In the dental aligner industry, getting the adjustment amount just right has been as much of an art as it is a science. This device empowers Smile Direct Club's team to collect the data they need to up their science to art ratio, leading to faster, less painful experiences for their customers.
Dental aligners have become increasingly popular in recent years as a more cost-effective, less invasive, and more effective alternative to traditional braces for straightening teeth. Smile Direct Club offers a unique approach to dental aligners by creating a whole set of custom aligners for each customer, which will step them through adjustments to move their teeth over time from their current state to the desired future position. Each subsequent aligner pushes the teeth a little bit closer to the goal, but determining how much to push with each aligner step is not a straightforward problem. Pushing too hard can be painful, but not pushing hard enough will take too long to complete a treatment, if it works at all. Most of the industry is essentially just making educated guesses here. To make an informed decision about how much to move each tooth with each new aligner, Smile Direct's team of scientists and engineers need data.
The problem of determining the optimal amount of movement for each tooth with each aligner is not straightforward to measure or even intuit. When an aligner pushes on a tooth, that tooth pushes its neighbors, who push their neighbors and so on. Each push or pull also pushes and pulls the aligner creating a cascading interaction that's impossible to guess at. We have developed a solution to eliminate guesses and replace them with hard measurements.
The solution is a device that uses an array of 3D printed teeth, which allows for microscopic adjustments in tooth position along 2 axes (down to 0.00005 mm increments) and measures minute changes in force in all 6 degrees of freedom (the sensors can read in the 2-6 gram range). The device is capable of performing these measurements for 16 teeth at once, providing a wealth of data that can be used to improve the design, creation, and delivery of dental aligners.
This device represents a significant advancement in the dental aligner industry, providing a solution to the complex problem of determining the optimal amount of movement for each tooth with each aligner. By collecting detailed data on the interactions between teeth and aligners, Smile Direct Club's team can make informed decisions about treatment and create aligners that are tailored to each individual patient's needs. This leads to faster, less painful experiences for patients and ultimately, more beautiful and confident smiles for everyone.
A challenge as complex as measuring aligner forces on teeth cannot be solved by a single person, no matter how expert. It takes a coordinated team of people, each with deep knowledge of their craft. That's the team we have here at Ovyl, all under one roof. Mechanical engineers made it strong and reliable; industrial designers made the device beautiful and usable; software engineers designed a sleek UI to match the device aesthetics and developed software capable of controlling the system while handling an incredible amount of sensor data concurrently. Design isn't just for designers. Design is the art of balancing opposing constraints, and elegantly integrating the work of experts of all kinds. This device embodies that idea. Smile Direct Club has been raising the bar for R&D in the dental space, and we are proud and grateful to be part of it. The finished device is now in use in Smile Direct's R&D lab.