Business Telegraph

Invisalign: The Beginnings

  • Written by News Company


Invisalign technology is well-known the world over as offering people with misaligned teeth – especially adults who did not have orthodontic treatment in childhood, for whatever reason – a way to correct their dental flaws without the need to wear a brace for several months or even years. The company Align Technologies was founded in 1994 by innovators Zia Chishti and Kelsey Wirth and fellow founders Apostolos Lerios and Brian Freyburger.

The whole premise behind the company came from Zia Chishti's personal experiences. Born in 1971 to a Pakistani mother and American father. Following the death of his father in 1974, the small family moved to Lahore, Pakistan. Chishti returned to the United States to attend university. Following his graduation with a degree in computer science, Chishti embarked on a program of orthodontic work to improve the appearance and health of his teeth and mouth.

This involved him requiring braces. This entailed the gluing of brackets to each tooth, with a series of wires threaded through these brackets. The wire is then tightened in order to shift the teeth into the required position – a simple enough process. However, it can be uncomfortable: the brackets are constantly in place and eating and drinking can be a trial, it is quite difficult to clean one's teeth adequately with the brackets in place, and traces of the glue used to hold the brackets in place can remain, sometimes through several dental cleanings.

It was this experience, plus being given a clear plastic retainer for night wear that made Chishti wonder if he could somehow use clear retainers in conjunction with the tensile strength of the wire (needed to shift the teeth into position) to create braces that would work effectively while allowing for a more presentable appearance and better oral hygiene. The former is especially important for adults in jobs where a suitable appearance is desirable: anything from lawyers to teachers to salespeople. In fact, any adult with traditional braces probably receives unwanted comments on them: Invisalign removed the stigma of adult braces.

Chishti and Wirth worked on the issue for a couple of years, before teaming up with Lerios and Freyburger. The ultimate system that they came up made extensive use of modern 3D printing technology and plotting software, such as CAD. Using these systems, the four pioneers came up with a series of retainers, beginning with the patient's current bite pattern and slowly adjusting it through a series of slightly different alignments into their ideal bite pattern, straightening teeth, shifting them into position and tightening up any gaps between ill-fitting teeth: and doing all while offering a 'normal' appearance. Today Invisalign is a treatment which can be found at different dental clinics globally - Pure Dentistry being one of those expert clinics offering the named service.