Orthodontic treatment using aligners has more than 20 years of history. Like almost every other technology it is constantly changing and improving. Once performed on plaster models, the planning now is purely digital. The production part is evolving as well, opening a wide range of possibilities both for vendors and doctors alike.
Thanks to the affordable desktop 3D printers and new materials, production costs have decreased significantly. Every dental office with a small lab can produce aligners in-house, making aligner treatment more affordable for patients. Production is relatively easy and does not require expensive equipment (3d printer, vacuum forming machine and a micromotor). So more and more doctors nowadays switch to the in-office aligners production.
One question remains however. What about the treatment planning, the most complicated part of aligner production. Two options are available:
The dentist buys a standard software and plans the cases him/herself
Aligner Planning is made by the aligner design service company
Both methods have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Option 1 - Design and manufacture in-house
To perform orthodontic planning one must purchase the treatment planning software first. The most popular programs usually cost around 3000 EUR per year. Software training then follows. Another factor that needs to be considered is time. To create a virtual plan, an experienced operator spends at least 1.5-2 hours. For a busy dentist, that time could be spent in a more effective way elsewhere. Some cases will require a second or third refinement. Needless to say, planning must be done consistently to obtain the necessary digital expertise.
Option 2 - outsource design, manufacture in-house
In this case planning is outsourced to expert vendors such as eXceed, that specialize in the treatment design service. There is no need to be buying the software license and learn how to use it. Planning is made by the certified dental technicians and every plan is quality-checked by a supervisor orthodontist. The customer gets a detailed treatment plan with a 3D simulation and full prescription on necessary IPR and attachments The plan can be modified under the doctor’s request. Following approval of the treatment plan, the dentist obtains a link to the print files, allowing in-office production of aligners.
For many offices, the combination of outsourced planning and in-house production allows to offer a reliable yet affordable aligner treatment.
Scan the patient
Submit treatment digital models, intraoral picture, panorex and Treatment objectives
Approve the 3d aligner treatment plan
Get STL files for your 3d printer
Produce aligners in your office