Straight Talk On Invisible Braces
But hold on. Robert L. Boyd, DDS, chairman of the department of orthodontics at the University of the Pacific in San Francisco, says that even with more complicated cases, he has seen good results with Invisalign. "There's no doubt it will take its place as one of the methods to straighten your teeth," he says. "On simple cases, it worked quite well. With moderate to moderate-difficult cases -- those needing the equivalent of one year of treatment with braces -- it worked very well. And that represents 40-50% of the market." Boyd, who conducted studies of Invisalign, says that in three short years, about half the orthodontists in the U.S. have learned to use the system -- and patient demand is high.
"Cost is not as much of an issue because it's less doctor time. So we're charging 20% to 25-30% more than conventional braces." Boyd says in his neck of the woods, few patients worry about the extra cost.
But that may not be the case elsewhere. "The fees are high," says Elidio Deleon, DMD, chair of the department of orthodontics at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. "Let's say basic braces are $3,000. If you want Invisalign, there's $500 for the set-up then 'X' number of dollars for each retainer. If you're in an area like California, where it's more affluent, then patients are certainly willing to give it a try. In our area, an excess of money is just not available. Money is a driving force."
Furthermore, that money could be wasted if patients aren't compliant, Deleon says. "This appliance is totally dependent on whether the patient chooses to wear it." Yet to be determined is whether Invisalign can also move teeth in complex cases -- such as when a pulled tooth has created a large space or if there is excessive crowding.
Still, there's no doubt that Invisalign has created a buzz -- even in lower-income areas. "People believe that a smile is critically important to their success and they're really jumping on it," Deleon says. "A lot of people are calling here about it." But, he adds, for every ten that do, just one has a mouth that might benefit.