What Kleenex & Invisali(g)n-e have in common?

Differences between Invisalign and clear aligners

If you’ve stepped into an orthodontist’s office, or visited their website, in the last few years you’re probably quite aware that clear aligners are a very popular treatment option. In fact, there’s a section on the Porth website dedicated to providing information about this alternative to conventional metal braces. If you’re looking for information about aligners, click here and dig in to get a start.

So, now that you’ve read that you’re an expert on clear aligners. Congrats! This post is here to help provide some clarity about the types, or rather, the brands of clear aligners. A lot can get lost in terminology, treatment jargon, and even trademarks and branding. It is always our goal to have our patients, and the public, be well informed about orthodontic health and their treatment options.

When we say clear aligner therapy, or CAT for the sake of simplicity, we are talking about the use of clear plastic trays that patients wear (almost) around the clock to slowly but surely move their teeth into correct alignment. So what you’re probably thinking now is “do you mean Invisalign? Why aren’t you just saying Invisalign?” Yes, we do mean Invisalign. Sort of. Invisalign is a product name that is manufactured by Align Technology. So is Clear Correct, as well as MTM and other clear aligners. These are all examples of brands of CAT, in the way that Ford, Toyota and BMW are brands of cars.

If this is the first time you’ve heard the term CAT, you are certainly not alone. It seems that Invisalign is the most common way to refer to any type of clear aligners, much like we always say Kleenex when what we mean is tissue. When a brand name is used to refer to whole category of products is called a generic trademark and there’s a whole Wikipedia page page about it! Sure, we know that no one tells their kids to use a cotton swab to clean their ears after the shower, we say q-tip. But that’s become the shorthand term, just like Invisalign has become synonymous with CAT, and why people come to Porth (and other ortho clinics) saying that they’d like to get Invisalign to straighten their teeth.

Here at Personalized Orthodontics in Sammamish, we happily provide Invisalign to our patients when it is appropriate from a clinical perspective. In fact, I have extensively studied the appliance and published my findings in the highest ranked peer-reviewer journal in the field of orthodontics. It is also really important to us that you know about your other options, including in-house aligners. We have the equipment at our clinic to create the aligners in our lab and provide them directly to you. The initial stages of the workflow are the same as if I sent the case to a third party company, such as Invisalign or Clear Correct; a scan of your mouth is taken at our clinic and then I digitally moves your teeth into the ideal position. The difference with in-house aligners is that instead of sending the digital photos and your case information to a company, I makes the aligners myself. The advantage to you as a patient is that the product is delivered faster and the cost is optimized. We are not paying a company to fabricate the aligners, we are only paying for materials. And, I make them on our 3D printer, which is just cool.

As a patient at Porth, you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to your treatment plan. From the consultation to the retainer program, you have choices and options and we will talk you through each and every one throughout the process.

As a patient at Porth, you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to your treatment plan. From the consultation to the retainer program, you have choices and options and we will talk you through each and every one throughout the process.

If you choose CAT, it is important to us that you have all the options available to you. There is certainly something to be said for the trusted name of Invisalign. However, there are advantages to “shopping local” too. For example, in-house aligners allow us to have complete control over adjusting the treatment based on the patient’s biological response to tooth movement. We can mix and match various appliances and arrive at a hybrid plan if that makes the most sense.If a tray is lost, it takes just one or two days to produce a new one for you, and we don’t charge you extra for that! Having tray production local also keeps the treatment plan on track and helps avoid losing time and dealing with the discomfort of additional movement of the teeth.

As a final note, it goes without saying that we do not endorse the products on the market designed to help you straighten your teeth at home without oversight from a dental professional.

This is dangerous on several levels and we discourage you from pursuing this option. The potential for damage to your teeth and bite is significant, potentially causing issues that are worse than the ones you want to fix at the beginning. And please, don’t even consider DIY orthodontics! This 2015 news story addresses the issue, watch for the cameo.

You also have direct access to me, the clear aligners aficionado, to ask your questions. Feel free to reach me at [email protected] or text me your question to 617-466-9090.

Disclaimer: This blog post providers information and merely reflects Dr. Rooz Khosravi’s expert opinion. You should consult with a dentist or an orthodontist prior to following any advice suggested here.

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