Every generation or so, there is new technology that comes along and changes the landscape of an industry. Uber has transformed our transportation mode, electronic funds transfer has changed how we do banking, and social media is changing the way we communicate. In orthodontics, that revolutionary invention is Invisalign.
Developed in 1998, Invisalign is reshaping the way people are straightening their teeth and improving their smile. Patients using Invisalign wear a custom-made series of clear plastic aligners over their teeth that they change out weekly, which gently shift teeth into place, based on the exact movements their orthodontist plans.
To date, Invisalign has treated more than six million cases. The company started out with 35,000 providers in the first decade and now there are nearly double that worldwide. It is estimated that by 2023, Invisalign or aligner-type products will account for 50 percent of the market. Currently, my practice is 85 percent Invisalign cases.
The reason the orthodontic community is shifting away from fixed appliances is due to the many advantages of these removable clear aligners. Most notably, patients have fewer office visits and spend less time in the chair. And, on average, treatment with Invisalign is often completed faster than treatment with traditional braces.
In my practice, more than three-quarters of patients who come in specifically request Invisalign, and the majority of the other one-fourth, when given the choice, choose Invisalign.
Invisalign is also changing the demographics of patients, as more adults are straightening their teeth with this method. Since most adults do not want to wear traditional braces, there was a large pent-up demand for something else that would help improve their smile. While I still see the same number of adolescent and teens, my adult patients are growing exponentially and now account for more than half of my practice.