Many of you may be under the impression that Invisalign is the name of the company that gave us an alternative to the dreaded “metal mouth.” However, Invisalign is actually a product manufactured by Align Technology, Inc. They are a company that has set out to provide the dental and orthodontic industries with innovative products that began with Invisalign clear aligners, but now includes iTero Intraoral scanners and OrthoCAD digital services. These technologies have allowed dental professionals, all across the world, to achieve outstanding results with their patients. The first sentence of Align Technology’s website sums up their company perfectly:
“Align Technology is dedicated to transforming lives by improving the journey to a healthy, beautiful smile.”
Amazingly, the Invisalign product was not created by a dental professional. In fact, it was created by an orthodontic patient by the name of Zia Chishti. It’s reported that Chishti conceived the idea when he was given a retainer to finish out his orthodontic treatment. His thought was that a series of retainer like devices would be able to slowly move teeth into proper placement.
Chishti partnered with fellow Stanford business graduate, Kelsey Wirth, in 1997. By 1998, their product was approved by the FDA and made available to the public a year later. Invisalign was initially met with resistance from the orthodontic community. This was due to the fact that neither Chishti nor Wirth actually had any credentials or expertise in orthodontic science. Like with many industries, this resistance gave way to the realization that there was a large amount of consumer interest.
Invisalign quickly gained popularity among orthodontic patients, especially the increasing number of adults seeking treatment. As it turns out, Chishti and Wirth were not prepared for the problems that come along with growth. After a series of misguided business and marketing decisions, they resigned from the company and were replaced by Tom Prescott. Fortunately, this change proved to be beneficial for both the Invisalign product and Align Technology as a whole.
“What I saw was a great opportunity with talented people and a very disruptive emerging technology. We rallied the management team to focus on fewer, more important priorities and were able to advance the business substantially.” – Tom Prescott
Align Technology has since grown to be a company of nearly 4 thousand employees. In 2007, they introduced a revolutionary technology in the form of the iTero Intraoral scanner and services. A simple explanation for this system would be that physical impressions of a patient’s teeth are now a thing of the past. This scanner creates a 3D image of the patient’s mouth that can then be used for a variety of procedures and treatments. Always looking to better educate their patients, a simulator was developed to show patients the outcome of their Invisalign treatment. Their commitment to the industry and its patients is nothing short of outstanding.
“We’re a young company. We still have more of a startup mentality. We see the opportunity for the very long term to become a standard of care in orthodontics and a leader in digital dentistry.” – Tom Prescott
Align Technology will undoubtedly continue to set the bar for innovation in the orthodontic and dental industries. There are currently over 45 thousand trained Invisalign doctors and over 3 million people have been treated. Align Technology’s ambition to continuously deliver cutting edge orthodontic and dental solutions will ensure that those numbers continue to grow in the years to come. If you’re considering orthodontic treatment with clear aligners, joining the Invisalign family is the best choice you could make.