Let’s take a trip back in time. You hear the words “metal mouth” or “brace face” floating around the school halls. Your tooth is almost entirely covered by a metal band with a thick wire running through it. Your mouth is sore for days after adjustments. Headgear was your worst nightmare. The process was long, uncomfortable, and arduous.
Jumping back to present day, the world of orthodontics has drastically changed. Today’s orthodontist is digital. We use 3-D scanning producing thousands of little images that are combined to create a 3-D computer model. We use cone-beam images that allow us to view the roots and bone. We can combine this with facial imaging to produce a true 3-D virtual model of your teeth, roots, bones, jaw joints and soft tissues.
Today’s metal brackets are small and glued onto the teeth with a resin—most patients don’t even feel this part of treatment! Due to more active lifestyles, headgear is rarely utilized. Treatment options and processes are continually optimized resulting in faster and more effective results. A treatment plan that once had appointments every month for two years is now an appointment every six to eight weeks and my average patient is in braces less than 16 months, many less than 12. We are actively finding ways for patients to get the smile they deserve while spending their free time doing what they enjoy.
Orthodontic patients now have a plethora of treatment options to choose from depending on their personal preference and severity of the problem. One of the most popular choices is, of course, clear aligners such as Invisalign or SureSmile Aligners. Patients can also mix and match options. For example clear aligners on the top and braces on the bottom.
I feel it is a requirement of my job as an orthodontic specialist to stay updated on the most recent technology and processes. I spend many weekends at conferences and training sessions to ensure I’m offering my patients the best of what is available. In my spare time, I read journals or listening to audio tapes about the newest innovations in the orthodontic field. I must find the time for continuing education because if not, I’m not really practicing modern orthodontics. If you are interested in how technology has changed the world of orthodontics, grab a copy of my latest book, Going the Extra Smile: Merging Technology and Expertise for a Lifetime of Smiles.