By Dr. John White
Smiles by White
One company emerging in the marketplace has a similar concept to Invisalign – aligning teeth with clear removable aligners. Though, instead of visiting a dentist’s or orthodontist’s office to get diagnostic X-rays and a professional exam, you order a kit online and the company sends you putty that you mix up and put in a tray to make your own impression of your mouth.
However, since it is done at home, quality control suffers and many of the impressions taken are either inadequate and rejected, or marginally adequate and accepted. (Even in a doctor’s office when impressions are taken by a trained professional, the rejection rate by Align is 14 percent.) Once the impressions are sent back to the lab, computer software is used to line up the teeth. It is basically a generic treatment plan that is based only on the teeth themselves without regard for the face, the proper bite, bone health and anatomy, and a host of other considerations.
The manufacturing process is done by the same company that makes Invisalign, however, older materials are used and the steps are limited to 20 stages, whether or not that completes the process. (Average Invisalign cases nationally take between 25 to 45 stages to get teeth properly aligned under the supervision of a doctor.)
But the main difference is that the process is not closely supervised by a dentist or orthodontist, apart from perhaps someone giving a cursory look during the design process.
With Invisalign, the orthodontist controls the entire process, which leads to better results. I often use adjunctive procedures, such as putting attachments on some teeth to get better control and resizing some teeth for a better fit, among many other design tweaks.
With the generic system, you are getting a watered-down version of what orthodontists can do. While this may appeal to those who don’t want to spend the time going to a dentist’s office to get evaluated and for checkups, or to pay a lower fee, the quality is not the same.
Orthodontic care is an art and a science, and not just a product to be dispensed.
In my office, I embrace the doctor-patient relationship and put my name on the quality of the results. I don’t sell products, I sell results.