Technology has orthodontists 'bracing' for the future

November 03, 2017 06:44 PM

Anyone who has worn braces to straighten their teeth knows about the molds necessary to plan the treatment. For many, that part of the process is awful. The mold material is gooey and can make you gag. Those molds are going the way of the steam engine thanks to computers.

Jan Adjara is learning how to manage her Invisilign braces -- the type of braces you don't see and can remove. They're perfect for adults. However, before Adjara slips the appliance into her mouth, she needed to be carefully measured so the braces would fit and do their job. That meant enduring a mold filled with an epoxy-like material to create a form the orthodontist would work from.

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"Like a gooey substance, kind of felt like Playdoh, or like gum, really," she described.

The memory of that sensation was enough to make Audrey Iriarte think twice about getting braces again. She wore them as a kid, but as often happens, her teeth shifted in adulthood.

"I remember it being really sticky and just really not a pleasant experience," she explained.

However, times have changed and with them came the advent of computerized technology in the dental office.

"I came in because I heard there was a new technology, this new scanning technology and I heard it was a much easier process," pointed out Iriarte.

It's computer assisted design. In just a few minutes, the digital scanner, called the iTero Element, takes all the pictures necessary to plan orthodontic or other restorative treatment. The orthodontist can easily follow treatment progression as the scans are stored and can be compared. It's like having a magic wand waved over your teeth.

"We're able to scan the teeth live, take a picture, show the people what their teeth look like. It aids in diagnosing, it aids in treatment planning. It aids in helping bring to light for patients what exactly is going on in their mouth and what we're going to aim to treat," explained Dr. Sergey Berenshteyn, an orthodontist.

No more gooey stuff that can gag you - which might cause you to move and necessitate redoing the mold.

"The truth is it's just better now. It's better because there's less errors," explained Berenshteyn.

With less error, there's improved fit and less chair-time - all adding up to savings, says Dr. Berenshteyn.

Braces are more than just improving appearance. They can help overall oral health.

"The improved function, I think, makes a very big difference. There are people who come in, who are very young, they've never had orthodontic treatment and their teeth are worn down, they have a lot of crowding or spacing, they have food stuck between the teeth, they have damage to the gums," noted Berenshteyn.

Now, no more worries about the prep work to get that healthy smile.


Benita Zahn

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