May 24, 2024
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Join the Teeth Straightening Boom Using Clear Aligners

   Historical Background

Orthodontics might seem like the most modern branch of dentistry, but the “perfect smile” has been a project since Ancient Egypt.

The importance of having healthy and aligned teeth dates back as early as 1000 BCE. Archeologists discovered many mummified remains in and around Egypt that had crude metal bands around their teeth, and researchers believe catgut may have been tied to these bands to provide pressure to move the teeth.

In addition, there are records of an ancient Roman scientist recording his discovery that by applying finger pressure on teeth for an extended period of time, over the course of months, one could move teeth into a new position.

Poorly aligned teeth and jaws have always affected our ability to chew and speak, therefore, it isn’t surprising that the history of orthodontics goes back thousands of years

Historically, orthodontists used metal braces to correct misaligned teeth. However, the latter part of the 20th century saw more and more adults seeking to have straighter and more beautiful smiles, forcing the orthodontic community to find a more cosmetic and comfortable way to straighten teeth.

Plastic Aligners

Invisible clear aligners were being used for minor tooth movements since the 1980s, but it wasn’t until 1999, with the formation of a company called Align Technology, that the use of invisible clear aligners became a real alternative to metal bands and wires. Their product, Invisalign, became the most widely used and most recognized brand of clear plastic aligner on the market. They held patents on the use of computerized algorithms that were able to predict the speed of teeth movement and allowed for all aligners needed to reach the desired position to be manufactured before treatment even began.

How they work

Aligners are made of clear molded plastic that fit over the teeth. Aligners are generally changed every week or two, with each aligner moving teeth slightly and passing the movement on to the next aligner in sequence. To allow the teeth to be in the correct new position the following week, the aligners need to be worn all day and night except when eating, drinking and brushing your teeth. Some systems, including Invisalign, use small attachments that are bonded on the teeth to allow for more complex tooth movements. These attachments, however, do make the aligners less invisible.

Once the desired position of the teeth is achieved, one needs to keep the teeth in that position by wearing a retainer, a slightly stiffer version of the aligners, which needs to only be worn at night.

New choices for the consumer

There are millions of Americans who desire straighter teeth but hold off on treatment because of cost, convenience and fear of going to the dentist. Fortunately, there are now companies on the market that are providing clear aligner therapy out of the dentists’ offices and at significantly lower prices.

Align Technology truly did revolutionize the field of teeth straightening, but the cost of the Invisalign system was very expensive, averaging $5,000-$8,000. However, as they are now losing their patents, others have begun to enter the field and prices have started to fall.

Smile Direct Club and MOD Mouth are two such entities selling low cost clear aligners directly to consumers. Dentists and professional trade groups such as The American Dental Association and The American Association of Orthodontists warn that because tooth movement is a complex medical procedure one needs to make certain they are under the supervision and treatment of oral health professionals when going through aligner therapy. A complete medical and dental history must be taken and one’s oral health needs to be assessed by dental professionals before beginning aligner treatment.

The average costs of aligner therapy with these new “out of the dentist office” companies are significantly less expensive than Invisalign, with MOD Mouth aligner treatment, for instance, selling for $1,799, which includes all aligners as well as the first set of retainers.

Is it time to say goodbye to braces?

There remains a share of the pre-adolescent population that still benefits from the use of traditional braces for more complex tooth movements especially when one needs to correct jaw relationships. Clear plastic invisible aligners are a revolutionary way to move teeth for adults and older teenagers. In addition, the price level at which one can now purchase these aligners as well as the convenience and ease of the process, makes the attainment of straight beautiful smiles accessible to all.

Remember, your smile is the most powerful accessory you have!

By Dr. Steven Davidowitz, D.D.S.

Dr. Steven Davidowitz is in private practice on the UES of Manhattan focusing on aesthetic dentistry and clear aligner treatment. He is a co-founder and COO of MOD Mouth.

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