What is Digital Orthodontics? Here is Everything You Need to Know!

by John Eshan

The field of dentistry has witnessed many fascinating developments of late. The advent of technology has positively influenced dentistry helping dentists offer an array of advanced treatment options. Orthodontics is one such branch of dentistry where conventional methods have been gradually replaced by effective treatment procedures. Correcting bad bites is no longer about oral health today.

People want perfect smiles that enhance their physical appearance and digital orthodontics is playing a major role in helping people perfect their pearly whites. If you have a bad bite, you should know that there are various tools and treatment techniques in orthodontics developed with the aid of technology.

Dentistry has evolved in line with people’s preference for comfort and convenience. Digital orthodontics is one such emerging trend widely adopted by dentists to cater to patients in a better, enhanced manner. If you have been wondering what exactly digital orthodontics is, let’s walk you through its applications and myriad benefits.

What is 3D Orthodontic Technology?

Orthodontics is embracing newer technologies and materials to facilitate shortened treatment procedures. Intraoral scanning, cone beam computed tomography, 3D printing and CAD/CAM systems are some of the technologies used in the field of orthodontics. Improved efficiency, accuracy, consistency and predictability of treatment outcomes are some of the major benefits of orthodontic technology.

If you are dealing with a bad bite, your orthodontist would diagnose the exact condition and take an impression of your teeth to straighten them with clear aligners, braces or expanders. Orthodontists traditionally take the impression of the teeth with the help of molds. Patient’s bite into a tray filled with the impression material so dentists can arrange for orthodontic appliances that perfectly fit into your mouth. But many dental professionals today have replaced traditional mold methods with 3D scanning methods. Dentists rely on digital scanners today to get accurate impressions of teeth.

Traditional mold technique is quite often messy and uncomfortable and the impression may not be 100% accurate. Digital scanning saves a great deal of time and helps with devising an accurate treatment plan. As the chair time is reduced, digital scanning is admired by patients with busy schedules. Plus, patients don’t have to deal with sensitive gag reflexes. Orthodontic appliances created with digital impressions are more accurate and fit snugly in the mouth.

Common Conditions that Can be Treated with 3D Technology

Braces and aligner solutions are the answer to most orthodontic conditions. Here’s a list of common conditions that can be treated with 3D orthodontic technology:

  • Crooked teeth
  • Overbite
  • Open bite
  • Underbite
  • Crossbite
  • Crowding
  • Spacing
  • Impacted teeth
  • Protrusions

CT scans, 3D laser scanning, vision-based scanning, 3D orthognathic surgery planning, intraoral scanning, MRI and surface scanning, video imaging or 4D scanning are some of the 3D imaging systems used to obtain detailed diagnostic information.

Important Things to Know about Digital Orthodontics

Digital orthodontics offers numerous benefits both for the dentists and patients. Since the advent of digital orthodontics, patients find the treatment process more enjoyable. Listed below are a few things you need to know about digital orthodontics:

3D Imaging is More Comfortable and Reduces Chair Time

Digital scanning enables more precise measurements of teeth. The dentist will capture the impression by moving a small wand inside the mouth. There are no gooey materials with unpleasant taste. Digital scanning is a cleaner and more comfortable method of scanning the teeth. Patients often feel nauseous when they come in contact with the goopy alginate material. Digital scanning helps get rid of the sticky material and conduct scanning in the most effortless manner possible.

Digital Dentistry Facilitates Faster Treatments

Digital scanning provides an accurate map of the mouth. The scanning process previously involved putty molds. While patients would bite into the tray, dentists have to wait until the mold dries to start with the treatment plan.

Many patients struggle with the traditional scanning procedure as the putty tastes unpleasant. The impression obtained during the first time may not be satisfactory which means the patient has to go through the process all over again. However digital scanning easily eliminates such hassles. Images can be obtained within a few minutes post scanning. The dentist can start devising the treatment plan right away by referring the images in hand.

It Guarantees Uncompromised Precision and Accuracy

The curves and contours of the teeth must be captured precisely to diagnose the condition correctly. With digital scanning, there is no scope for misdiagnosis. The computerised images give a full view of the inside of the mouth, enabling dentists to rightly identify the dental condition.

Teeth and gum structures can be viewed with more precision which means dentists can suggest the most appropriate treatment plan. The images are detailed enough to pinpoint any minor irregularities helping patients avoid any serious consequences in future. The digital scans can be saved for future reference so all information pertaining to patient history is backed up safely.

Digital Orthodontics Results in Improved Efficiency

Quick diagnosis is one of the most important benefits of digital orthodontics. When orthodontists are in a position to diagnose dental problems efficiently, they have more time to dedicate for treatments.

Digital technology equips orthodontists with necessary tools for faster diagnosis. While traditionally dentists had to spend more time just on diagnosis, the advent of new technology has helped dentists focus on devising treatment plans and treat more patients in less time.

Customized Treatment Plans can be Designed for Each Patient

Armed with precise images of the teeth structure, orthodontists can come up with customized treatment plans for patients. Each patient’s needs are unique and dentists can create personalized treatment plans with the latest technologies. Patients can be shown how their teeth might look post treatment. There is better clarity about the treatment for both the dentist and the patient. Dentists can create highly customized plans with all the patient data they have in hand.

It’s an Eco-Friendly Treatment Solution

Digital records eliminate the need for paper making digital orthodontics an eco-friendly treatment solution. Plus, the plastic trays used to take impressions are also replaced with digital scanning methods contributing to a plastic-free environment.

Final Thoughts

For patients dealing with dental anxiety, digital orthodontics is a savior since the chair time is significantly reduced. Treatments are speedier and more comfortable with digital orthodontics. There is no need to make arrangements for physical space to store digital models. Digital models, unlike the traditional goopy alginate, don’t chip or break. Dentists need not worry about sending the delicate models to the lab.

The impression file can be instantly sent to the lab for 3-D printing. Faster lab turnover is one of the important benefits of digital orthodontics. The digital orthodontics market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 11.10% to reach US$12.211 billion in 2026 (Source: Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence). Technologies like digital scanning lead to shorter waiting times. Dental practices employing advanced technology for precise positioning and evaluation of teeth is preferred by patients over practices using the same old conventional methods.

Such technologies are especially beneficial for orthodontists with multi-location practices as patient experience is enhanced exponentially with a streamlined process from start to finish. Going ahead, we shouldn’t be surprised if digital orthodontics takes the centre stage in the overall orthodontics landscape.

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