Invisalign uses 3D printing and data from millions of mouths to generate their aligners. For each patient, a 3D image of teeth is taken with an iTero Element scanner. ClinCheck Pro software, which is built on data from 12 million individuals, is used to map tooth shifts. A preview shows the predicted outcome of the treatment. Aligners are printed using SmartTrack material engineered for the Invisalign system.
The company behind Invisalign states that the products have been used by more than 11 million people worldwide. Several patents for Invisalign products expired in 2017, but it is thought that their lead in process development and scale of delivery can keep them competitive.An average Invisalign case entails designing and predicting individual tooth movement from start to finish for the production of ten to fifty custom aligners. The Invisalign Smile Concierge program was launched in January 2017 in the US to help consumers schedule appointments with Invisalign providers in their area. In 2018, the Invisalign First program was launched, and it is aimed toward treating children's teeth as they grow. The ITero 5D Scanner was introduced as a part of the process for getting aligners in 2020 and includes features that can be used on teenagers.
Invisalign products include Invisalign Full, Invisalign Teen, Invisalign Assist, Invisalign Express, and Vivera Retainers. For dentists and orthodontists who wish to become providers, an in-person or online Invisalign Fundamentals course is offered by the company.
Invisalign products can be used to treat the following dental needs:
- Gap teeth
- Open bite
- Crowded teeth
- Baby and permanent teeth
- Generally straighter teeth
Align’s proprietary SmartTrack aligner material, launched commercially in 2013 and patented in 2017, is a multi-layer polymer (aromatic thermoplastic polyurethane/copolyester) that delivers gentle, constant force for tooth movements and conforms precisely to teeth, attachments, and interproximal spaces. SmartForce attachments are small tooth-colored shapes that are placed onto the teeth before and during an Invisalign treatment. The attachments act as handles and help aligners apply the right amount of force in the right direction. Not all Invisalign users will need SmartForce attachments. Align Technology has clinical data which shows that compared with clear aligners made with off-the-shelf single-layer 0.30-inch material, Invisalign aligners with SmartTrack material achieve more than 75 percent improvement in overall tooth movement predictability.
Invisalign is offered in more than one hundred countries, including North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. Prices are determined by the doctor and depend on the treatment plan.
The cost of Invisalign treatment varies from city-to-city and from patient-to-patient. The cost can depend on the reputation and experience of the dentist or clinic and the amount of treatment required. Providers may be cautious about estimating the price until after a full consultation. The cost will be affected by conditions such as prior tooth decay, missing teeth, and how severe the teeth are misaligned. Corrective dental work may be needed before Invisalign braces can be fitted.
Prices are higher for Invisalign treatment in the US, United Kingdom, and Australia. In the US, price ranges are from $3,000-$9,000, and it is not usually covered by medical insurance. In the UK, Invisalign average cost was £1,500-£5,000 ($1,674-$5,581, as of 2022), and the treatment is covered by the NHS only in cases where the health of the patient is significantly compromised by dental problems, but not for aesthetic reasons. In Australia, the average price was between $6000-$9000, and some medical insurance may cover part of the cost.
Invisalign was invented in the 1990s by Stanford University student Zia Chishti while he was undergoing orthodontic treatment and wore a removable retainer. Chishti partnered with Kelsey Wirth, and together they founded Align Technology in 1997. At the time of founding, Chishti had undergraduate degrees in economics and computer science and Wirth had degrees in literature and American History.
Invisalign aligners were initially developed in a Menlo Park, California garage. The early developers had access to a campus lab to develop the computer programming needed for generating the aligner products. In 1998, the Invisalign product was granted FDA approval.
Since the two founders did not have orthodontic credentials or expertise, the Invisalign technology was initially met with resistance from orthodontists. A $31 million TV advertising campaign launched in 2000 helped turn the tides. Orthodontists in the United States were driven by consumer demand to take Invisalign training so they could offer Invisalign as an alternative to traditional braces. In 2001, 75 percent of North American orthodontists had been officially trained to do so.
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and made visits to doctors' offices limited or almost impossible, there was an uptick in sales for Invisalign. The product's parent company pivoted to provide digital orthodontic care during the pandemic, and in 2020, Align Technology had its most profitable year, earning a reported $2.1 billion from Invisalign products.