How Invisalign Aligners Are Made
If you’re considering getting orthodontic treatment with Invisalign plastic trays instead of standard braces, you may be wondering how Invisalign aligners are made.
The Invisalign teeth straightening system is very different from that of traditional braces, and so is the process of making your aligners.
Fixed braces are bonded to your teeth but Invisalign appliances are removable, and you wear a series of different aligners throughout your treatment.
Another big difference is that Invisalign appliances are – as the name suggests – virtually invisible, made from medical-grade transparent polyurethane resin.
Invisalign was launched in 1998 by U.S.-based multinational medical device outfit Align Technology. Following Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, Invisalign began to transform U.S. orthodontic treatment the following year.
Since then, the company has been constantly improving how Invisalign aligners are made in its highly automated and technologically advanced fabrication process.
Your aligners will be produced with industry-leading technology based on your personalized orthodontic treatment plan.
Invisalign aligners are made with a combination of:
- Virtual modeling software.
- Fast manufacturing processes.
- Mass customization.
- Patented aligner material.
Align Technology also goes hi-tech with the way impressions are taken for the aligner manufacturing process – capturing a 3D image of your teeth with a special scanner.
Digital Scanning – the Start of the Invisalign Customization Process
Invisalign trays are customized for each patient, so making an accurate mold of your mouth is essential ahead of the fabrication of your aligners.
A 3D representation of your teeth can be created by your orthodontist in just minutes, using Align Technology’s state-of-the-art chairside iTero digital scanner, capable of taking 6,000 high-resolution images a second.
This process avoids the need for old-style gloopy impressions that cause some patients to gag, and the Invisalign Outcome Simulator allows you to see your new smile before your aligners are even made.
Your intra-oral scans are then converted into digital files, which enables Align Technology to make your aligners quickly and to precise specifications.
The Cutting-Edge Tech Behind Your Invisalign Aligners
After the digital scanning process, your Invisalign aligners will be made by 3D printers in what is said to be the world’s largest, most advanced mass customization process of its kind.
3D printing has been around since the early 1980s but is now much more mainstream in medical fields, including orthodontics.
Align Technology is a leading pioneer of 3D printing in dentistry – and in material science for medical devices in general – and it continually refines how Invisalign aligners are made.
The aligners are fabricated from a biocompatible thermoplastic specifically developed for the Invisalign system, and each one is unique to the patient.
Technicians move the teeth in the computer model step by step to their final positions. This is done in collaboration with your orthodontist, who will also consult you about exactly how you would like your teeth to look after treatment.
This high level of customization for each patient – and their teeth – means Invisalign can be used to treat both simple and complex orthodontic problems.
Everyone’s gum line is different, so your aligners will be individually trimmed, resulting in a better fit and appearance, and each stage of the fabrication process goes through quality-control processes to make sure your aligners are perfect.
Align Technology says the way Invisalign aligners are made can result in treatment times up to 50 per cent faster than conventional braces and corrects crooked teeth with 75 per cent more predictability.
Smart Features of Invisalign Aligners
Invisalign aligners incorporate three “smart” technology features:
- SmartTrack – a material developed by Align Technology over eight years to straighten teeth more effectively. SmartTrack reduces discomfort by ensuring a snug, precise fit with enhanced elasticity to lessen pressure on your teeth. It also makes it easy to put your aligner in and take it out.
- SmartForce – attachments and other features that are built into the aligners. SmartForce applies the precise force needed to achieve more predictable tooth movements.
- SmartStaging – technology that programs each tooth movement in a certain sequence and at the optimum time to achieve the best results.
How Invisalign Aligners Move Your Teeth
Your Invisalign aligners will be made from flexible plastic with smooth edges that make them more comfortable to wear than conventional braces.
Invisalign moves teeth gradually and gently in a series of precisely timed and regulated movements, and only certain teeth are repositioned during each stage. Treatment is typically completed in about 12 months.
Invisalign aligners are designed to reposition your teeth to fix multiple orthodontic issues, including:
- Crooked teeth.
- Crowded teeth.
- Gapped teeth.
- Open bite.
Benefits of Invisalign aligners
The way Invisalign aligners are made means it’s easier to get on with your life, compared with having to wear braces 24/7, and they’re the most popular removable dental appliance.
Unlike the wires and brackets of standard braces, removable Invisalign trays make it simpler to brush and floss your teeth, which reduces the risk of tooth decay and gum infections.
A further benefit of the removability of Invisalign aligners is that you can eat whatever you want, and you can pop them out to take part in sports and similar activities.
Other advantages of how Invisalign aligners are made include:
- Discreet look – your aligners will be barely visible, if at all.
- Comfort – the soft plastic won’t irritate your mouth.
- Teeth protection – your aligners can work like a thin mouthguard to help avoid excessive wear on your teeth if you tend to grind your teeth.
- Convenience – fewer dental appointments compared with traditional braces.
An Orthodontic Solution for All Ages
Invisalign is the world’s most advanced clear aligner system and is both innovative and unique.
The innovation comes from continual efforts to introduce new technologies in how Invisalign aligners are made. The aligners are unique because they use mass customization in a way never imagined before in the dental technology industry.