We are proud to have been early-adopters of the orthodontic digital revolution. 3D printed clear aligners are a recent development in orthodontic care which has opened the door for discreet orthodontic treatment for esthetically-minded patients.
3D printed clear aligners are commonly known under the brand name “Invisalign.” Printed clear aligners are clear, thin, comfortable, and safe plastic aligners that fit over your teeth. Using your 3D printed molds, the orthodontist uses digital modeling to digitally align your teeth in a sequential order. A series of aligners is then made, with each aligner moving your teeth ever so slightly per aligner. By the end of the clear aligner series, your teeth will be aligned and your bite will have improved.
When made in the orthodontic office, clear aligners depend on a 4-step fabrication process:
- Digital Scanning
- Digital treatment planning
- 3D printing
- Clear aligner fabrication
If you are an adult who had braces as a child, you may remember having “goopy” molds taken. These molds were called alginate impressions and chances are, they were not the most enjoyable part of your orthodontic experience.
In a nutshell, 3D digital scanners do exactly what molds did, but without the “goop,” bad taste, gagging, mess, and the anxiety many patients experience with molds. In fact, scanners do everything better than “goopy” molds:
- 3D Scans are more accurate and less prone to errors
- We can 3D print molds over and over again without having to rescan your teeth
- No gagging
- Not anxiety provoking
- Not messy or bad tasting
3D digital scans offer a more accurate impression of your teeth and an overall more pleasant experience.
Digital Treatment Planning
Once our team has taken digital molds of your teeth, our orthodontists can begin planning your treatment digitally. The 3D molds allow for each tooth to be manipulated in all three planes of space. This in-house process allows us to control every variable involved in your care to ensure that treatment is simultaneously predictable, efficient, and evidence-based. Through this process, we are able to achieve straight teeth as well as a functional and stable bite.
3D printers are the third piece to the orthodontic puzzle. A scanner will create 3D digital models of your teeth. 3D printers turn digital molds into solid molds made of a resin material.
3D printers and printed models have many advantages and play a significant role in your orthodontic care:
Printed molds can be used to make retainers on the same day you get your braces off. It used to be that patients would have to come back several days later to pick up their retainers. With 3D printing, we can now make your retainers on the same day, check its fit in your mouth, and send you on your way!
Printed molds are more accurate than goopy molds. This means that your retainers or clear aligners will have a better and more reliable fit to your teeth. They will be perfectly customized to your mouth, down to a few hundred micrometers.
Printed molds allow for faster turnaround. If you lose your retainers or clear aligners mid-treatment, we can print your molds and give them to you on the same day. This is not the case when working with an outsourced company like Invisalign. An outside company like Invisalign requires that our office send your digital models so that the aligners can be made and sent back to the office. This can take weeks at times and delay your treatment
Printed molds allow us to make our own clear aligners. By controlling every step of the process, you don’t have to wait weeks to get your clear aligners. It also means we know everything about the materials used in our aligners and retainers. This increases overall safety and offers peace of mind.
Printed molds reduce your overall retainer cost. Because printers have made it so convenient to make retainers, we have instituted a lifetime retainer policy*. This makes it considerably cheaper for you to get your retainers replaced in the event of wear and breakage. We’re happy to provide more information on this policy during your free initial examination.
3D Printed Clear Aligners
Once your teeth have been scanned, digitally treatment planned, and a resin mold has been printed, we are now ready to make your clear aligners.
Your clear aligners are made of state-of-the-art transparent plastic material which is heated and molded onto your sequential printed tooth models. Our team produces these plastic aligners right here in the office and refine them so that they are comfortable and deliver a perfect fit.