For years, anyone seeking an orthodontic solution for crooked teeth had little choice beyond traditional metal braces. It’s not that metal braces were not effective, they were just the best option available for a long time. However, now dental patients young and old have more available options, including the clear custom-fitted Invisalign braces.
Before There Was Invisalign
“Brace face” was the popular nickname given to someone who had a full mouth of metal, dental braces. Anyone who went to their orthodontist and got braces to straighten their teeth and fix their bite before 2005 had very few choices when it came to orthodontic treatment. Before dental technology in regard to braces and straightening teeth evolved, there were generations of kids and adults, that had to get metal braces, with no alternative. Having metal braces is often uncomfortable, painful, and not aesthetically pleasing in any means.
For decades, the only option for someone who wanted and needed to straighten their teeth, was traditional metal wire and bracketed braces. It wasn’t a fast or pain free process, it wasn’t easy, and it certainly wasn’t comfortable. But it did work, and metal braces are still a common option available today. In other words, it’s not that metal braces aren’t effective. They certainly are, and that’s why they’re still used today. Although, the traditional metal braces aren’t the only option for braces anymore.
The New Form of Braces: The History of Invisalign
Anyone who has had traditional metal braces, has experienced that getting your braces removed takes just as long as it did when you get your braces installed. Molds are taken of your teeth, and each wire and bracket, along with the glue on your teeth, needs to be removed.
In 1997, Stanford students Zia Chishti was at the orthodontist getting his braces removed. After removal, his orthodontist gave him a plastic retainer. A retainer is a device which is given to people after the removal of their braces, to continue keeping the teeth straight and from moving. At this time, they were still the old-school retainers with a plastic piece that sits against the roof of your mouth and metal wires looped around the teeth to keep them properly aligned. When Zia received his retainer, he realized that a retainer like his might be just as effective at moving the teeth to straighten them as a set of traditional metal braces (like the ones he just had removed).
Struggling with this retainer after getting his braces removed, he thought to himself about how he could possibly develop a better, quicker, and less painful way to get straighter teeth, like this retainer, as another form of dental alignment technology.
With no orthodontic training, Zia Chishti took full advantage of his epiphany, and returned to Stanford to discuss his idea with another Stanford student named Kelsey Wirth. In San Jose, California, the two decided to become partners and team up to make their invention a reality. They started looking for people to bring their invention to life, and found developers on campus, Apostolos Lerios and Brian Freyburger. The Align Technology product was born, and was started to be developed in a garage in Menlo Park, CA. Invested by Kleiner Perkins Caufield. While not your typical Silicon Valley startup, like when Apple was created by Steve Jobs, this was a groundbreaking beginning in its own way.
Developers Freyburger and Lerios took care of the computer graphics part of the company. Intensive research in computer-aided design (CAD) modeling, along with geometry and 3D printing technology, was necessary in helping them learn how to create a replica, and mimic a solid, physical object – in this case, developing the unique aligners. Ultimately, they were able to achieve and perfect this necessary programming to make the actual prototype of the align retainer, thanks to access granted to a lab on Stanford’s campus. After a massive TV campaign was launched, the product was in high demand, driving orthodontists to adopt this treatment option in their practices.
Brace face no longer, because in 1998, the FDA approved Align Technology, becoming Invisalign. Now, this technology has been changing the way dentists have straightened people’s teeth ever since. Cue Invisalign, the more discreet, “invisible” form of braces.
If your dentist has approved that you are in need of braces, Invisalign has been the choice, as they are a discreet and painless alternative to the traditional chunky braces. Invisalign braces uses clear, plastic trays or aligners that act as a retainer, either for the top or bottom set of teeth. These trays are molded and customized to fit over your teeth instead of metal brackets and wires.
This alternative technology and method to traditional braces, has changed the face of orthodontics. Zia Chishti, along with his partners, created a product that has drastically changed how people can achieve straighter teeth and a wonderful smile.
Choosing the Right Dentist for Invisalign
One of the questions dentists hear over and over from patients, is whether or not they’re a good candidate for Invisalign. At Hagerman Dental Care, Dr. Hagerman will take X-rays, pictures, and impression molds of your teeth. This information will also be used to create digital 3D images and map out the exact movements of your teeth, in order for the aligner trays to be able to correct and straighten your teeth. Based on all the molds and tests, Dr. Hagerman will create a detailed treatment plan, and if you are a candidate for Invisalign, a set of aligners will be customized just for you, to give you the smile you have always wanted.
Choosing the right dentist who has the experience you need to achieve beautiful and straight teeth can be hard to find. Dr. Hagerman will always consult with you, go over all your options, and determine the right treatment plan for you. To find out if you are a candidate for Invisalign, call Hagerman Dental Care at (651) 646-2392 or use our online form to request an appointment.