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Home  Dentistry Articles  Invisalign


Invisalign is a trademarked name for an proprietary method of orthodontics developed by Align Technology, Incorporated.

Invisalign is billed as an "invisible" way of straightening teeth without using traditional braces. It works by using a series of custom fabricated aligners to gradually and sequentially move your teeth to their desired positions.

The primary advantage of Invisalign is cosmetic. The aligners are made from clear medical grade plastic that is not readily visible at normal conversational distance. Invisalign treatment also typically requires less frequent visits to the orthodontist during the course of treatment.

Invisalign is advertised as "invisible", however they are not truly invisible but merely difficult to detect at normal conversational distance.

The principle disadvantages are cost and effectiveness. Invisalign treatment is typically about 25% more costly than traditional braces. Also, Invisalign is not as effective as traditional braces as it cannot treat common orthodontic issues such as severe crowding, openbites, overbites or underbites.

Because they are difficult to detect, they have become particularly popular among adults who want to straighten their teeth without the unflattering look of traditional metal braces. Many orthodontists do not recommend Invisalign treatment for children or teenagers whose second molars (12 year molars) have not erupted. The Align Technology was incorporated in April 1997. The company received FDA clearance to market Invisalign as a class I orthodontic devise in 1998 and began sales of Invisalign in July 1999. It was granted United States patent number 5,975,893 for a "Method and system for incrementally moving teeth" on November 2, 1999 . Introduction to the general market came in 2000.

The product initially met with resistance from many orthodontists who criticized the manufacturer for rushing the product into production and concentrating too heavily on marketing at the expense of product quality. The company claims that preliminary issues have largely been remedied in the last several years. Now over 70% of all US orthodontists are certified to treat patients using Invisalign.

Many orthodontists and dental health professionals deplore Invisalign's marketing practices; both the kind directed at orthodontists as well as the kind directed towards the general public. The advertisement to the public is that Invisalign is a more cosmetically pleasing alternative to dental braces. However, Invisalign aligners are not an alternative to braces in all cases. Invisalign's marketing to orthodontists is that the product is an effective means of enticing people to seek orthodontic treatment, as it preys on their insecurities, and once the patients are in the door, the dental professional can offer other types of treatment.

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