So the quest began, to design a device that grabbed the aligner effectively, that didn’t change the aligner shape and provided a visco-elastic force that helped seat the aligners.
We assembled a team of material science experts, industrial designers and specialists in clear aligner therapy to engineer a device that satisfied all of these essential elements.
These included specific features:
- anatomical designs to encapsulate the anterior teeth in both the maxilla and the mandible
- a platform for engaging the posterior teeth as well
- ideal Shore Hardness of the device that did not disrupt the shape of the aligner when engaged
- silicone that had visco-elastic properties and satisfied all regulatory requirements, particularly being medical grade
- was easily utilised by patients and which were instinctive to use
- were durable and cost effective
Our first iteration was known as the “Bone”, which basically was a “2 armed” Munchie with anatomical grooves that had been carefully designed after much research. The aim was to accommodate the anterior teeth in the correct arch shape and bucco-lingual diameter that included the thickness of the aligner.
These anatomical grooves were critical to perfect, as they had to be deep enough to grab at least 25% of the clinical crown and to encapsulate over a larger area. Importantly, we did not want the device to touch the aligner just at the incisal edge, which we knew could warp the aligners’ morphology.
We achieved this after researching extensively into the anatomical metrics of the anterior teeth in as many populations as possible, all allowing for reasonable tolerances.
The Bone soon gave way to the “3 armed” shape that exists today, which gave us the option of seating the aligners posteriorly. The posterior shape had to be thick enough to be reasonably durable and wide enough to cover the occlusal surface of a molar or a premolar and a half at any one time.
Once the ideal shape had been established, we needed to pinpoint a material that would satisfy all of clinical requirements.