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Brace Yourself! More Adults Are Opting for Clear Aligners to Straighten Teeth

Active Aligners are growing in popularity with South African adults.

Crystal Espin



Dentistry is constantly evolving, with new treatment options being frequently introduced to enhance patient care. But, very few new dental advancements have seen an explosion in popularity quite like clear aligners. The new toast of the town for adults who want straight teeth and the perfect bite, clear aligners mean that patients no longer have to settle for braces as their only solution for teeth realignment. Comfortable, removable, and nearly invisible, it’s easy to see why the market for clear aligners is progressively expanding in South Africa and abroad.

What’s more, one company is making it easier than ever before for South Africans to access treatment with clear aligners. With a lab based in South Africa, Active Aligners offers South Africans seeking orthodontic treatment with clear aligners a more affordable, locally-made option that they can smile about.

What are Active Aligners?

If you didn’t have braces as a kid, or you find you want or need adjustments again, then you might be a candidate for clear aligners. Prescribed by your dental professional, Active Aligners are clear aligners that have been developed specifically for repositioning your teeth in a predictable, smooth, clear and comfortable manner. Instead of metal brackets, wires or screws, Active Aligners involve wearing a 3D-printed thermoplastic material to achieve your desired results. It’s pretty much teeth straightening for dummies. The process is so easy, you’d be forgiven for thinking there has to be a catch somewhere along the way.

The nearly invisible aligner trays are customised to fit your teeth snuggly and look like a retainer. They can be worn throughout the day while going unnoticed by the people around you. While clear aligners are indeed revolutionary, the treatment works on basic orthodontic principles to slowly shift the position of your teeth over time, just like traditional metal braces. The aligners work to correct crooked teeth, gaps or rotation in a planned fashion that is relatively pain-free.

Before getting started, patients visit their dentist for a 3D scan of their teeth and, depending on the prescribed treatment course, are then provided with a series of Active Aligner trays to wear 22 hours a day, 1 to 2 weeks at a time (one stage), which move the teeth per stage until their optimal alignment has been reached. The inconspicuous trays can be easily removed for eating and drinking and are relatively low maintenance in terms of day-to-day use.

How does it work?

As mentioned, the first step of the process is a visit to your dental provider for a commitment-free consultation session. In this session, the Active Aligner dental provider will take a 3D scan or impression to achieve a replica of your teeth. Once the imaging is ready, 3D models are manufactured for each stage of the Active Aligner treatment and a smile summary is created. A virtual setup is then prepared to show the dental professional the planned treatment through each stage, as well as the end result. It is this step that truly sets Active Aligner therapy apart from traditional orthodontic treatment, as, using predictive models and reverse-engineering the trays from there, your dentists can see the end result even before you begin treatment.

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Once you’ve decided to proceed, the trays are 3D printed and your full set of aligners are presented to you in a neat Smile Club Box. From there, you simply switch out your trays every two weeks (depending on the directive given by your dental provider). But you won’t be going it alone, the treatment process does involve check-up consultations with your dentist along the way to ensure your treatment is tracking correctly and everything is running smoothly.

Once you’ve reached your final trays, your dentist will discuss retainer options with you. At this stage, you can opt for either a fixed retainer bar or a final set of removable retainer trays, similar to your aligner trays, that must be worn every night while sleeping.

How are Active Aligners made?

Active Aligner trays are printed using Structo 3D printers with MSLA technology. After more than three years of R&D, Structo has perfected a truly unique method of accurate 3D printing. Structo’s revolutionary MSLA technology enables their printers to achieve record-breaking printing speeds, which it says are much faster than the existing SLA or DLP printers around.

Once printed, it is on to the thermoforming stage, where 3D printed models meet the thermoplastic material which is used to create Active Aligners. High pressure thermoforming is required to form aligners over 3D printed models. This is an important step because, in order to create clear aligners with predictable tooth movement, accuracy is required across the teeth, gum line definition and gingival textures. Then, before your Active Aligners are delivered to your dental provider, a thorough quality check is done to check all margins, borders, thicknesses, numbering and arch form of your aligners.

How much does it cost?

Of course, we all know that any orthodontic treatment doesn’t come cheap. If you’ve looked into getting clear aligners, then chances are you fell off the dentist’s chair when they gave you the quote. Fortunately, for South Africans, there is hope for your bank account thanks to the locally-manufactured option from Active Aligners. While many clear aligner options available in SA are manufactured in an overseas lab, Active Aligners are made here in the good ole Republic.

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Having an Active Aligners laboratory in South Africa allows dental providers to significantly reduce the cost of clear aligner treatment for patients. Without the cost of expensive overseas shipping costs and import duties, Active Aligners makes clear aligner treatment more accessible to the local public who have to pay out of pocket for the treatment. What’s more, with the lab being based in SA, patients can expect quick delivery of their clear aligners and any issues with trays needing to be reprinted can be dealt with quickly and easily with no long waiting periods. Patients usually have their aligners within 10 days of agreeing to treatment and see results within 7 months.

In this case from Enamel Clinic’s Dr Sher, straightening teeth with Active Aligners took just 6 months.

Each case is measured and priced individually. The cost of treatment depends on how extensive the case is and how many trays you will need to achieve the desired results. As a gauge, an extensive case with Active Aligners can cost between R35,000 – R40,000. Comparatively, the same treatment with competitor clear aligner brands can cost as much as R100,000. (These estimates were based on comparative consultation quotes from the same patient at two different dental practices). What’s more, Active Aligners also offers patients payment plans to help make their dream of a perfect smile easier to achieve. Click here for more details on finance and payment plans.

Where to get Active Aligners fitted

Interested in Active Aligners? Patients based in Cape Town can book a consultation with Active Aligners expert Dr Marc Sher at Enamel Clinic Cape Town to find out if you’re a candidate for this innovative dental solution.

The holy grail of dentistry, Enamel Clinic, isn’t your average dentist’s office. The unique practice is home to dental experts specialising in dentistry care across the spectrum; from specialist hygienists to general dentists; aesthetic dentists; periodontists and more. At Enamel, knowledge, skill and experience are the credentials that set the team apart from the rest. Not all dentistry is equal – when you visit the Enamel Clinic, your dentistry will be bespoke!

Dr Marc Sher, Enamel Clinic.

Dr Marc Sher is a General Dentist and a partner at Enamel Clinic. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Dental Science – B.Ch.D (UWC 2007), has achieved accreditation for Myobrace and is a Key Opinion Leader for Active Aligners South Africa. Book a consultation with Dr Sher at Enamel Clinic now!

For patients outside of Cape Town, Active Aligners has qualified providers located across South Africa. Visit the Active Aligners website for a full list of providers in South Africa.

For more information, follow Active Aligners on Facebook and Instagram. Follow Enamel Clinic on Facebook and Instagram.

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