Creating Dream Smiles

Dr Anton Bass explains how digital technology in orthodontic scan help people get closer to their dream smile.

What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the dental specialty of making better smiles by moving teeth and sometimes developing jaws, often using braces. It requires three to five 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, 3D software,3D 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 3D 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 3D digital model and tooth movements are accurately predicted. All of 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 required to achieve it all.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 asAlign, 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 3D 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 3D 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 on 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 afarOne 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 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 ofthe 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.