Orthodontic innovations present options

Scott Nord examines a patient’s teeth at his practice in Orem. (Nord Orthodontics)

Orthodontics professionals constantly seek new, innovative ways to correct their clients’ teeth. Invisalign aligners, an approach to smile correction that is less invasive than traditional metal braces, has become a popular choice for many in recent years, according to Align Technology, the maker of Invisalign.

Invisalign uses a custom-fit plastic tray to correct crooked teeth. A new tray is introduced every month or so to keep aligning the teeth to the desired placement. This type of smile correction avoids the use of any metal or ceramic braces.

Orthodontist Scott Nord of Nord Orthodontics researched Invisalign aligners for his master’s thesis.

“Invisalign has added a great option for patients who desire an aesthetic alternative to braces,” Nord said. “As they have improved the technology, we can do so much more with Invisalign than we used to be able to do.”

The New York Times recently published an article stating more and more teenagers are starting to choose Invisalign aligners over metal braces. Align Technology reports covering 2013 to 2017 show sales to teenagers increased from approximately 100,000 to over 235,000.

Nord said there are benefits to both Invisalign aligners and traditional braces, depending on what a patient wants or needs. He said metal braces are more effective for complex teeth issues and are permanently attached for the duration of smile correction.

Nord added there can be benefits to Invisalign aligners and similar options. He said Invisalign aligners are not as noticeable, and clients might choose them over traditional metal braces for aesthetic reasons.

“Aligners are changed every 7-14 days so they are a series of smaller adjustments versus braces which have larger adjustments which last about six weeks, so they are more comfortable as far as less tooth pain,” Nord said.

Nord said Invisalign aligners struggle to move teeth vertically when compared to traditional metal braces. He said it is hard for patients to have discipline to keep the trays in for at least 22 hours a day.

Nord said he has seen Invisalign grow quite a bit over the past few years. He said he has seen it be most popular with teenagers who start treatment later in junior high or high school. He said most of their friends have already had braces, and these teenagers often do not want braces in high school.

“Surprisingly, many of the younger patients who are candidates for Invisalign to whom we offer it opt for braces. Kids want to show off their braces and pick colors,” Nord said.

Depending on insurance, an Invisalign aligner solution can cost anywhere from $2,000-$5,000, according to Invisalign’s website. According to CostHelper, the average cost of metal braces in the U.S. is around $5,000.

Destinee Rhoades has had braces three times in her lifetime. She recently got her braces off. The third time around she chose traditional metal braces.

“I went into the orthodontist’s office open to any and all options for smile correction,” Rhoades said. “I was actually given three options: Invisalign, traditional metal braces and ceramic brackets. I went with the ceramic brackets, as the Invisalign option was a lot more expensive.”

Rhoades said she had heard about Invisalign aligners but her insurance covered more of the cost of traditional braces, which factored into her decision to go with ceramic braces.

Rachel Halversen said she found success using Invisalign aligners, and she is thinking about using them again after one tooth shifted out of place again. She was introduced to Invisalign aligners through her orthodontist, who actually used the top tray as a retainer after she had her braces removed.

“I liked Invisalign the first time that I had it because you couldn’t quite tell that there was anything in your mouth other than a slight lisp,” Halverson said. “I also like how it’s a process with different trays each time because tightening braces really hurt nearly every time.

Halversen said she did not wear her retainer consistently enough and her teeth have once again shifted which is why she is now considering Invisalign aligners as her option for smile correction.

“I know Invisalign would work quickly for me,” Halversen said. “I only have one slightly crooked tooth, and it would only take three or four trays to get everything all straightened up. Plus, I wouldn’t have to be a metal-mouth again.”

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