Posted on August 6th, 2018
Anyone who is actively seeking ways to straighten teeth has probably heard of Invisalign. But as the self-proclaimed market leader in the removable aligners sector, they aren’t the cheapest of orthodontic appliances. So as an alternative, other companies have sought ways that patients can have cheap clear braces. But before we dive into examining the competition so to speak, we really need to clear something up…
The term ‘cheap clear braces’ is often mistakenly used when referring to clear aligners, but in reality they are two different things. Dental braces refer to dental appliances that use a series of fixed brackets and archwires to apply push/pull forces to straighten teeth. Alternatively, clear aligners are transparent, removable plastic trays that are worn over the teeth rather than attached permanently to them. Aligners apply gentle, controlled pressure to move teeth and all of this is achieved without a bracket or archwire. Got it? Good!
So to avoid any confusion, when we talk about ‘cheap clear braces’ in this context, we’re really talking about clear aligners, but the question is… are they really a good alternative to Invisalign?
Before we dive into the ins and outs of inexpensive Invisalign-type aligners, what they offer people is a solution to those wanting to correct ‘toothy’ problems in a less noticeable way, e.g. without the telltale metal smile. Here’s how they work…
We’ve already stated that instead of conventional brackets and wiring, they utilize a series of clear plastic aligners (known as ‘trays’). The aligners themselves are made from a BPA-free plastic which is both lightweight and clear, so when they’re worn over the teeth, they can prove difficult to spot. What’s more, because they’re about as inconspicuous as dental braces for adults can get, they’re also extremely popular.
So now we know what they are, the question is, why do so many people (over 5 million, at last count) choose Invisalign over other affordable clear braces/aligners?
You have to remember that in the beginning, the only removable alternative to braces for teeth was Invisalign. Back in 1997, it was a revolutionary idea that changed the way orthodontic treatments were perceived. Many dentists and orthodontists offer Invisalign because that was the only available clear aligner option for years. Invisalign’s patents started expiring in 2017 so there are now other clear aligner options on the market.
The very fact that Invisalign has grown into such a large company has also been it’s Achilles heel. Because it’s a ‘heavy machine’ there are some suggestions that it can’t innovate as quickly. With the patent expiring, this has led other companies to offer cheaper Invisalign alternatives – many of which appeal to 21st century, price-savvy consumers who are all about finding that mix of value, quality and convenience. So with this in mind, let’s take a closer look at what some of those alternatives can offer.
Do it yourself teeth straightening
Over the past few years, some companies have taken the concept of clear removable aligners and adjusted it to fit in with 21st-century conveniences. Nowadays, companies like Smile Direct Club and Candid offer ‘do it yourself’ (DIY) teeth straightening. Here patients send gummy molds of their teeth to a technician located remotely, who in return, creates a treatment plan. Aligners and retainers are then sent back to wear at home for the duration of the treatment.
While these ‘do it yourself’ style concepts position themselves at a price point considerably lower than companies such as Invisalign, what patients effectively miss is that all important face-to-face time with an orthodontist or dentist who can create a more precise treatment plan, treat more complicated cases, check progress, and spot any problems. As a result, let’s just say that some of these DIY aligners have experienced their fair share of problems and complaints by unhappy customers.
Alternatively, other companies have sprung up as direct competition to the Invisalign concept by offering like for like, cheap invisible braces/aligners alternatives. On the one hand, the technology behind them is largely the same as Invisalign offer. On the other, they don’t have the backing of several decades of proven case reviews and case studies behind them like Invisalign does. As such, for simpler cases, orthodontists may use companies such as these to provide less expensive options for patients seeking cost-effective solutions.
Finally, there are others that offer the best of both worlds. By this we mean the convenience of 24/7 mobile check-ins alongside the traditional orthodontic experience of having one-on-one time with a real-life doctor. While this style of treatment recognizes the importance of orthodontist-led processes, patients also ‘check in’ via a mobile app so it cuts down the need for in-person visits. This makes it both a very convenient but safe option. What’s more, the cost too can be up to 50% less than the market leader. Disclaimer: this is what we do at Uniform Teeth!
So there you have it….As you can see, there are a wide variety of cheap clear braces/aligners out there and they all have their definitive benefits. It’s up to you, however, to do your homework and choose the best treatment option that works for you.