How 3D Printing Has Transformed Orthodontics

A 3d printer on a white background.

One of the biggest players in the 3D printing orthodontic industry is Align Technology Inc., the company who manufactures Invisalign aligners, the clear plastic aligners that have taken the orthodontic field by storm. The company uses their iTero 3D Scanning system to individualize the aligners to each individual patient’s mouth.

If you had braces when you were younger, then you probably remember that yucky jelly-like substance that was used to help make impressions of your teeth. Now with the advantages of 3D printing, orthodontists can scan your oral cavity and convert the images into digital files which are then used to create aligners that are 3D printed and manufactured.

Other companies have since caught the 3D printing fever and have their own versions of 3D printed dental trays.

The ability to use an intraoral scanner, software and 3D printing has given orthodontists more precise control of tooth movement and allows quicker appliance manufacturing which saves both money and time. 3D printing is also being used to make bite splints and night guards using a transparent biocompatible material.

The Benefits of Choosing Invisalign

Besides the better precision that the 3D imaging allows, Invisalign aligners offer many other benefits as well:

  • There is more flexibility in orthodontic care mow. With the metal braces, once the orthodontist places them on your teeth, there they must remain until he or she removes them when treatment is finished. Invisalign braces however were designed with the wearer’s comfort in mind and are more flexible. With these braces, you can remove them on your own for short periods of time, like for instance, when you want to eat or drink something or when you are cleaning and flossing your teeth. With Invisalign there are no barriers to getting a proper clean.
  • Orthodontic care is a more comfortable experience. Invisalign braces don’t include any metal or wires that could cause damage to the inside your mouth. The clear braces are designed with a smooth finish so that they are no sharp edges that can cause you discomfort. Also metal braces have been known to accelerate teeth decay because of the enormous amount of pressure put on the teeth. With Invisalign, you still get the desired results but in a way that is gentler on your teeth. There are also no restrictions on what food you can eat like with metal braces so overall orthodontic care has become a much more comfortable experience then it used to be.
  • There are faster, more effective results. Probably one of the best things about choosing Invisalign is that even though it is a gentler process than conventional metal braces, it doesn’t take as long to do the same work. While you could wear metal braces for 3 years or more, you typically only have to wear the Invisalign braces from a year to a year and a half. Also because of the Invisalign technology you can feel more confident that the treatment will give you the results you were looking for.

You may be asking, what is the Invisalign process like? Overall what you can expect from the Invisalign experience is this:

At your first appointment, Orthodontics Limited will take x-rays and digital scans of your teeth to create a 3-D image of your teeth and then use this to map the exact movement of teeth needed to straighten them out.

Typically once you start treatment, you will be given a new set of aligners to wear every 2 weeks. Each new set will move you further along in your treatment. You will also have a checkup with the orthodontist about every 6 weeks. You should be able to see progress at every stage of the treatment and you should see results a lot quicker.

Make sure you wear the aligners for at least 20-22 hours a day. If you don’t wear them for the prescribed amount of time, you will risk delaying your treatment so be diligent about wearing them.

The care of your Invisalign clear braces is really easy too. All you have to do is brush them and rinse them with warm water to clean them. Invisalign cleaning kits are also available.

When you choose Invisalign braces, there is less trial and error involved because everything is planned out ahead of time using special software. This means you will know what to expect ahead of time and there will be little room for guesswork. You will be able to feel confident throughout the whole process that the treatment is going as expected. This is especially important if you have a big event coming up that you want the braces to be off by.

Clear plastic aligners and 3D printing are not the only new advances in the world of orthodontics. Other orthodontic technologic advances include:

  • Nickel and Copper-Titanium Wires. Instead of stainless steel wires, more orthodontists are now using nickel or copper-titanium wires because they respond to the heat the mouth and will bend and tighten more naturally as the teeth shift. This will cut down on the need for more tightening appointments.
  • Temporary Anchorage Devices. Temporary anchorage devices are mini screws or mini implants that can be used to help shift more stubborn teeth when braces can’t do it alone.
  • CAD/CAM and Robotic Wire Bending Technology. While lingual braces have been around for a while, they have become much more effective with CAD/CAM and robotic wire bending technology used in combination with digital scanner. Getting the brackets and wires on the backs of the teeth can be challenging and used to only be the purview of the certain orthodontists. It is a lot easier to perfect now with the robotic wire bending assistance.

Orthodontic care today is such much different then you remember it. Contact Orthodontics Limited today for more information about how 3D printing has transformed orthodontics.