Appliance economics: Yes we can!

Sept. 1, 2009
“Can't you just straighten these lower front teeth?”“Can't you just make me look better … without making me wear braces for TWO YEARS?”

by Rob Veiw, DDS

For more on this topic, go to and search using the following key words: intraoral appliance, Invisalign, braces, orthodontic alignment, Dr. Rob Veis.

“Can't you just straighten these lower front teeth?”
“Can't you just make me look better … without making me wear braces for TWO YEARS?”

Since the beginnings of modern dentistry, patients have come to dental professionals with the desire to have their teeth straightened.

When the patient is a child, the solution is usually relatively simple: minor tooth movement appliances or braces.For adults, it's not so simple. Most adults — for all the obvious social, psychological, and professional reasons — simply don't want to wear braces to straighten their teeth.

Traditional orthodontics requires a treatment commitment of one to two years and a financial commitment of anywhere from $3,500 to $8,000. When it's for your kids, you make the sacrifice. For yourself, it's a different story.

Of course, once the brave few do elect to take the leap of faith (and finance) to braces, it's seldom as horrible as anticipated … and they're usually pretty happy with the results. But if there had been an alternative, they would likely have jumped at the chance to explore it.

So the question remains, “Can't you just straighten my teeth some other way that doesn't take so long and cost so much?” The answer now, of course, is, “Yes we can.” Today we have a multitude of choices and options with which to accomplish virtually anything.

So why not do it? If you can offer an alternative to the traditional approach — and still improve the patient's periodontal condition, occlusal scheme, and esthetics in the bargain — why not give your patients what they want?

Enter Invisalign

Invisalign — a series of retainers that slowly move teeth — has been a boon to the orthodontic marketplace. It has afforded adults who would not wear braces the opportunity to straighten their teeth, get the desired esthetic result, and (in most cases) an acceptable functional result.

As good as it is — and it is ideal for Class I minor crowding cases — Invisalign does have its limitations. Invisalign has worked so well that the Invisalign people — those using it as well as selling it — have tried to expand its application for use in every case.

In my opinion, it's just not working. And the bottom line is that Invisalign is just too expensive for most people (as much as $6,000 per series).

The PowerProx alternative

The Six–Month Brace, or PowerProx technique, allows adults (in select cases) to get an esthetic result using braces and interproximal recontouring, but speeds up the process to allow the patient to achieve an esthetic result within a six–month time period. The cost is significantly less — $3,000 to $4,000. The stumbling block? A huge percentage of the population is still not willing to invest six full appliance–wearing months in pursuit of straight teeth.

The Inman Aligner

One of the truly great advances of the last few years is the Inman Aligner. This appliance embraces the concept of proximal recontouring, but also brings to the mix a new overall design and new coilspring technologies. Ideal for mild to moderate crowding in the anterior region (upper and lower arch), the Inman Aligner is fast, inexpensive (average cost is $1,200 to $1,500), and esthetically preferable because it can actually be removed for brief periods of time to accommodate pressing social demands. Also, it's so sleek that most patients can wear it through the day without any speech interference.

All things considered

When considering the problem of crowded or crooked teeth in adults, the list of viable solutions is a generous one. The proper choice — from full orthodontic therapy to six– month brace techniques to Inman Aligner — must be carefully assessed, determined, and evaluated based upon clear, detailed orthodontic records and a proper diagnosis, as well as full awareness of individual patient needs and wants.

Offering an alignment technique solution — regardless of company or model — is a great way to bring patients into the office. Why? Because you're giving them what they want.

For more information on the Inman Aligner, Invisalign, or other orthodontic alignment solutions, call (800) 423–3270 or visit

Dr. Rob Veis is chief executive officer of The Appliance Therapy Group® (ATG), comprised of Space Maintainers, Inc.®, Success Essentials®, Second Opinion®, The Smile Foundation®, and The Appliance Therapy Practitioners Association®. For more information, visit or call (800) 423–3270.

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