A desire to get ahead in our careers, coupled with the power of social media and TV makeovers, means many more of us are now looking to perfect our own smiles.
But not all of us wish to share these dental desires with everyone.
Indeed, Align’s Invisalign orthodontic system is now the treatment of choice for nearly 4 million patients possibly based on the fact that it achieves tooth straightening using virtually invisible, flexible, removable plastic covers or aligners as they are known.
It’s a far more discreet teeth-straightening option that conventional metal brackets that are cemented to the tooth surfaces, which are then pulled into position with visible wires.
And, because the clear aligners are removable and only need to be worn for 22 hours a day, they are easily taken out for eating and drinking, making them a bigger attraction.
But behind this treatment lie some rather nifty computer-aided treatment planning, some virtual modelling software, rapid 3D manufacturing processes, and mass customisation.
This means that right from the start, your treatment is guided by advanced new technology.
At your initial visit, the dentist will probably use Align’s digital iTero intraoral scanner to take a quick digital scan of the mouth using a hand-held camera wand.
This maps the alignment of the teeth, the shape of the mouth, its relationship with the surrounding tissues and the dimensions of the jaw.
At a touch of a button, these amassed images can then be displayed immediately on a screen in a variety of angles, which allows the dentist to demonstrate the anomalies that can be corrected with the Invisalign system. The images can even be manoeuvred to show the likely outcome of treatment.
The data is then fed into the company’s proprietary ClinCheck software that provides your dentist with highly sophisticated 3D digital diagnosis and treatment tools, that allowing him or her to explore every element of the dentition in minute detail to create a tailored treatment plan.
Each tooth can be analysed, shifted and rotated in virtual reality to explore the impact of its movement on the rest of the dentition and the consequence it could have on your treatment.
As a result the accuracy and predictability of treatment outcome can be greatly enhanced.
The software can also be used to demonstrate the anticipated outcome — and enables you to make the right choices using accurate diagnostic information.
It can even show how long the projected treatment will take, how many aligners will be needed to move the teeth, and so on, ensuring you’re fully informed.
Once a treatment plan has been agreed, the prescription is submitted digitally to Align Technology and each set of aligners — for the top and bottom teeth — is then custom-fabricated according to each stage of the plan.
Did you know?
An average patient has one year of a treatment, which is equivalent to 26 sets of Invisalign aligners!