Invisalign vs. Smile Direct Club

It’s not uncommon to look in the mirror while you’re getting ready in the morning and find yourself being less than enthused about any crooked teeth you may see reflecting back at you. The desire to have straight teeth and a beautiful smile is shared by a large portion of the American public, as has been shown by a boom in the number of companies offering clear aligner products

The clear aligner industry is essentially dominated by two companies — Invisalign, which was founded in 1997, and Smile Direct Club, established in 2014. Clear aligners can create generally straighter teeth, but they also treat many different smile issues such as gapped teeth, crowding of teeth, open bites and cross bites, and even overbites or underbites. Before you make the decision to get clear aligners, it is important to find out which product is the better option. 

Invisalign Vs. Smile Direct Club

Which brand of aligner is best for you may depend on what problems you’re trying to fix, and how much risk you’re willing to take by handling your own aligners, versus having your treatment overseen by a dental professional. While both Smile Direct Club and Invisalign can handle simple cosmetic straightening cases, Invisalign also has aligner options that can treat more complex dental needs. 

Comparing the two in terms of treatment isn’t quite apples-to-apples as a result. Smile Direct Club promises a treatment time of six months at a typically lower cost than Invisalign, which can take up to 18 months to complete. But the shorter, cheaper option might not be the best one for your oral health and long-term smile improvement. 

Differences in Fitting

While the companies have similar products, the process of getting your fitted clear aligners is completely different between them. If a customer doesn’t live near one of Smile Direct Club’s SmileShops, he or she would have to order the product and have it sent to their home. Then, customers will have to make their own dental impression at home. Sometimes the customer doesn’t have complete success in that process, and the end result is a clear aligner that doesn’t properly fit.

Invisalign takes the at-home human error out of the equation. Your Monterey Peninsula Dental Group dentist will take complete 3D scans of your teeth right in the office. Those scans will result in a complete model of your teeth, which is then processed into a set of correctly-fitting, BPA-free clear aligners. To do this, Invisalign uses an advanced form of 3D printing that actually makes them the largest worldwide user of the technology. 

Invisalign aligners also have the option to use small attachments between your aligners and the teeth in need of straightening, which are placed by your dentist, and allow them to tweak and customize how the aligners are moving your teeth. Smile Direct Club aligners don’t have this feature, which can lead to aligners slipping and improper pressure on the teeth. If you have any existing dental issues, at-home aligners not only might not work to straighten your teeth, but they could do your bite and smile harm. A qualified dentist can use your dental history to individualize your clear aligners and get the most out of the treatment. That’s why we always recommend Invisalign to MPDG patients and carefully help them through the process in our office. 

As for the aligners themselves? Well, there’s not much difference; they are made from similar materials, and the process by which they straighten your teeth is essentially the same. But, there are some key differences in how supervised and personalized your treatment will be, and that can have real effects on the results you get from your aligners. 

Dentist Supervision

The fitting process isn’t the only place Smile Direct Club and Invisalign differ. With Smile Direct Club, you get your aligners mailed to your home and you switch them out as you progress through the treatment plan. Invisalign, however, has a more hands-on approach that involves your dentist helping create an individual care plan with personalized attention to ensure your teeth are properly moving in the right direction. 

The involvement of your dentist is really the largest difference between the two companies and their products. With Smile Direct Club, you have the opportunity to arrange for a phone consultation, but personal attention beyond that is minimal. That leaves the customer to determine if the clear aligner is pushing their teeth too far, or even causing damage in the mouth. 

Invisalign doesn’t leave customers with those kind of worries. The continual involvement of your dentist in your treatment plan means you’ll always have a professional available to regularly check on your progress and give you peace of mind. Get in touch with us to find out more — We work closely with Invisalign as a preferred provider, and recommend their products to our patients who are seeking a straighter, more beautiful smile. 

How Are Invisalign Aligners Made?

If you’re looking at Invisalign as an option for straightening your teeth, you may be wondering just what exactly it is you’d be wearing in your mouth for months to come. 

Invisalign aligners are made individually for each patient based on digital scans taken from their own teeth and bite. The teeth-straightening system works by gradually moving from one set of aligners to another over the course of the treatment, and reshaping your smile along with them. In the same way that traditional metal braces are tightened or adjusted to guide teeth into a new shape, Invisalign aligners will put gradual pressure on your teeth to move them into their new places. 

Sometimes, your dentist may apply small tooth-colored protrusions to your teeth before you begin using Invisalign aligners. These are called SmartForce attachments, and allow your dentist to straighten teeth that are difficult to move or need multiple directions of force to be moved. They attach to the aligners and allow them to exert force more precisely on teeth that might present a more complex problem. The attachments allow Invisalign aligners to do more and help address issues that otherwise might call for metal traditional braces. 

What They’re Made Of

The clear, removable aligners are made from a patented material from Invisalign called SmartTrack. It’s called this because it’s made with small blue indicators that can tell you or your parents whether you’ve been wearing the aligners long enough each day to accomplish your goals. (Invisalign patients usually need to wear the aligners for at least 20 to 22 hours a day to stay on track with their progress.) 

SmartTrack is an extremely durable, BPA-free hard plastic material that is clear, and fits closely to your teeth. These qualities make the aligners near-invisible, which looks more pleasing than metal braces typically do. The material is chosen for comfort while wearing, and to fit your teeth tightly. It is tough, but light and flexible, and capable of gently moving your teeth during treatment.

How Aligners Are Made

The process starts at your MPDG dentist’s office, as he or she will create a custom treatment plan for you. A detailed digital scan is taken of your teeth with a scanner designed specifically for that purpose. That’s used to create a 3D image of your bite and smile. The images allow your dentist to map out a thorough, exact treatment plan that will gradually move your teeth into the desired new shape. At this point, you’ll also know about how long Invisalign treatment will take for your needs — it can be different for each person.

Your aligners are made by Invisalign at a lab, using an advanced 3D printing process. (An interesting fact for you — Invisalign is actually the world’s largest user of this kind of cutting-edge 3D printing.) When they’re ready, they’ll be sent to your dentist, who will then check to make sure they fit correctly. The aligners are trimmed to fit your gumline comfortably, based on the scans of your teeth taken earlier. 

Over the course of your treatment plan, you’ll switch through several sets of aligners. Each set helps you progress toward your end goal of having straight teeth. You can usually expect to move on to the next set of aligners every few weeks, but the timing is an individual process that depends on the condition of your teeth and what problems your dentist is treating with Invisalign. 

Our Invisalign Experience

Monterey Peninsula Dental Group is proud to be an Invisalign Preferred Provider. This means we’ve gone through certification with Invisalign to prove we are well-versed in using the Invisalign system, and have continually and successfully treated many cases with it. In fact, we are a top Invisalign provider for the Monterey Peninsula. It also means our staff is familiar with helping our patients through the billing and insurance process with Invisalign and can answer all your Invisalign questions. Get in touch with us to find out more about whether Invisalign might be right for your dental goals.

Invisalign vs. Braces: Which Is Best For You?

If you have orthodontic issues like gapped teeth, an overbite or underbite, crooked teeth, an open bite and other irregularities in your smile, you may be considering braces or Invisalign to fix them. At Monterey Peninsula Dental Group, we’re a preferred provider for Invisalign in the Monterey Peninsula, with lots of experience helping our patients with Invisalign.

One major difference is that Invisalign can be done through your general dentist’s office, eliminating the need for additional appointments with an orthodontist. Traditional braces need to be put on and maintained with the help of an orthodontist, while Invisalign is easily removable at home for eating and cleaning. This feature also makes Invisalign attractive to many people, because you can eliminate the tricky brushing and flossing needed to keep braces clean and teeth healthy. With Invisalign, you remove the aligner trays and brush and floss normally, then replace the trays.

Treatment times and costs can be quite similar between Invisalign and braces, but both depend on individual patient needs, and how long it will take to address the issues with each patient’s smile. No matter which you choose, it’s important to have well-aligned teeth and a solid bite, which help you eat and talk more effectively. Crooked or misaligned teeth are also at higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease, since they are harder to keep clean.

Why Invisalign?

For many patients, the biggest draw to Invisalign is the improved aesthetic appearance of your smile. It’s made with clear plastic forms called aligners, that fit tightly over your teeth and gradually guide them into the new, desired places. So, unlike braces, when you smile, all that can be seen is the clear aligners over your own teeth, not metal brackets and wires. Patients also typically report less mouth pain with Invisalign, which is a more gentle, and sometimes slower, approach to reshaping your smile. And, patients who play contact sports should be aware that Invisalign is a safer choice than braces, to lower the risk of orthodontic or soft tissue injuries to the mouth from such sports.

Invisalign is an effective orthodontic treatment and has been around for about 20 years now. They’re suitable for both teens and adults, and are customized to each patient. Your MPDG dentist will start by taking digital 3D images of your teeth, then have the aligners made to fit them precisely. Over the course of months, you’ll receive several sets of new aligners, each one getting your teeth a little closer to the final goal. Invisalign aligners are easy to clean and come with an Invisalign cleaning system to help you keep them clean.

Why Braces?

Even with all the benefits and good qualities of Invisalign, there are good reasons why you and your dentist might want to choose braces for you instead. There are some complex orthodontic problems that Invisalign can’t fully address. For instance, if you have persistent bite issues with your back teeth, or if teeth need to be moved vertically or rotated, braces are a more effective choice. Patients with existing bridgework should also not use Invisalign, because the pressure on the teeth can’t be customized to protect the bridgework the way an orthodontist can with braces.

Another consideration, especially for teenagers, is whether they will have the discipline to keep Invisalign aligners in for up to 22 hours a day. Braces can’t be taken out, so you can be sure they are working. However, Invisalign has come up with blue indicators on the aligners so that parents can check and see if their teens are wearing the aligners enough.

Every patient is different, so it’s important to talk with your dentist about which treatment option is the best for you. Whether it’s Invisalign or braces or another option, MPDG is here to help point you in the right direction to solve your dental problems and help you get the smile you want to see.