Going digital to optimise orthodontics – David Claridge UK CAD/CAM Specialist at Carestream DentalFeatured Products Promotional Features
Posted by: The Probe 8th February 2019
We all know that orthodontic cases present a variety of challenges. This is simply because every patient is different, and what will effectively work for one may not be the best choice for another.
Due to the complexity of the orthodontic field, achieving accurate impressions is vital in order to plan effective treatment and ensure that laboratories can create a precision fit orthodontic appliance. However, taking these impressions using conventional methods may be challenging, meaning going digital could be the way forward…
Precision in even the most challenging cases
Conventional impression materials have a number of pitfalls when it comes to accuracy. Not only are the materials prone to slumping or morphing, but the mould can sometimes break or tear upon removal, rendering the impression defunct.
On the other hand, digital scanners have revolutionised the impression taking process by providing accuracy that is simply impossible to achieve via conventional means. Many leading intraoral scanners are even able to supply extra information when creating a 3D digital mock up of the oral cavity, allowing professionals to alter and refine the digital files to make certain details such as soft tissue margins clearer.
Orthodontics for teenagers
It’s no surprise that teenagers remain the most popular age group to receive orthodontic treatment. It’s estimated that 10% of twelve year olds and 14% of fifteen year olds are currently receiving orthodontic treatment in the UK. Statistics also argue that although these are the percentages of children/teenagers currently receiving care, 45% of twelve year olds and 28% of fifteen year olds would like straighter teeth.
Of course, whilst teenage years are thought to be the best time to prescribe orthodontic treatments due to the natural adaptability of the jaw as it is developing, this does also raise specific challenges when it comes to taking impressions.
The first of these is that traditional impression materials can be highly unpleasant tasting or set off gag reflexes. Although older teenagers should be able to sit still during the important impression taking process, younger teens may move or be involuntarily unable to restrain their reactions of displeasure, and this can easily translate to inaccuracies in the resulting analogue impression. These impressions then have to be retaken, causing considerable distress and discomfort.
Digital intraoral scanners completely bypass the need for conventional impression materials and therefore are arguably a much better method for younger patients. Many modern intraoral scanners also feature continuous scanning modes meaning that they can detect areas of the scan with missing data so they can be quickly recaptured – perfect for patients with shorter attention spans.
Orthodontics for adults
Recent years have proven that orthodontic treatment amongst adults is on the rise. In fact, it’s estimated that 75% of orthodontists have seen an increase in adult patients and this trend is likely to continue.
Although treating adults with orthodontic appliances shouldn’t raise any problems regarding their behaviour, adult cases may be more complex than treatment in children because growth is not working on the orthodontist’s side. This means that surgery may be required in order to reach the patient’s desired aesthetics in some cases. Furthermore, adults may have any number of existing features such as old extraction sites, crowns and other restorative solutions that children are unlikely to have, and these too can impact treatment efficacy.
As such, digital intraoral scanners can help to tackle these problems by offering a more comprehensive and detailed view of the oral cavity. Better accuracy of impressions will mean better treatment outcomes, especially in complex cases.
Helping to increase treatment acceptance
As some orthodontic solutions can be expensive and complicated, patients may find this overwhelming and therefore reject proposed treatment. Conventional impression materials might even add to this rejection, due to the potential discomfort.
Intraoral scanners are useful tools when it comes to boosting treatment acceptance. This is because digital impressions can instantly be used to create mock-ups, enabling patients to better understand how and why treatment can help them. Some scanners even create digital models that can be used to explore a number of treatment pathways, meaning that patients can see the different options clearly and are more likely to choose one that suits them.
The CS 3600 intraoral scanner from Carestream Dental is particularly suited to orthodontic cases. Featuring CS Model+ software, the scanner allows professionals to evaluate digital models and simulate available treatment plans in minutes. Furthermore, the scanner also features a number of innovative interchangeable tips – perfect for treating those with smaller mouths in the case of children, or those who have extreme crowding.
An easier way
Orthodontics is a diverse, nuanced field that can often present some incredibly difficult challenges. By switching from conventional impression materials to digital solutions, you can help to optimise your patient care.
For more information, contact Carestream Dental on 0800 169 9692 or
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Kumar, D., Madihalli, A., Reddy, K., Rastogi, N., Pradeep, N. Elastomeric Impression Materials: A Comparison of Accuracy of Multiple Pours. Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice. 2011;12(4):272-278.
Burgess, J., Lawson, N., Robles, A. Comparing Digital and Conventional Impressions. Inside Dentistry. 2013; 9(11). Link: https://www.aegisdentalnetwork.com/id/2013/11/comparing-digital-and-conventional-impression-materials [Last accessed October 18].
Statista. Share of Children Wanting their Teeth Straightened and Already in Orthodontic Treatment in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2013, by Age. Link: https://www.statista.com/statistics/417918/children-receiving-orthodontic-treatment-in-united-kingdom/ [Last accessed October 18].
Centre for Dentistry. Adult Orthodontic Treatment on the Rise. Link: https://www.centrefordentistry.com/adult-orthodontic-treatment-on-the-rise/ [Last accessed October 18].
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