Name: Digital tools and solutions for Orthodontics

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Diagnostics, therapy planning, therapy and aftercare – these are the four classic pillars of orthodontics, but the tools and solutions are changing.

Above all digital strategies have sustainably changed this specialized discipline in recent years.

Today, the following trends apply for orthodontics as a whole:

* Every practice owner considers upgrading with digital technologies, the new founders rely on largely, if not completely, digitalized workflows from the outset.

* Analogue and digital 2D X-rays are being replaced by 3D X-rays.

* CT and MRT scans are also consulted, cases documented by digital photos or molded using the intra-oral scanner, patient data is digitally managed.

Digital or a mixture between analogue/digital methods can be implemented for planning the treatment (intra oral scan or digitalization of a plaster model).

Thanks to the trend towards more open formats and generally more open systems, inputting the molding data into the planning software becomes simpler and the entire planning becomes easier.

Particularly interesting here: A virtual set-up and also the design of orthodontic equipment is created based on purely virtual models.

To what extent, the dental technician is also involved and which tasks he is subsequently assigned with (i.e. printing physical models, manufacturing the equipment and finally the transfer tray) is handled very flexibly today.

The necessary data can be sent to and fro following the method the practice and laboratory have laid down as their optimal workflow. This also offers the specialized dental technician new opportunities.

Artificial Intelligence – piecing difficult things together
One cannot estimate today how high the share of artificial intelligence-based procedures, which are implemented in the orthodontic therapy in the future, will be.

Mid-term further software tools for the creation of set-ups or warnings against too extreme tooth movements are conceivable, because the database for the statistically reliable substantiation of these tools is constantly growing.

The piecing together of individual parts of more complex equipment still proves rather difficult from today’s standpoint. Here too the alternative of producing as much as possible in one piece using digital methods is being accorded greater importance.

Last, but not least it comes down to which of the many tasks of the orthodontic treatment the computer can take over with tangible cost advantages.

Aligner therapy using digital technologies
The therapy with aligners is as an example of the change brought about by digital technologies. It enfolds its benefits for example for the preparation of measures in the esthetic dentistry section (i.e. straight teeth as a prerequisite for applying veneer) and generally as an alternative for patients that find braces too noticeable.

It is not all that long ago and yet in the field of orthodontics it seems like an eternity. In the 1990s one worked in a conventional manner – with a manual set-up from the laboratory and deep-drawing aligners. Today, the intra oral camera or as an alternative to this the digitalization of a conventionally produced model in the extra oral scanner dominate the scene.

The entire planning can be done per monitor, several software systems are available for this purpose. For instance combinations between “intra oral cameras plus software”, very extensive variants (i.e. including the creation of individual attachments) and programs that can operated in a particularly intuitive way.

They use either the practice’s own printer or that of the dental technician’s laboratory or external service providers for the dental industry through to the pre-press for the 3D printing of physical sprocket models. The production of the aligners themselves usually occurs in the laboratory.

Depending on the design, a virtual target set-up is prescribed or interim targets are additionally defined. In this way, complex tooth movements can be sub-classified (i.e. in protrusion and rotation). Complex treatments are also possible (i.e. aligner treatment plus multi-bracket treatment in the opposing jaw).

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