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 Invisalign vs. Generic Aligners

Now that do-it-yourself aligners are available, you may wonder if giving them a try is a good idea. Let’s look at some of the differences between Invisalign®  versus other at-home aligner systems available. Looking at just one difference, the information input: 

We all know that a computer-generated product can only be as good as the information that it is given.For all our Invisalign patients we complete a thorough exam including a full set of x-rays to ensure you are a good candidate for orthodontic aligner treatment. If so, we review your custom smile goals, then take a computer scan of your teeth and bite using the 3D iTero Element® scanner. This is the fastest, most accurate scanner from Align technologies, which has been proven to produce superior fitting aligners than those made from a  physical impression. We take multiple photos of your bite, smile and face from specified angles, note how tight the contacts are between teeth, and the current bite contacts of your teeth. We then send all this information to Invisalign along with a custom prescription detailing our objectives.

Invisalign’s software engineers then develop your smile design which Dr. Kuhl then reviews and fine tunes the movements for optimal results. The patient then gets to see a video showing how and why we are going to achieve their ideal smile.

With Generic Aligners, input varies, but may be as little as taking selfies and then taking an impression of your own teeth, using a putty type impression material supplied by the manufacturer. This is then sent to the company who designs and manufactures the aligners. Without a comprehensive in-person exam, there is no way to ensure you are a good candidate for orthodontics. In many cases aligner treatment could be ineffective or actually cause harm to your oral  health.

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Aligner Material

Invisalign: Your Invisalign aligners will be tailored to fit your teeth precisely using the 3D scan and 3D printing. They are made from SmartTrack® material, a product specifically engineered for a perfect, comfortable fit. Aligners are manufactured using special plastic patented by Invisalign that applies pressure gradually over a 7 day period, at which time the next aligner is inserted. The aligners also come trimmed to fit your gum line to prevent any gum irritation.

Generic Aligners: Materials vary, but most are static plastics that cannot measure up to the comfort and persistence in pressure of Invisalign’s Smart Track material. These aligners move teeth in the first 24-48 hours then hold the teeth their until it is time to change to the next aligner.

Aligner Delivery and Progress Monitoring

 Invisalign: When we deliver your aligners we use a template to place temporary bondings, called “custom attachments”, to certain teeth. These attachments allow a much greater range of complicated tooth movements than mere tipping of teeth. They are  small and tooth-colored to remain  virtually unnoticeable, and are polished off at the end of   treatment. We then check the fit of your first set of aligners and make any necessary adjustments to ensure an accurate and comfortable fit. We give wear and care instructions and answer any questions you might have about them.  We typically monitor your progress every six to eight weeks, except for our out of town patients, where we have more flexibility than with our braces patients.

Generic Aligners: The aligners will be sent to you in the mail. They are generally made of hard plastic with non-scalloped edges.  There will be no doctor there to ensure the aligners fit properly, or make any adjustments of them for you. Periodic remote monitoring of your orthodontic progress is better than no monitoring, but vastly inferior to in-person examinations.

Warranty and Retention

Invisalign: If after wearing the recommended number of aligners your results are less than ideal, we take a new scan and have Invisalign manufacture additional aligners at no charge ,to ensure the best possible final result for you. To ensure your orthodontic treatment lasts, patients can  then choose from a variety of  removable retainers to be worn at nighttime, or fixed retainers we place on the back side of your teeth .

Generic Aligners: If the desired results were not obtained, you typically have no recourse with other companies. You will not have a fixed retainer option, and less removable retainer options than with Invisalign.


Some do-it-yourself projects turn out well, but our staff  (including the doctors) don’t rely on cleaning their own teeth, much less doing  their own orthodontic treatment!  Orthodontic treatment is too complicated for home improvement. Call or text us at 561-627-5552 if you are ready to rust your smile to a team that has successfully treated 500 Invisalign cases!  

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Smiles at Dr. Kuhl

Dr. Kuhl was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. After receiving his Bachelors degree at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, he returned to his hometown and graduated from the University of Louisville Dental School in 1985. That same year he formed a group private practice in West Palm Beach. Over the next several years he also worked in public health and was a charter member of the Florida Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

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