How Has the Clear Aligner Industry Developed Throughout the Last 5 Years?

By  //  May 1, 2022

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Cheerful young woman is holding blue case with transparent clear aligners for fixing tooth bite. She is standing and smiling. Focus on plastic teeth

Clear aligners have been available to the public since their introduction to the market in 1997. Consumers have been using clear aligners since, however, the industry has gained much traction in recent years. This uptick in clear aligner consumption has translated to a growing and evolving market.

In 2020, the clear aligner global market was estimated to be worth $2.2 billion. This sum is further estimated to grow to $6.2 billion by 2026. This substantial growth can be attributed to expanded awareness of clear aligners and their benefits. 

A Brief History of Clear Aligners

In 1997 Zia Chishti and Kelsey Worth founded clear aligners, by closely analyzing the model, structure and efficiency of retainers. Born out of this was Invisalign. The aligners were removable and clear, and were made using plastic as the primary material. This was a stark contrast to previous years, where patients seeking orthodontic services often had to use braces, which were, and still are, constructed using metal and wire.

Braces usually necessitated the use of retainers following their completion. Consumers were interested in Invisalign, as it was a way for adults to seek teeth correction without the need for unsightly braces. 

Invisalign was also dynamic, as the company utilized computer generated imagery to envisage the aligners. The company behind Invisalign was also able to acquire patents, which allowed them to have full and complete control over this new market. This disallowed competition, and prevented similar products from entering the market. 

The Last Five Years

Since the creation of Invisalign, new products have finally been able to enter the market, and reimagine what clear aligners can be. This has spurred innovation in the industry, and now consumers are able to access remote technology for their aligners. This means that people now have the choice between in-person and at-home treatments.

Some businesses even function almost entirely online. This requires virtual check-ups, and at-home impression taking. However, other businesses have incorporated the new technology to have a hybrid model. This has allowed consumers to have in-person orthodontic visits, with at-home benefits. 

Direct-to-Consumer Clear Aligners

Direct-to-consumer clear aligners are frequently in the at-home aligner category. These aligners are an innovative and new form of clear aligners. Multiple companies using this model have appeared in the last five years. 

One at-home aligner that has skyrocketed in popularity since its introduction to the market in 2017, is Byte. This company has positioned accessibility and affordability as their primary business values. At-home clear aligners are known for being more affordable, and Byte has optimized this sector of the market.

The company works with orthodontists and dentists nationwide, and provides at-home invisible aligners to any consumer. Other direct-to-consumer aligner companies are: SmileDirectClub, NewSmile, and AlignerCo. 

It is important to note that, with at-home clear aligner treatment, only initial orthodontic oversight is required. However, these aligners are, more often than not, used to treat mild misalignments. This is in contrast to in-person treatment, where not only are orthodontic visits required regularly, but treatments can range from mild to severe misalignment.

Accessibility and Price

A significant change in the last five years within the clear aligner industry is accessibility of aligners, as well as their price. Patients now have a range of choices and can choose the treatment plan that works best for them. Similarly, when choosing between at-home and in-person aligner treatment plans, consumers are able to weigh up the price differences and shop around.

Whilst in-person treatments can cost up to $10,000, at-home treatments cost up to $3,000. This is in contrast to the more standardized Invisalign fee, which is approximately $5,000. 

Many consumers are uncomfortable with in-person treatments, or wearing any form of visible aligners. The existence and prevalence of clear aligners solves one discomfort. However, at-home treatment plans allow those that have avoided orthodontic work, because of in-person treatment, to access comfortable treatment. This has allowed aligners to become far more accessible to a broader range of people. 

Final Thoughts

The creation of Invisalign has inspired many companies to reimagine and revitalize the clear aligner industry.The last five years has seen tremendous innovation, with companies like Byte introducing at-home clear aligner solutions. This has allowed clear aligners to become affordable and accessible to many more people.

If consumers are looking to find clear aligners in Florida, Clear Aligner Hub has a useful list of the best clear aligner companies in Florida for 2022.