A new study has found that, while Invisalign clear plastic alignerscost more in materials than conventional edgewise braces, they requirefewer patient visits and a shorter duration of treatment. Thefindingswere presented at the recent American Association for Dental Research annual meeting in Tampa, Fla, according to an article on Medscape News Today.

For the study, the researchers evaluated the records of 150 patientswith mild to moderate class I malocclusion. An Invisalign and anedgewise group were matched for the amount of initial malocclusion andthe number of rotated teeth. The researchers measured the time taken byappointments for both types of treatment with a stopwatch.

The researchers found that while conventional braces required amedian of 13.6 minutes for a routine visit, Invisalign patients required9.9 minutes. Emergency, initial, and final appointments were all longerthan regular visits.

Conventional braces required about 2.6 more visits than Invisalign,2.4 months longer for treatment, 1.1 more emergency visits, 9.7 minutesmore of chairtime, 1.2 minutes more emergency doctor time, and 86.2minutes more in total chair time. Invisalign, however, cost $500 to$1441 more in materials and required 5.9 minutes more doctor time thanconventional braces.

To measure profitability, the researchers looked at fees minus thecost of materials and found that Invisalign was more profitable thanconventional braces. This was especially the case for Invisalignproviders who are charged $899 in lab costs—a discount that Align,makers of Invisalign, offers to doctors who do more cases.

For these doctors, Invisalign provided about $1000 of profit per hourof chairtime with the first $2,750 in fees to the patient, rising to$3,250 with $6,000 in fees. Doctors who were charged $1,549 in lab costsby Align had a profit of about $500 with the first $2,750 in fees,rising to $3,000 with $6,000 in fees.

Braces were less profitable overall, starting at $750 per hour ofchairtime with the first $2,750 in fees, but reaching only $2000 with$6,000 in fees.