You know you are at the cutting-edge of technology when someone tells you it involves 3D printing. This is still something it’s quite hard for many of us to get our heads around. How do you print something in three dimensions? 3D printing however, has revolutionised the world of teeth straightening, with the advent of Invisalign teeth aligners.
Invisalign is an increasingly popular way to straighten teeth, and is available from many reputable dental practices, including One Smile Oral Care in West Malling.
A Clear Alternative
What makes Invisalign different from bracket and wire braces systems is that it uses transparent plastic trays, rather like mouth guards, that slide snugly over the teeth. At 0.3 millimetres thick, they are so thin that it is almost impossible to see them.
The trays are made specifically for each patient, from impressions taken by their dentist, in a special production facility. The lab also uses information sent by the dentist to calculate the path the teeth need to travel along to reach their required alignment. The laboratory makes a series of aligner trays using 3D printing. Each aligner is designed to be slightly different from the previous one, marking another one step along the journey for the teeth to reach. The pressure from each small move forward in tray design is what nudges the teeth along their trajectory.
The patient wears each aligner for 2 or 3 weeks before moving on to the next one. The number of aligners varies between about 12 and 48, depending on the misalignments that need to be corrected. Treatment can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years but is usually about one year.
Invisalign has another great advantage in that the aligners are removable, so cleaning in much easier. It also means that the patient can leave them off entirely for a few hours if they have to attend an important social or professional event.
A Hidden Plus of Invisalign
People often lose weight when using Invisalign. As they need to wear their aligners for at least 22 hours a day, it cuts out mindless snacking. Also, people stop drinking coloured drinks in order not to discolour the aligners, and so cut out even more calories.