In the orthodontic office, when deciding between introducing LightForce or Invisalign for an orthodontic practice, the decision should be simple — it’s not LightForce or Invisalign, it’s LightForce and Invisalign. The fully digital orthodontic practice once was only futuristic, but it’s a part of practice life now. Offering technologies that patients want differentiates an orthodontic practice from the competition. Orthodontists who offer both clear aligner technology and the latest innovation in 3D custom-bracket technology by LightForce Orthodontics show their commitment to individualized dental care.
Years ago, Align Technology disrupted the orthodontic profession with its revolutionary clear aligner concept. Since the company recognized orthodontists’ resistance to change, they focused on educating patients on the benefits. Thanks to its direct-to-consumer advertising blitz, interested patients started requesting this clear aligner by name. Now, LightForce Orthodontics, which was created by orthodontists exclusively to help orthodontists, has devised the first significant advancement in bracket-based treatment in the past 50 years with a fully customized 3D-printed bracket system based on each patient’s unique tooth morphology and treatment plan. Learn how orthodontists are transforming their practices with our digital platform that provides fully customized 3D-printed tooth-moving technology.
While some patients request clear aligners, 80% of orthodontic patients still receive treatment with fixed appliances. Both LightForce and Invisalign start with an intraoral scan and end with delivering a 100% customized treatment. LightForce Orthodontics has disrupted traditional orthodontics through its method of achievable and predictable tooth movement. Gone are the days of bracket prescriptions — innovative orthodontists are welcoming the days of “tooth prescriptions.” Orthodontists retain complete control of every aspect of the treatment plan, but unlike with Invisalign, the LightPlan treatment planning software is a cloud-based interface for adjustments and approvals.
Kurt Frazier, Vice President of Sales for LightForce and former leader at Invisalign, explains that LightForce’s patented system offers many of the same benefits of clear aligner therapy, such as fewer appointments, treatment efficiency, and minimizing time-consuming adjustments compared to standard fixed appliances. He says, “Our first system we’ve just introduced combines the mechanics of braces and wires with Invisalign-like digital systems to customize the tooth movements with 3D printing.”
In this new era of orthodontics, it is challenging for orthodontists to fit 80-100 patients into their day. At the same time, patients and parents with busy lives are looking for ways to optimize their time. Both adults and teens want to spend less time in the orthodontist’s office. Invisalign provides patients with the option of seeing their orthodontist every 2 to 4 months, rather than every 6 weeks with conventional braces. LightForce also caters to this patient preference. Frazier says, “Having a 100% customized system created by LightForce allows patients to see the orthodontist less, finish treatment earlier, and provide predictable outcomes. LightForce’s system and clear aligners will both be essentials in every orthodontic practice.”
One important clinical advantage of LightForce over Invisalign is related to biomechanics. Frazier notes, “It is well-known that clear aligners don’t move the roots and control the vertical very well, so many times you’re working harder than you need to. Brackets and wires provide predictability to these critically important movements for treatment outcomes. He continues, “Since LightForce brackets are fully customized, you’re able to predictably achieve root movement and address vertical discrepancies, but also manage torque control due to the vertical autonomy of bracket placement. Orthodontists want to finish with a great occlusion so a patient’s smile lasts a lifetime. Predictable tooth movement and patient compliance has been a challenge with aligner therapy since its introduction to the market.”
“Many teenagers have been gravitating to treatment with LightForce in practices offering it,” Frazier said, and fixed appliances eliminate non-compliance setbacks. In fact, often parents request brackets for their children for the same reason. “Typically, patient commitment to wearing aligners can change drastically from the excitement of Day 1 to 4 to 6 months later. They go to an outing without their aligners, and then they start cheating more over time. The original plan may have been to finish in 9 months, but with busy lives, it’s easy to forget to wear aligners, and then treatment just drags on. With fixed appliances, that is not an issue.” And, although LightForce brackets are not invisible, the patient-specific 3D-printed ceramic polycrystalline alumina brackets are more aesthetic than traditional bracket systems. “The feedback on our bracket system has been tremendous and, as I mentioned earlier, many have been gravitating to it. Children especially love the way the ligatures’ colors pop off the white bracket.”
Frazier explains that LightForce protocols follow a similar digital workflow and schedule cadence as Invisalign. He says, “The first appointment for an Invisalign patient is about 45 minutes to conduct IPR, place attachments, and insert the first aligners. For LightForce, the bonding appointment takes about the same time because of our advanced IDB system called LightTrays, versus the standard to 1-1/2 hours for traditional bracket and wire placement.”
Orthodontists can use any intraoral scanner to create the patient’s individual prescription and upload it to their account. Then, a skilled and well-trained LightForce technician , supported by internal orthodontists prepares the first setup. The doctor maintains control, offering any changes to tweak the tooth movement. Once the clinician approves, the brackets are custom printed to exactly fit each tooth and shipped pre-loaded in an optimized indirect bonding (IDB) tray for easy and precise placement. Frazier adds, “3D printing allows our system to be the world’s first and only fully customized bracket system. The brackets are placed in the ideal position from day one. The result is a system that allows orthodontists to minimize or eliminate wire bending, repositioning, and debonding of brackets. We are a true straightwire system, with 100% customization.” That is the “one-size-fits-one” philosophy that sets the LightForce technology apart from any other bracket system on the market.
LightForce technology is especially relevant in this ever-evolving post-COVID-19 world, when clinicians are scrambling to work within new restrictions and to re-appoint patients who were cancelled during nationwide shutdowns. Many offices are operating at a fraction of their capacity for safety and health of patients and staff. It is no longer practical to see patients every 6 weeks, and LightForce allows you to increase the time between appointments — with efficient and precise results.
Two decades ago, Invisalign changed the orthodontic market forever. A similar opportunity has become available today with the next generation of bracket and wire technology. Like Invisalign for doctors, LightForce brings digital customization to a practice — this is achievable because “the patient is the prescription.” Orthodontists can offer both of these options with a familiar digital workflow and show their dedication to patient needs and innovation.