Clear and invisible aligners are the newest addition to the club of orthodontic tools that our dentists use to treat tooth misalignment, but there are aligners which are available for at-home use. The market leaders across both types are Invisalign Weybridge and Smile Direct; which is considered better? Let’s take this head-on and get some clarity on these clear aligner manufacturers.
The beginning of the clear aligner began being tested back in the ’70s and was referred to as a dental splint. They showed that the elastic force generated by plastic under tension could move teeth over time, but this seemed initially like a dead end.
In the ’90s, the idea took a great leap forward when two medical students decided to pair these dental splints with computer-guided orthodontics. The role of the computer was to run an anatomically correct model of a generic patient’s mouth. This could later be calibrated to meet the unique dental situation of each patient.
From this model, the quantity of force and time required to move teeth to their new positions could be accurately predicted. Knowing how hard each tooth needs to be pushed or pulled, and from what angles these forces need to be applied allows an aligner to be created which can apply those forces when under tension.
The aligners themselves, although deceptively simple in appearance, are extremely personalised and have to be used in the correct sequence to be effective. This created a manufacturing problem of how to cheaply make one-off items. It was the early 21st century and the rise of 3D printers that proved to be the solution.
With all of the technical hurdles crossed, we soon had our Invisalign Weybridge. Allowing us to provide aligners, the task of an aligner manufacturer and dentist is complementary by working inside of dental clinics like Weybridge Orthodontics as partners. The invisible brace company can rely on the expertise and guidance of our dentists to help patients through their treatment. It’s in the interest of the manufacturer, the clinic and the patient that the treatment with these braces is effective.
Our dentists provide the initial assessment and present these clear aligners as a possible solution to orthodontic issues. If treatment is pursued by the patient, carrying out an oral scan or taking a dental mould which is used to calibrate the computer model is typically the next stage.
Aligners that are not provided by dentists in practices do not operate in the same manner. Advertising directly to potential patients via TV and online, there is little motivation in them exploring any other orthodontic solutions other than the aligners that they manufacture. The reliance on home moulding kits introduces a lot of uncertainty into the effectiveness of the finished aligners, as a poorly taken mould will result in an incorrectly calibrated computer model and less, or ineffective aligners.
The volume of passion that many online manufacturers have compared to staff like ours is lower. As a local Invisalign Weybridgepractice, losing that one to one service that is associated with good quality dentistry and higher levels of care also results in the loss of personal responsibility for patients, which we pride ourselves with having as a community family dentist.