First there were standard braces for helping line teeth up neatly, but most people realised that these fell far short of the ideal in terms of appearance and comfort.
Then came invisible teeth aligners, or clear braces, which were miles better in both the comfort and the appearance stakes. Most people can’t easily tell if someone is wearing clear braces, and they are a good deal more convenient.
But even these have had their problems and drawbacks, as a result of which the next step in teeth alignment is here, and it comes in the form of nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology isn’t just the stuff of science fiction films. It’s the science of the very small, controlling and using materials at the molecular level to create advanced composite materials and tools. It sounds quite sophisticated for something as relatively simple as an aligner, but there’s a good reason why this sort of technology is beneficial.
The Two Problems With Clear Braces
The two biggest problems with clear braces have been abrasion and damage. That sounds like one and the same problem, but they’re two quite different issues.
The abrasion issue is that clear braces rub against the teeth and gums, and in some cases this has resulted in slight damage to both the surface of the teeth and the gums. This abrasion has also sometimes worked the other way around, with the aligners becoming damaged due to rubbing.
The second issue though is that when biting on some foods it is possible that the clear braces become damaged, torn or broken. Granted this doesn’t happen in every case, but it happens enough to have caused concern, and to prompt research into ways to improve invisible braces.
The real challenge has been to improve the strength and durability of clear braces, and to improve the comfort of them, without compromising their transparency.
This is why nanotechnology seemed the perfect answer, because strength can be generated on a molecular level which doesn’t adversely affect the appearance of the brace in any way.
Nanotechnology Meets Cosmetic Dentistry
The UC3M Polymers and Composite Group have developed a plastics material which combines the traditional clear polymer used for braces with extremely hard nanoparticles of alumina.
These alumina nanoparticles are completely invisible to the naked eye, and don’t have any adverse effect on the transparency or invisibility of the teeth aligners.
However, they are able to significantly increase the strength, durability and resilience of the aligners, making them much stronger and less likely to become worn, damaged or even bitten through.
But because these alumina nanoparticles are so small they also provide a smoother surface to the braces which means that they are less likely to rub against the surface of the teeth and the gums, making them less likely to cause any damage as well as become damaged themselves.
This is an exciting development, taking what many consider already to have been a huge step forwards in cosmetic dentistry yet another leap forwards, providing people with a very appealing and manageable solution to a wide range of dental problems, from misaligned teeth and missing teeth to crowded teeth and even overbites and underbites.
Many of these problems can now easily be solved in a matter of months thanks to clear braces, and with the new nanoplastics technology developed by UC3M such braces can now provide an even better level of comfort as well as remaining in good condition for longer.
Bio-Compatible Invisible Teeth Aligners
Another positive point worth mentioning is that the alumina nanoparticles are bio-compatible, which means that they are completely safe even when kept within the mouth for long periods of time.
This is essential of course, since braces will not only be kept in the mouth for many months, but will come in direct contact with food and drink which will then be ingested.
There are now European requirements covering products which will come into contact with food, and fortunately the new nanoplastic technology which includes alumina has already passed the necessary tests, and fully complies with all European safety legislation.