Approximately 32% of people say they’re concerned about the look of their teeth. For those whose concerns stem from crooked chompers or bite issues, braces might be a bit too obvious for their tastes. Invisalign skyrocketed to popularity due to their subtlety and flexibility of wear, but they come with a hefty price tag. Now, a New York City-based startup called Candid is offering FDA-approved alignment tools that are 3D-printed — and they cost way less than Invisalign.
Candid’s products are meant for those who need mild-to-moderate orthodontic work. They have a three-step approach to straighter teeth: they’ll send the person a modeling kit to take their own impressions, and then they’ll send them off to Candid’s orthodontists, who will review the models and decide whether they can help. If they decide the person is a good candidate, they’ll create a personalized plan and send the customer a 3D model of what their teeth will look like at the end. (They’ll refer them to an orthodontist’s office if they think the case is more severe and may require additional procedures.) Once the 3D model is approved, they’ll make the aligners that will arrive within a couple of weeks, along with a teeth whitening solution.
The process of getting the aligners can take as little as six weeks. Once the customer starts using the aligners, it takes around five months on average to finish the straightening process. Candid will also send the customer a nighttime retainer to make sure their straightened teeth stay that way.
Candid’s aligners cost $1,900, but that’s nothing compared to Invisalign, which can cost anywhere from $7,000 to $8,000. While part of the deal is doing a bit of the work at home, it’s still a much more affordable option for many people. That’s often the beauty of 3D printing, especially in the medical field and much of the dental industry, in particular: it makes getting treatment a reality for a much bigger portion of the population.
Candid co-founder and CEO Nick Greenfield told TechCrunch, “By providing a lower-cost option, you increase accessibility for those who may not be able to afford the more expensive treatment or are unwilling to do something they may think is more cosmetic in nature… This is one of those areas that’s very untouched and seems to be unfairly focused on; if you’re rich, you can get braces and if you’re poor, you can’t. We want to bring a solution that’s in-between.”
However, the startup doesn’t see itself as a threat to orthodontists.
“At the end of the day, we don’t see Candid as a disruptor, per se,” said Greenfield said. “We see us as a company that increases the market opportunity by increasing access and lowering costs for those milder cases.”