There are many issues regarding image that modern gents are faced with, but not many more pertinent than the issue of bad teeth. The ‘perfect smile’ has become ever more important for appearance, self confidence and is often seen as an indicator for overall hygiene. No longer are we faced with stigma of wearing ‘Train Tracks’ as new technology is on hand to give us a way of getting that winning smile without the fuss and embarrassment. Ape to Gentleman caught up with Invisalign expert Dr Paul Humber to dispel some myths about braces and to find out more about the Invisalign story.

EA: So Paul, how was it that the Invisalign technology come about?

PH: In 1997 a US financier developed it for his daughter who was suffering from dental problems which led to an interest and worked with an expert to find out more. Plastic braces have previously been tried in the 40/50’s, but developments including the improvement of technology mean that we now essentially have a Sat Nav to show people how to get teeth to the required shape. A further 1.6bn investment in the late 1990’s meant that by mid 2000’s the plastic braces were more comfortable, more advanced and able to handle more extreme teeth design. Now we can actually do smile design, whereas with conventional braces, while effective, the end result is more of an estimate.

The growth of Invisalign has been largely word of mouth, the “Secret of the Stars”; Russell Brand Cheryl Cole, Catherine Eagles have all been known to use Invisalign. We’renoticing a trend where one person in the office will have the Invisalign treatment and then their colleagues will come in and follow suit.

From a patients point of view they work better in that they fit in with your walk of life,while hygienically you can remove them to clean your teeth and still perform other treatments such as whitening.

EA: For those that don’t know much about braces, how does the cost compare?

PH: In terms of cost they are pretty similar to that of veneers or conventional braces. The popularity of braces over drilling (veeners) has grown with the new generation, who have better teeth and as such don’t need them to be drilled. A lot of people are driven to braces by wanting to make the most of what they’ve already got.

EA: How does the length of treatment compare in comparison?

PH: If we consider the length of the treatment, the time wearing the Invisalign braces is on average 25% less than with conventional braces, as the computer plans out the fastest route to perfect teeth, which is on average is between  9-18 months. Treatments have also been known to take as quick as 100 days; it all depends of the extremity of the smile design, and condition of teeth before. Another benefit with Invisalign is that unlike wire braces where the final outcome is doctor dependent, the outcome will always be the same as it is the software that maps out the treatment, not the Dentist.

EA: For those men think that they are too old for braces, what would you tell them?

PH: The age of the clients is varied, but we have definitely noticed an increase in the age of people having the treatment. I have one male patient in his 70’s who is undergoing the treatment, who mentioned that in his Spanish class there are three other retired males using braces – this is certainly a first in my experience! That said we do get a many school graduates, or University students spending their loans.

Another interesting trend we’re finding is that when women in their late 20’s are having the treatment, men are proposing to them midway through!

EA: Do you see a marked difference in your patients as the treatment progresses? Is it just with confidence?

PH: I’ve been doing a study with Cardiff University on Dentistry and its effect on confidence self esteem and happiness. While the results have not yet been finalised, we’re finding that it’s not so much the straight teeth that breeds confidence, it’s the decision to tackle something that has bothered you your whole life. For example, the best part of winning the Lottery is finding out that you’ve won. I had one client that always used to hold his hand over his mouth when he spoke, within 12 weeks the hand had dropped down.

EA: Do you find it strange that something essentially designed for function, i.e. Teeth, have become such a large focus in the Aesthetics of a person?

PH: The top two bodily self hates are stomach and unsightly teeth, so not too strange really no. It seems that men are beginning to take this onboard too; we didn’t use to get many adult males, but now they make up around 40% of our business. Males are leading women to the treatment more, whereas traditionally it was women leading men. I think among other things it’s the technological aspect that appeals to men and makes it more acceptable socially and when discussing with friends.

EA: Finally, if there was one piece of advice you could give anyone, what would it be?

PH: Don’t panic, you may feel that your smile is beyond redemption but that’s not the case. Have a look online, do some research around the Invisalign treatment to hear about people’s experiences and results. You can also go directly to the Invisalign website, enter your postcode and it’ll tell you all the Invisalign experts in your area, as well as their levels of experience so you can book yourself in for a consultation.

www.invisalign.co.uk

About Dr Paul Humber:
Paul Humber is a partner at Hopvine House Dental Surgery, Cambridgeshire. He has been treating patients with Invisalign since 2003 and is a Clinical Speaker for Align Technology, training clinicians in the technique in the UK and Europe. His work and research in the technique has been widely published in dental journals. For more information visit
www.sohamdental.co.uk