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
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
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