3D-printed braces maker LightForce Orthodontics sinks teeth into $50M funding round

As teeth-straightening clear aligners have surged in popularity and become increasingly available via digital platforms, traditional braces have been left in the dust, with only minimal technological updates in the last few decades.

LightForce Orthodontics, however, is aiming to beam those brackets into the future. Its system combines 3D printing technology and cloud-based treatment planning software to produce braces fully customized to each patient’s teeth and orthodontic needs.

Fully on board with this approach are a cadre of investors who pooled $50 million in a recently closed series C funding round for the Massachusetts-based startup. Kleiner Perkins led the fundraising, with additional support from several previous investors, including Matrix Partners, Tyche Partners and AM Ventures.

“The investment from Kleiner Perkins allows us to continue creating mass-customized braces that enable orthodontists to provide a personalized patient experience within an industry that has not evolved the use of braces in the last 25 years,” said Alfred Griffin, D.M.D., Ph.D., LightForce’s co-founder and CEO. “A patient’s teeth are all unique as snowflakes, and now orthodontists have the technology to account for that individualism in their treatment plan, just as they have with their aligner cases.”

RELATED: Overjet nets FDA clearance for gum-disease-spotting deep learning software

The new funding will allow LightForce to specifically target the teen market, Griffin said, offering young orthodontic patients a more precise, largely digital teeth-straightening process. With the funds, LightForce will not only expand its operations and the commercialization of its technology, but also provide its orthodontist clients with training and education to improve their use of the platform.

Orthodontists use LightForce’s LightPlan web-based software to design treatment plans for each patient, with completely customizable placement of each bracket and wire to achieve the desired final positioning of each tooth.

Once the plan is approved, LightForce 3D prints the ceramic brackets—available in either the white Cloud model or translucent Light edition—and accompanying silicone indirect bonding trays to place several brackets at once in their exact prescribed locations.

Because the bracket placement can be customized to within one-thousandth of a millimeter, LightForce says its technology results in shorter treatment periods, with fewer appointments throughout.

RELATED: AI-powered orthodontics startup InBrace lines up $102M for behind-the-teeth straightening tech

The company’s series C round comes on the heels of a year during which it reported more than 500% growth in annual revenue, as well as a 300% expansion of its team.

That oversized growth is quickly becoming par for the course among dental-focused medtechs. In early September, another orthodontics startup, InBrace, lined up a $102 million VC round of its own, with plans to direct those funds toward developing its artificial intelligence-guided behind-the-teeth braces technology.

That came just a few weeks after yet another minty-fresh medtech, Overjet, raked in $27 million to bring its FDA-cleared AI software for dental X-ray analysis into more clinics across the country.