I recently had the pleasure of attending the Invisalign Summit, which is held every other year and offers orthodontists and their team members an opportunity for continuing education time along with updating all of us on the current changes and innovations that Invisalign is making to improve their product. I saw a variety of case presentations where Invisalign was effectively used to treat cases that were complex, and in many cases most orthodontists would not have considered Invisalign as an option. In addition, I am becoming more and more comfortable with Invisalign as an option for teenagers instead of braces with the Invisalign Teen product. The biggest news out of the conference was the future implementation of Invisalign G4. Whenever Invisalign makes an innovation that is big enough to warrant calling it a new generation for the product, they give it a "G" tag and thus this is considered the 4th generation of the product.
Here is a video explaining the new approaches to some of the tooth movements that have been more difficult to achieve with Invisalign versus braces.
Invisalign G4 should thus allow:
1. Greater root tip control for upper central incisors and canines
2. Improved predictability for upper lateral incisors
3. Better clinical outcomes for anterior open bite treatment
All three of those categories of tooth movement were by far the most unpredictable with Invisalign treatment in the past, so I am looking forward to being able to offer the Invisalign option to patients who have those tooth movement needs to achieve a nice result.
Finally, the news I was most excited about was to hear that Invisalign has been very active in researching ways to improve the properties of the plastic used for the aligners. Invisalign suffers in comparison to braces in that the force levels are fairly high with the initial placement of the new trays and they then decay over the typical two week period a set of trays is worn. Not to get too technical, but this is the opposite of the properties of the initial wires we place to start the alignment and leveling process in a braces patient. The initial wires are made of nitinol and deliver a low, almost constant force throughout the period that they are in the mouth. These wires were obviously a huge advancement a few decades ago for the profession. As this chart shows, the plastic they are working on should allow force levels more in line with the most ideal for efficient tooth movement and I feel it could be a major game changer for clear aligner treatment versus braces.