The Secret History of Invisible Braces

October 20th, 2015

Did you know that NASA helped to create invisible braces?

It may seem like a giant leap to connect invisible braces to NASA but the two are actually more closely related than you may think.

Over the years, research carried out by NASA has led to many commercial products and services being developed. The NASA Technology Transfer Program have worked with private industry to share NASA resources, in order to create commercial products. The products created with the help of NASA are referred to as ‘spinoffs’. Examples of these spinoffs include infrared ear thermometers, scratch-resistant lenses and invisible braces.

So how were NASA involved in the creation of invisible braces?

NASA Advanced Ceramics Research worked with Ceradyne Inc. to develop translucent polycrystalline alumina. TPA (as it is often referred to) is a ceramic that is stronger than steel and has smooth, round properties to prevent breakage. The key thing about TPA is that it also has light-absorbing properties, which make it transparent.

TPA was originally used by NASA as protection for infrared antennae on heat-seeking missile trackers.

In 1986, Unitek contacted Ceradyne as they were searching for a strong, transparent material that could be used for orthodontic treatment. After putting forward TPA as an option, Ceradyne and Unitek worked together to develop the first invisible braces. The following year (1987), the first invisible bracket braces were introduced and have been in demand ever since.

Invisible braces have come a long way since their introduction to the orthodontic market in the 1980s and now there are more options to straighten teeth than ever before. The original style of invisible brace, with invisible brackets, is still available but now there are much better options.

Instead of choosing to have fitted braces, you can choose to have invisible aligners. They are just as strong and effective as ordinary braces but they offer you ultimate flexibility. Invisible aligners are removable, so you can eat and drink whatever you want, whenever you want. They are now the teeth straightening system of choice for many who prefer to straighten their teeth subtly.

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