Getting Transparent About Invisible Braces


Clear aligner technology – meaning transparent, plastic dental braces – exploded onto the orthodontic scene in the early 2000s when California-based medical-device company Align Technology poured millions of dollars into television ads for their product Invisalign. Consumer interest skyrocketed for this “invisible” replacement to traditional metal braces. And, by 2001, it was reported that three quarters of orthodontists in the United States and Canada had received training on the Invisalign system.

Since then, the industry for clear aligners has only gotten larger and more prevalent. Invisalign is still a big player, boasting that their technology has been used to treat over three million patients. But, as of 2017, there are more than 27 different clear-align products available from sources like ClearConnect and CA Clear Aligner.

With all these removable, transparent options on the market, why would anyone opt to use traditional fixed braces?

“There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to fixed versus removable braces,” says Dr. Rebecca Hayden of Hayden Family Dental. “It is often case-dependent and varies greatly with the type of tooth movement needed.”

A 2014 article in the New York State Dental Journal, titled “Invisalign: Current Guidelines for Effective Treatment,” states that Invisalign has been proven to predictably resolve moderate crowding of the front teeth. But many studies note Invisalign’s poorer treatment outcomes for issues with pre-molars and molars, large rotational movements, and tooth extrusion. In these cases, traditional fixed braces tend to achieve better results.

Dr. Hayden is concerned with some of the newer clear-align start-ups appearing on the market which provide a service that many believe crosses a line between supervised and unsupervised tooth movement. Services like SmileDirectClub – a direct-to-consumer teeth aligning start-up – are popping up and offering to ship invisible aligners to patients whose progress is remotely monitored by dental or orthodontic professionals. For this service, patients either take a mold of their own teeth or go to one of the companies’ “SmileShops” to get a mold created.

The American Association of Orthodontists has asserted in multiple filed complaints that SmileDirectClub violates the law because allowing patients to skip in-person exams and X-rays is “illegal and creates medical risks.”

“It is not uncommon for people to have periodontal disease or decay that may be present without them feeling any pain,” Dr. Hayden said. “And, many times moving the teeth into a certain position is only a fraction of what is aesthetically at play in the mouth.”

At her office, Dr. Hayden offers a complimentary consultation to discuss Invisalign versus traditional orthodontics, and to help create a treatment plan that fits each patient’s aesthetic goals.

For more information, visit or call 513.791.4500.