Comparative time efficiency of aligner therapy and conventional edgewise braces.
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OBJECTIVE: To compare the time efficiency of aligner therapy (ALT) and conventional edgewise braces (CEB) based on large samples of patients treated by the same highly experienced orthodontist, with the same treatment goals for both groups of patients. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The retrospective portion of the study evaluated 150 CEB patients who were matched, based on mandibular crowding and number of rotated teeth, to 150 ALT patients. All records were obtained at one orthodontist's office. All of the patients had mild-to-moderate Class I malocclusions (5 mm incisor crowding) and were treated nonextraction. Age, gender, total treatment time, total number of appointments, types of appointments, materials used, mandibular crowding, and number of rotated teeth were recorded from the patients' records. The prospective portion of the study timed the various types of appointments for both treatments with a stopwatch. RESULTS: Compared to ALT, CEB required significantly (P<.01) more visits (approximately 4.0), a longer treatment duration (5.5 months), more emergency visits (1.0), greater emergency chair time (7.0 minutes), and greater total chair time (93.4 minutes). However, ALT showed significantly (P<.01) greater total material costs and required significantly more total doctor time than CEB (P<.01). CONCLUSIONS: Whether the greater time efficiency of ALT offsets the greater material costs and doctor time required depends on the experience of the orthodontist and the number of ALT case starts.