A recent poll from the American Dental Association reports that the past year has given rise to a 59-percent increase in teeth grinding and clenching, a 53-percent increase in chipped teeth and a 53-percent increase in jaw pain, all of which can cause the teeth to shift. Regardless of the cause, New York cosmetic dentist Jason Kasarsky, DDS says there is no question that COVID has increased awareness around orthodontic aesthetics. “In our practice, patients have been asking about orthodontic treatments due to one main reason: Zoom is highlighting all of their insecurities. This uptick has been on the rise since November.”
With so many options in the teeth-straightening realm, Chevy Chase, MD cosmetic dentist Claudia C. Cotca, DDS says that braces are no longer high up on people’s wish lists like they were years back. “To date, braces with wires remain the most effective at controlling the end results with less maintenance over time,” she says. “However, adult patients are currently opting for invisible correction like Invisalign over the more visible treatments.” Wellington, FL cosmetic dentist Sam. S Sadati, DDS has also noticed this trend: “In general, most of my patients, due to the fact that they are adults, prefer to use clear aligners rather than actual brackets and wires.”
In Dr. Kasarsky’s practice, he’s also seen a lot of his 50-plus patients come in requesting Invisalign. “Recently, due to the vaccine, we’re now seeing patients of all ages coming in and not only asking for this treatment, but for whitening and veneers, too. I’ve been directing a lot of them to clear aligners because it solves their requests from all over the board—when they’re done with their treatment, they’re surprised to see that they no longer want whitening or veneers.”
Other than Invisalign, there are a number of other unnoticeable forms of teeth straightening that are taking over today’s market. A new device that just recently hit, InBrace, is the newest player to the invisible treatment game. According to the brand, “It’s a customizable wire that sits directly behind the teeth to straighten the smile—no trays required.” The device, which, to put it simply, is a skinny metal wire that sits behind the teeth, is invisible to others and gently moves the teeth over time thanks to its their friction-free patented Gentleforce technology. “Adult patients always think they’re too old for removing a plastic aligner on a date or out in public, so being able to have a completely hidden treatment like InBrace has brought them so much confidence,” says Baltimore orthodontist Amanda Gallagher Whetzel, DMD.
“There’s also a company called Tréz, another clear aligner brand,” Dr. Kasarsky explains. “Invisalign trays come with the teeth-colored attachments so the aligners don’t move. Tréz doesn’t have any of those attachments because they have increased the size of the aligner to now cover the gum, as opposed to Invasalign, which doesn’t cover the gum tissue.”
Dr. Kasarsky adds that the direct-to-consumer niche is booming, a service where people can take an impression of their teeth and send it to a company to create aligners for you. Other players in the do-it-from-home game: the orthodontist-directed Byte, which claims to straighten the teeth “in up to half the time of most other options out there” and comes with an in-tray whitening system and retainers to reduce nighttime wear and tear; Candid, a safety-first brand that connects each patient with an orthodontist to monitor every step of treatment and puts “bone biology” in front of speed; and Smile Direct Club, which stands out due to their $89 per month price point, which is 60-percent lower than Invisalign.
These methods of treatment are appealing due to their ease, but Dr. Kasarsky has his worries. “I’m not an advocate of these home systems because around 20 percent of patients need to go back into a dentist’s office to finish the job or correct what those trays have moved.”
While Dr. Cotca believes in the effectiveness of clear aligners, she urges patients to look at their wide range of options wisely. “When patients choose the right orthodontic option for them, the aesthetics will fall into place naturally.” But, Dr. Kasarsky adds that there’s a reason why people are jumping straight to invisible forms of straightening: “My patients say, ‘If I’m wearing the aligners and I have to wear them 22 hours a day, I can walk around and shop with my mask, so I have no problem wearing them. If I’m home, I can keep the aligners in because I’m only around my family.’ Wearing any type of clear aligners these days works very well, especially for older adults.”