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  4. The power to choose: How 3M Oral Care is helping orthodontists take aligner treatment to the next level
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    The power to choose: How 3M Oral Care is helping orthodontists take aligner treatment to the next level


    Close-up image of 3M™ Clarity™ Aligners Flex + Force material

    • It’s good to have options. Thanks to 3M™ Clarity™ Aligners Flex + Force, orthodontists now have more choices to tailor treatment for their patients. 3M Oral Care offers orthodontists two unique aligner materials in a single treatment design.

      The new aligner, Clarity Aligners Flex, complements the existing aligner, Clarity Aligners Force. Together, these materials help orthodontists truly customize each patient’s treatment, following their own treatment philosophy.

    Transforming aligner treatment

    • When it comes to orthodontic treatment, there is no one-size-fits-all. Each patient is unique and orthodontists must create a unique treatment plan to match patient needs. Often, orthodontists must strike a balance between two important goals: Achieve a straight, healthy smile and provide a great treatment experience along the way.

      Enter 3M™ Clarity™ Aligners.

      The removable, nearly invisible aligner trays are custom fit to each patient. Patients can eat foods they love and take advantage of aesthetically-pleasing treatment options while still achieving a straight smile. Aligners are designed to gradually move and guide the teeth into the ideal position. Typically, patients get a series of aligners to wear for about one to two weeks each, depending on the treatment plan.

      As their names suggest, Clarity Aligners Flex + Force give orthodontists the opportunity to choose from two aligner materials – one that is more flexible, one that is more rigid.

      “Flexibility makes it easy for patients to insert and remove [the aligner], which can encourage compliance with treatment,” explains Tahua Yu, product developer and materials scientist for 3M Oral Care.

      Some orthodontists may want a more flexible material up front to help patients ease into aligner treatment, later switching to a more rigid material to finalize movement. Others may desire a force-first approach, finishing details and alignment with a flexible material. Ultimately, depending on their treatment philosophy, orthodontists can choose an aligner material combination that meets their needs, is esthetic and fits their patients well.


    Using 3M Materials Science

    • Clarity Aligners Flex is a next-generation aligner material, building on 70 years of multi-layer film technology at 3M – the same technology used in flat screen televisions and smart phone touch screens.

      “We worked with multi-layer film experts across 3M. We had to invent some new ways to combine what were previously considered un-combinable materials,” reflects Karl Geisler, senior product development specialist for 3M Oral Care.

      The new material, Clarity Aligners Flex, was developed with a proprietary 5-layer biocompatible thermoplastic polymer that results in a film that is thinner and more flexible, yet durable.

      “Materials were chosen for their properties and the synergistic effect greater than any single material can achieve,” explains Tahua Yu.

      The resulting multi-layer material offers a variety of characteristics and benefits. The outer layers of Clarity Aligners Flex resist staining and scratching, while the inner layers provide flexibility, resilience and strength.


    What orthodontists are saying

    The impact of 3M’s Oral Care’s latest innovation is perhaps best captured by orthodontists themselves.

    “I am really happy that 3M is offering a dual aligner material system”

    Dr. Darin Iverson

    As Dr. Doug Palaganas echoes,

    “I’ve been waiting for this!”

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