail-order, teledentistry approach to orthodontic work. Invisalign works directly with orthodontists and dentists who sell and monitor the use of their products. They also supply aligners to Smile Direct Club and own 19% of the company. Align has offered free digital scans and referrals for local orthodontists or dentists who offer Invisalign treatments through their Invisalign Experience stores in popular retail locations.
As the need for orthodontistry grows, especially in rural areas, there is a possibility that regulation might loosen up its reigns on groundbreaking teledentistry techniques such as Invisalign and its various competitors. For now, Align is following the rules and winning spectacularly in its mission to improve smiles wherever an orthodontist can be found. Savings can be in the thousands of dollars for patients who choose Invisalign over braces, depending on how complex their orthodontic needs are.
How Invisalign Works
The process for Invisalign treatment goes something like this:
- A patient goes to an orthodontist to have her teeth scanned.
- Invisalign creates customized plastic aligners to be worn about 22 hours a day for 12 to 18 months.
- An orthodontist or dentist will place the aligner in the mouth, helping to make sure it fits and is well-aligned to the shape of the mouth. Temporary brackets may be placed between teeth to help it stay in place.
- The patient checks in with her orthodontist about once a month to see if the aligners are working properly.
- At the end period, the orthodontist or Invisalign-trained dentist will remove the temporary brackets. The patient may be required to wear retainers for part of the day and overnight to maintain dental improvements.
For those who have been avoiding braces out of fear of discomfort, the way they might affect their appearance, or the heavy price tag, Invisalign has become an answer to their concerns. It’s no wonder that Invisalign is leading the way to brighter smiles with less of an impact on patient budgets and lifestyles.