Can You DIY Your Invisalign?
Invisalign, a miracle of 3D manufacturing, laser scanning, and materials technology, has recently been hailed the replacement of the often-painful and traumatizing metal braces. And it’s quite clear why: it doesn’t look like you have one—plus points for aesthetics—and it isn’t as painful.
However, the problem with Invisalign is that not all cosmetic dentists offer such a service (and certainly, not all dentists offer cosmetic dentistry), not to mention its somewhat hefty price tag. In the United States, it starts at around $3500 (AED 12,850), while other clinics offer additional services bundled with Invisalign for $8000 (AED 29,385). In Dubai, Invisalign costs are about the same.
With the advent of 3D printing and tools you can buy online, some individuals ask: is it possible to DIY your own Invisalign?
Why the Costs?
It isn’t just about the material. Invisalign uses a clear thermoplastic material to create its aligners staggered every two weeks, which you need to use in order, as ordered by your orthodontist. Over time, this series of plastic aligners will move your teeth to the desired position.
Certainly, metal braces do the same thing, just without the unsightly ‘metal mouth’. Invisalign costs is mainly because of the training required to prescribe an Invisalign treatment. As for the equipment, your first few visits with an Invisalign provider are all about taking X-rays and impressions of your teeth, from which Invisalign will make a series of moulds corresponding to your teeth’s position as the treatment progresses.
Not to mention the Invisalign after care, which consists of special retainers and care methods your dentist may recommend, so your teeth wouldn’t regress.
3D Printing Your Braces
Late last year, Amos Dudley, a college student from New Jersey, was able to ‘print’ an Invisalign alternative with about $60. That’s a far cry from the thousands of dollars you would normally shell out for Invisalign, The Daily Mail notes. He used alginate, Permastone, and even sourced materials from eBay!
In his blog, Dudley chronicled how he came up with the idea, and noted that ‘what’s there to stop anyone from 3D printing your own orthodontic aligners’? He follows this up with ‘nothing much’. His series of retainers, carefully labelled because they look identical, prodded his teeth to the correct position over 16 weeks.
He, however, cautioned uninformed people to do the same, nor would he accept payment to create them for other people. He claims he’s no orthodontist, and that the project was more of a ‘hacker project’ than anything else—and that high-quality, accurate 3D printers were still out of reach of average consumers, as he even used his university’s.
In the end, while you can certainly go the DIY route when doing your Invisalign, it’s still best to drop by your dentist and ask about it. It’s too risky doing it on your own even with such savings, unless your name is Amos Dudley.
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