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I just finished my orthodontic residency program and am headed into practice, and I know quite a bit about this technology, but until yesterday I didn't even know that Align was a publicly traded company (stocks aren't my thing). However, I plan on investing in this company because I know about their product and have used it.
It is true that Invisalign doesn't do everything that braces can do, but it can do a lot more than some might think, and over just the last few months some of the ortho residency programs have been using techniques to increase the scope of Invisalign's applications. When Invisalign first came out, it was believed that it could only treat minor crowding and/or spacing, but recent advances are proving that there are many more orthodontic forces that can be achieved with the clear aligners. By using the aligners along with composite buttons bonded to the teeth (which are invisible to the naked eye), complex movements such as intrusion, extrusion, bodily torque, and even distalization of molars is possible to correct malocclusions that were previously thought beyond the scope of the Invisalign product. What's more, the Invisalign works faster, correcting class II cases in about 1 year and without involving premolar extractions in many of the cases. And when treatment is complete, the last set of aligners serve as a retainer that the patient can wear at night to prevent relapse.
It is true that the patient must be done growing because the aligners are made with the assumption that the underlying skeletal components are constant. Thus, kids are not candidates, and neither are patients with severe skeletal deviations (for example a mandible that is either too small or too large).
Another wonderful advantage of this product is that it allows for easier oral hygiene by the patient (no more decalcification around brackets and swollen gums from not flossing).
The largest potential for this product is with adults who have always wanted to improve their smile and don't want to wear braces, and believe me that is quite a lot of people! I see them every day.
Invisalign won't put orthodontists out of business, but it will become a bigger and bigger part of their practices, especially as more younger docs who have been schooled in the technology are entering the field.
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