Change is inevitable and, in many cases, a necessity for shaping the future. When it comes to physical and dental medicine, changes and advancements are the gateways for treatments to become more effective.
Progress of procedures, techniques, diagnostics methodologies, and related equipment are all subject to change. With time, improvements in different areas of medicine allow practitioners to offer patients more effective treatment options.
Orthodontics is not excluded from this tide of change. Today, the technology available to orthodontists is far more superior and sophisticated than what was available a few decades ago.
The paradigm shift from manual diagnostic tools to digital technologies has been the more profound one to witness. Credited to large-scale changes made to the orthodontic market, the industry stands at a value of $53 million in 2022. A recent report published by Market Watch suggests that this value is set to increase in the following years.
According to the report, the orthodontic market will likely reach a value of $76 million by 2026. This means that the industry will be growing at a CAGR of 5.4% for the next 6 years. In these years, North America will remain the largest contributor to the overall growth.
The technology currently being used for orthodontic treatments is already underway for further progress and improvements. In order to include improved technologies in our practice and provide patients improved and effective treatment, it’s crucial to stay up to date with what’s new in the orthodontic industry.
Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT)
Conventional CT and x-ray devices have their limitations. While both have been pivotal in the advancement of orthodontic diagnostics and treatments, they produce two-dimensional images. This limits the orthodontist’s ability to view a patient’s dental structure.
The solution lies within 3D technology is called Cone Beam Computed Tomography. It allows orthodontists to view the patient’s dental structure in three-dimensional images. They can see the teeth, the skull, jaw, and the oral bone structure in its entirety.
When it comes to diagnostics, this technology facilitates detailed imagery. This way, the orthodontist can find and diagnose the issue more accurately. CBCT also reduces the amount of scatter radiation as it uses a more focused beam, unlike regular CT devices.
Cephalometry is the study of the growth, morphology, and structure of the head. In orthodontics, it allows the dentists to study and evaluate dental and cranial structures to detect any anomalies that suggest a potential dental problem.
While conventional cephalometry remains unchanged, the increased usage of computers in orthodontic diagnosis has made digital cephalometry a viable option. There are many benefits that digital cephalometry offers. For instance, it allows the orthodontist to see the image through the software while the patient is in the chair.
TAD or Temporary Anchorage Devices
Progress and advancement in orthodontics are not limited to technology that improves diagnostics. There have been developments that allow for better utilization of tools for treatment. Temporary anchorage devices are one such example. These surgical-grade screws are made of titanium and are used for oral surgery.
These can be considered as mini dental implants that are inserted in the jaw bone for a limited time. Unlike regular Dental implants,these don’t have to fuse with the bone. These are used to control the movement of teeth around the anchor.
The procedure for getting TADs is minimally invasive and relatively pain-free. The mini-screw is inserted into the jaw bone with a small amount of numbing cream applied to the treatment area. Once it has done its job, the TAD is removed with ease.
SureSmile – Customized Smiles
Cone Beam Computed Tomography allows orthodontists to see a patient’s oral and cranial structure in the form of digital images. Adding the technicalities of treatment planning software and robots for creating arch wires, you have the SureSmile system.
The 3D images from CBCT allow the orthodontists to create 3D smiles on the computer before beginning the treatment. This allows the patient to see the results before the treatment begins, making necessary adjustments for a customized smile.
The virtual smile will then be translated into a software program that gives the best possible route to achieve that smile. The robot then uses that information to create and bend arch wires for accurate placement.
Clear Braces and Invisalign
Invisible aligners and braces have changed the face of orthodontic care. While conventional braces with brackets and ligatures are still very much in use, they are often a point of dread for the patient. There is a lot of effort required to move the patient’s teeth in place, which causes pain and discomfort for long periods of time. Also, the aesthetics of the chunky brackets and wires are not well-loved.
Today, self-ligating and clear braces and aligners offer a better solution. Patients can opt for clear ceramic braces to make them more inconspicuous and aesthetically pleasing. Or they can choose Invisalign, which is a clear aligner that you can use as you need. They are barely visible and still straighten the teeth, improve alignment, and improve slight overbites. In addition to clear braces and aligners, conventional metal braces have also become sleeker.
These trends or advancements in the field of orthodontics are only at the tip of the iceberg. There are many other ways that technology has facilitated improvements. With ongoing research and development of better dentist dental supplies tools, there is a lot of potential for orthodontics to improve further.
Having a basic understanding of the current and upcoming advancement will prepare you to care for new patients, ensuring their safety, comfort, and satisfaction.