Did you ever have traditional metal braces? If so, you most likely remember the discomfort of dental clinics and the disappointment of knowing you couldn’t eat popcorn or chewy candy. If you have ever heard someone complain about the pain their braces caused them, it probably involved sore teeth, mouth sores and avoiding certain foods.
You may wonder how a friend or co-worker obtained an aligned smile, without ever having to wear metal braces. They most likely received treatment at a local dental clinic that involved no pain or discomfort whatsoever; not to mention, they could eat whatever they wanted.
The story behind clear braces is one that all inventors can relate to, even if their product is unrelated to dental clinics. Although the concept of clear braces had often been discussed among dental specialists and product developers between 1970 and 1990, it wasn’t until Zia Chishti and Kelsey Wirth produced a treatment system in 1999 that people were finally able to use clear braces.
Chishti and Wirth were both graduates of Stanford University who once wore traditional braces and did not enjoy the uncomfortable experience. Although neither of them had any dental training, they came together to invent a system that would help dental clinics correct people’s dental alignment without all the metal and discomfort. They were driven to help people obtain beautiful smiles and have a hassle-free and painless experience.
During Chishti’s own treatment, he wore metal braces and then had to wear a retainer for several months after he got his braces removed. He noticed that his teeth would shift whenever he didn’t wear his retainer for a few days, but when he used his retainer again, his teeth would start moving back to where they were supposed be. This is where he got the initial idea for clear braces using a retainer-style treatment.
Using Chishti and Wirth’s method, many dental clinics now offer clear braces using photographs of patients’ teeth. The 3-D imaging technology that Chishti and Wirth invented helps orthodontists project how a patient’s teeth will look at the end of the treatment, as well as at several projected milestones. Every two weeks, the patient obtains a new retainer as the alignment of their teeth comes closer to the final result.
Just like many other inventors and innovators, Chishti and Wirth used their personal experiences to further develop dental treatments for dental clinics, and to offer the world beautiful smiles without an uncomfortable experience.