We all know that technology progresses at a much faster rate these days. Buy a PC, TV or Laptop and 6 months later a newer, better version has come along. So does that mean the previous versions are now obsolete? Of course not.
With braces, the old traditional metal train track braces are very much still part of our everyday work. We have years of experience using them, know how to manipulate and adapt them to get the best outcomes. There are newer systems developed all the time, some fit on the inside of the teeth, others are made of ceramic or gold so they don’t show as much but essentially they are a variation on a theme.
So what about the “new” kids on the block – clear aligners. Will they be the future of tooth movement? Are the days of the fixed brace orthodontist numbered?
In the USA, Invisalign is being used more as a front line orthodontic treatment and in some cases used in preference to fixed braces by orthodontists.
I like Invisalign for many reasons – mostly because my patients don’t have as many niggles and emergencies as fixed brace patients do. I get really good results with patients who are compliant and committed to wearing them 22 hours a day. It’s better for treating patients with “open bite” at the front as it stops the back teeth growing down too much (we struggle with fixed braces to do this without extra mechanics). Patients can take them out for a special occasion, playing contact sports, singing, drama, playing instruments etc so it has less impact on their social lives.
What I really like is I can extend the timeframe I can use certain treatment options in teenagers with Invisalign. The traditional way to correct a large overbite would be to use a functional appliance or Twin Block appliance first, followed by fixed braces after.
This functional brace is a chunky acrylic 2 part brace that postures the patients lower jaw forwards and after time will change the bite to achieve the desired position long term. It’s a great way to treat the jaw mismatch (rather than waiting and resorting to surgery), but compliance is really important and we often have a small window of opportunity to achieve the result.
If we don’t get it over and done with by the time they are 12-14 years old it’s usually not going to go well. I am now able to manage these cases using Invisalign with integrated bite correction in much older teenagers (I have a 17 year old happily wearing them) and straighten their teeth at the same time – greater efficiency for me. Of course there are some negatives too, like all brace systems it’s not perfect. It can take time for patients to get use to the change of day to day routine and it can be a faff taking them out every time you eat or drink. The attachments can be annoying and taking the aligners for some patients can be a struggle.[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end]
So will Invisalign take over the world? I think to some extent yes – but not total world domination. If the NHS remains afloat and able to deliver orthodontic treatment to eligible patients then there will always be orthodontists using fixed braces – they cheap, and do the job well. Fixed braces will still be the favoured treatment for many orthodontists so I don’t think we have seen the last of them just yet but market forces may chose the direction of future treatment. power to the patient