3D printing has changed orthodontic care by providing offices with a way to customize appliances for each patient with state-of-the-art modeling techniques. Whether an orthodontist can spring for the equipment to print appliances in-office or send away for them from a dedicated printer, 3D-printed Invisalign aligners provide a new dimension of personalization and comfort to orthodontic treatment.
Continue reading to learn about Invisalign, including the steps it takes for offices to 3D-print a custom aligner and the benefits of using this trending technology to improve the patient experience.
Want to find out if you or your child needs braces? Visit Reese Orthodontics in Charleston, SC for leading orthodontic care.
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is a clear plastic aligner molded from a patient’s teeth. It works similarly to braces in that the aligner applies gradual pressure to move teeth to healthier positions over time. Like braces, Invisalign can treat many malocclusions, such as underbite, overbite, crossbite, crowding, and gaps, though severe conditions often still require conventional braces.
Every two weeks, the patient replaces their current aligner with a new one, often receiving several at a time from their provider so that treatment can be mostly self-directed. As treatment progresses, the aligners become straighter. So long as they are worn as directed, Invisalign aligners should have a similar treatment outlook as braces.
The treatment itself, however, is much different. The printed aligners are worn in succession and constantly refined using new 3D scanning technology. Rather than rely on one-time physical molds to gauge a patient’s treatment progress, 3D printing techniques allow providers to customize the sequential molds to the patient’s exact progress.
How does 3D Printing Help?
Printed molds are made from digital scans of the patient’s oral structures, which record everything in three dimensions. The accuracy of these scans makes the fit of the appliances made from the molds more accurate, which makes them more comfortable and effective.
3D printing can also be used for retainers, even if a patient received conventional braces as their main treatment. As soon as the braces come off, the orthodontist can have a printed retainer ready based on the newest scans. The convenience of the molding and printing process has reduced retainer costs for patients in addition to saving them time and money on unnecessary office visits.
How Digital Scanning Changes Invisalign
No matter how customized, conventional braces remain more generalized treatments than 3D-printed aligners. The first step to making them consists of a digital 3D scan that perfectly maps your oral structures. This allows the 3D printer to create appliances tailored to your mouth.
But digital scanning comes with other benefits besides accuracy. One is that traditional molding is uncomfortable for the patient, often provoking anxious feelings and sometimes activating a gag reflex. Digital scans get rid of the mess, the weird-tasting alginate that makes the mold, and the time commitment. Plus, a provider can reuse a digital scan indefinitely to create new appliances, eliminating the need for remolding in the event of a lost appliance.
Treatment Planning for the Digital Age
Efficient scanning isn’t the only way 3D printing uses digital methods to refine orthodontic treatment. With molds of the patient’s teeth scanned into computers, orthodontists can now utilize them in new and exciting ways.
Using these scans, providers can examine their patients more meticulously, sometimes planning the treatment down to the tooth to provide personalized care. Since every malocclusion is unique, customizable treatment options provide service on a whole new level.
The benefits of this advanced planning are numerous, including increased comfort for the patient during treatment and a more efficient treatment schedule, which in some cases could result in financial savings. Note, however that Invisalign can sometimes be expensive compared to traditional braces and cannot always treat the same conditions. Consider a consultation to review your options and learn whether Invisalign would be an effective treatment.
Choose Reese Orthodontics
If you’re an adult who is considering braces, you need professional advice on your treatment and payment options. For orthodontic treatments in Charleston, SC, Reese Orthodontics offers the latest technology and treatment plans. Our advanced and comfortable orthodontic treatments can be customized to suit your needs. A consultation with Reese Orthodontics includes scans, a comprehensive exam, and a conversation with the orthodontist to discover which treatment options are right for you.
Schedule an appointment with us today to stay ahead of your oral health and receive the best possible treatment in your area.