What’s the Best Brand of Clear Aligner?
Since clear aligners were first introduced in 1997, many new companies have cropped up offering various forms of treatment using this method.
It can be daunting to understand all the different brands of clear aligners, as well as the different methods of treatment. But it’s important to know your options, as well as your treatment preferences, so you can make an informed decision with your orthodontist about your health.
We’ve offered some helpful information below, to help you understand the different clear aligner brands and questions to consider before you make a decision.
Mail-Order Clear Aligners: A Risky Business
In the past few years, several companies have begun offering a new kind of clear aligner treatment: orthodontics by mail. So-called “tele-dentists” now offer full orthodontic treatment that can be done at home, by using clear aligners mailed to your house. These companies boast of the ease of at-home treatment, especially the convenience of never having to visit an actual orthodontist’s office.
It sounds great – but does it actually work?
Unfortunately, there are a number of risks associated with mail-order aligners that need to be considered before pursuing this kind of treatment. While the different brands of tele-dentistry clear braces offer different treatment plans, the fact is, never seeing a real orthodontist can have real consequences for your smile.
Understanding Mail-Order Aligners: Questions to Ask
There are numerous mail-order aligner companies offering at-home orthodontic treatment. Although each brand offers its own spin on mail-order aligners, the general treatment plan is the same.
Treatment either begins at a boutique-style smile shop, where a salesclerk takes images of your teeth. Whereas in an office the assistants and technicians are specially trained and the scans are supervised by a doctor, in these smile shops the clerk has little to no dental experience and there is no doctor supervision.
Would you let the grocery teller cut your hair? Probably not. Why would you trust your teeth with someone with no real dental experience?
For companies without “smile shops”, you will likely take impressions at home with an impression mold putty kit. But good luck taking good impressions! Getting a highly accurate mold of your teeth is a challenge even for trained dental assistants! Doing them on your own mouth is even more challenging. You wouldn’t let your grocery teller cut your hair without experience – you’d be even less likely to cut your own hair without experience!
From here, your treatment is 100% remote: your aligners are mailed to you, and a dentist will inspect your teeth from afar to see if the treatment is working. Unfortunately, if the information used to design the treatment is incorrect, there is no orthodontist to check before you get started.
The accuracy of the aligners is critically dependent on the quality of the impressions or scan. If these impressions are inaccurate, the aligners will not fit, or might move your teeth into an even more misaligned position. The truth is, not all teeth can be fixed by mail-order aligners. Tele-dentists are supposed to deny treatment in cases that are too complex to fix from afar, but in reality, almost every case gets approved, in some cases 100% of cases.
The results have been shown to be extremely mixed, and in many cases, actually worsened dental conditions for patients. Due to rising concern about the effectiveness of this style of treatment, the American Dental Association recently passed a resolution discouraging the use of mail-order aligners, and the American Association of Orthodontists issued a consumer alert, as well as filing complaints with the dental boards of 36 states against tele-dentists for irresponsible care.
There are important questions to consider before seeking orthodontic treatment with at-home aligners:
- Are comprehensive diagnostic records like X-Rays taken?
- Do you know the name and/or credentials of the person supervising your treatment?
- What is included in the price of your treatment – e.g. diagnostic records, follow-up care, retainers., etc.?
- Do you have the option to visit an orthodontist’s office?
- Is there only a single, one-size-fits-all treatment offered?
- How will you know if your teeth and gums are healthy for treatment?
- If an issue arises, who will take care of it and where will you go for help?
- If you have a dispute with the company or supervising professional, what rights do you have against them?
- Is this company compliant with the dental laws in your state?
Comparing In-Office Clear Aligner Brands
Nearly all orthodontics offices now offer some form of clear aligner treatment. However, not all offices straighten teeth with the same aligners.
There are several different clear aligners brands available in-office. Some practices offer multiple brands, while others exclusively partner with one specific brand of aligner.
Invisalign is the original brand of clear aligner, and is still the most popular brand for in-office treatment, but there are many other brands offering clear braces for in-office orthodontic care. Still other orthodontic practices offer their own custom-made aligners without partnering with a branded product.
All of these brands have the advantage of being used in partnership with a real orthodontist. Supervised care by a licensed doctor is the most important factor in the effectiveness and outcome of your treatment. However, the materials make a great deal of difference, too. While each brand listed above is used by an orthodontist, they are not all created equal.
Less popular brands have fewer treated cases to assess when determining their effectiveness. There may be less research available about the effectiveness of these treatments, or info about the materials used in the aligners. This can make it more difficult to determine whether that specific brand of aligner is right for you.
Invisalign: The Clear Difference
Since its introduction in 1997, Invisalign has consistently been the #1 choice of orthodontists in offering clear aligner treatments. They continue to innovate the field of clear braces, with years of research and dedicated funding to develop the best materials and methods in straightening teeth.
Invisalign uses premium, patented materials in its treatment, including SmartTrack™ plastic, designed exclusively for clear aligner orthodontic treatment. Research has found that SmartTrack aligners help speed up treatment times by 50%, and straighten teeth with 75% more predictability. Invisalign spent over 8 years in research and development to make this product, testing over 260 materials and relying on decades of biomedical research to create the best clear aligner on the market.
They have also developed a patented form of attachment, the small fixtures attached to your teeth that give clear braces added grip. SmartForce™ attachments are created exclusively to maximize the effectiveness of Invisalign aligners.
For effectiveness, reliability, and comprehensive dependability, Invisalign aligners supervised by a real orthodontist are the clear winner in straightening teeth. And the fact is, mail-order aligners don’t stack up against Invisalign.
Your teeth are forever: straighten them with the best clear aligners, using the best orthodontists, to achieve a smile built to last a lifetime!