Orthodontic procedures have always brought in big business.
The market is worth over $3 billion in the U.S. alone. Fortune Business Insights expects to see annual double-digit growth through at least 2029.
What’s changed is the technology. Advancements in 3D printing and digital teeth straightening treatments are better solutions these days.
Especially for adults, when comparing comfortability and aesthetics against traditional braces.
While veneers and composite bonding are among the variety of options, one of the fastest-growing sectors for orthodontic procedures is clear aligners.
The profitability stake in clear aligners is huge. Invisalign, for example, has 70-75% gross profit margins. Others aren’t far behind.
COVID-19 only accelerated the trend towards cosmetic enhancements, like improving one’s smile – and it also brought in many new players looking to cash in.
A few of these players could be sacrificing quality for the sake of revenue and profits.
Here’s what to look out for.
Everyone Wants to Be the Next Invisalign
In 2020, Invisalign was gaining traction to become the #1 trusted source for clear aligner therapy.
Over time, the company began to maintain a competitive edge, due to its all-star branding and patented Align Technology system. Fast forward a mere 24 months and Align Technology is met with other neighbors in the marketplace.
The biggest key players are: Envista Holding Corporation, Institut Straumann AG, Dentsply Sirona, 3M Corporation, Henry Schein, Inc., and TP Orthodontics, Inc.
Although some of the above names might not ring a bell, they help mass produce products for other internationally recognized clear aligner companies – i.e. Byte, ClearCorrect, and SureSmile.
The ambitions of newer clear aligner companies are noble.
People want an affordable clear aligner service. But certain companies are falling short on the right technology, customer support, and their overall teeth straightening results.
Nevertheless, a push-pull effect comes into play.
Think Carefully Before Trying An At-Home Teeth Straightening Treatment
A number of companies are positioning themselves to be on trend, at-home (DIY) clear aligner providers.
Meaning everything is done remotely without seeing a board-certified professional in person. This includes:
- An at-home examination,
- Approval of a digital mock-up,
- And progress tracking.
Children under 18 need parental signoff, which is still cause for concern. The risks and limitations just aren’t communicated clearly.
Patients often feel ignored and are left to their own devices if they don’t speak up during a “30-day money back promise” window.
The Journal of the American Dental Association reported that roughly 7% of at-home clear aligner patients met with their general dentist after experiencing aligner-related side effects.
Convenience Comes With An Unwanted Cost
DIY clear aligners are a popular choice because there’s little hand holding, at a lower price point. Candidates can save as much as $4,000 with at-home aligners versus doctor-directed plans, like Invisalign or Spark.
Yet, you get what you pay for. The cost to repair any damage from an at-home clear aligner treatment could perhaps exceed the full out-of-pocket expense for a doctor-directed plan.
Why? Claims, safety measures, and guidance are up to your own interpretation.
In 2017, the American Dental Association (ADA) passed a resolution against DIY teeth straightening, warning against unsupervised dental treatments.
Two years later, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) filed legal complaints with 36 state dental boards against a single DIY provider.
Social Media Leads To A Tangled Web Of Misinformation
If you spend a few minutes scrolling on your Facebook, Instagram or TikTok news feed, you may find that teeth straightening is a common theme within the sponsored content posts.
Only makes sense that 73% of clear aligner patients gather their own insights about clear aligners with the assistance of their social network and social media advertising – not from a doctor, professional group or office marketing.
Before and after picture galleries aren’t the only type of testimonials that ought to be taken into account. A 2021 journal also revealed how the information on websites selling at-home clear aligners rarely gets updated and there’s little to no regulation from outside parties.
If possible, connect with past patients who are active on Quora or Reddit threads and ask them to openly share their feedback.
It’s necessary to understand that teeth straightening and alignment corrections can’t be regarded as a one-size-fits-all approach. Treatment duration times and outcomes can deviate, despite the course of action that was recommended.
When making a purchasing decision about your smile on social media, take the extra time to research each company and read honest reviews on what others are saying about their first-hand experiences.
Seeking a second opinion can also be beneficial if you’re feeling uncertain about moving forward with an at-home teeth straightening plan. In fact, most cosmetic dentists and orthodontists offer complimentary consultations for clear aligners and traditional metal braces.
Check to see who’s local in your area, lay out all of your questions, and take notes while you narrow down your top choices.
About the Author – Dana Goldberg, a health and wellness professional, is the founder & CEO of NutrishMe. Her Well+Aligned program provides beneficial information to the clear aligner community and those who would like to learn more about cutting-edge orthodontic and cosmetic dental developments.