Digital Smiles

by  Bass Orthodontics, For further information or a consultation, please contact Bass Orthodontics on 020 7580 8780 or or visit the website on  / Posted on

London-based orthodontist Dr Anton Bass, with over 15 years of experience, explains how digital technology in orthodontics is helping people get closer to their dream smile.

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the dental specialty of making better healthier smiles by moving teeth and sometimes developing jaws, often using braces. It requires 3 to 5 further years of specialist training after becoming a dentist to qualify as an orthodontist.

What is the latest digital technology in orthodontics?

Digital scanners, digital X-rays and photography, 3-D software, 3-D printers and remote monitoring have changed the way patients are diagnosed, planned and treated. A digital scanner is essentially a small camera which is scanned over the surfaces of the teeth, creating a very accurate 3-D digital model. This has almost completely replaced traditional impressions and plaster-cast models.

Diagnosis and treatment planning

The digital models, X-rays and photographs are used to work out the ideal healthy smile. The digital X-rays are combined with photographs of the face to design the most balanced smile for each patient, taking into account facial features, such as jaw positions and nose shape. The final tooth positions can be planned with a precision that was not previously possible, using digital planning software; the teeth are straightened by the orthodontist on the 3-D digital model and tooth movements are accurately predicted.

All this helps to achieve the optimum result in terms of cosmetics, long term health and function, as well as planning the best type of brace system in order to achieve this.

This also provides a way for patients to see the possible final smile result, which helps them make better informed decisions about the treatment.

One of the latest techniques in dentistry is known as Align, Bleach and Bond (ABB), which is the most conservative way to achieve the best smile when tooth shapes also need changing. The orthodontist and dentist can plan for the best result together using digital technology.

Brace construction

Brace systems are also constructed from the digital models using 3-D printers, including clear “invisible” aligners, orthopaedic braces and traditional fixed braces.

For aligner construction the orthodontist can straighten the teeth in the aligner software, which then generates a series of digital models. These are 3-D printed to make actual models of the teeth, which are used to make the aligners.

The result of the traditional fixed braces is highly dependent upon the positions of the orthodontic brackets on the teeth. The digital software allows the orthodontist to work out the best positions of the brackets and construct a positioning device for placing them.

Treatment from afar.

One of the latest developments in orthodontics is remote monitoring. Patients can use an app on their phone to scan their teeth using the phone’s camera. The teeth are monitored remotely by the orthodontist, using very advanced software, allowing appointments to be precisely planned around when the teeth are ready for the next adjustment. It also allows the orthodontist to monitor the health of the teeth and gums, check the braces and even advise the patients on the use of braces to keep the treatment moving forward at home.

This can reduce the number of visits to the clinic, minimising the need to take time off from work or school, and therefore making the orthodontic experience much more convenient.

The future

Now in development is taking the remote monitoring one step further so that patients can have retainers and even aligners made remotely and sent to them without leaving home.

The possibilities are endless…

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