Orthodontics technology has indeed come a long way. From the traditional and very mechanical technologies of the last decades to the 3-D printer, orthodontics is gaining ground like many health-related fields. Now, the field has ventured into data analytics and digital scanning to further perfect orthodontic devices, appliances, and services.
From just simple trends, these technologies have become the norm of the industry. They have allowed for better tools and practices to emerge and, hence, simplified the efforts and methods of the trade.
While there are countless orthodontic technologies one can find with a simple web search, particularly with digital modeling, there are a few that really made such an impact on practitioners.
Digital models have not only put evaluation in three dimensions and improved storage, but they have also made diagnosis easier.
Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT)
The 3-D images produced by CBCT, from the jaw to the entire skull, show a more precise picture of the patient’s symptoms. Being able to manipulate such images to see every angle possible is enough to guide planning as well as evaluation.
CBCT has been known to be very crucial in studying cases such as impacted teeth, joint issues, skeletal asymmetries, and airway problems.
Since CBCT can render images in 3-D, a volumetric analysis can be done. More so, CBCT can be used in evaluating the inclination of the teeth and even the bones that support them.
Through the transverse and anteroposterior dimensions, the images produced can show the whole structure’s changes. Other methods that use CBCT are evaluation of issues with the midpalatal suture and the anterior teeth.
Fairly new, intraoral scanning is a huge growth area in digital orthodontics. Intraoral scanners can produce results as good as those made through alginate impressions.
These scanners usually employ triangulation, accordion fringe interferometry, and 3D in-motion video capturing, among others, when producing models. There are a number of benefits of intraoral scanners. One can do fewer impression retakes. Patient comfort can also be enhanced.
It is easier to get digital models if used via intraoral scanning techniques. Also, practitioners note that these scanners enable them to cut the time spent between their appointments, from the production of the digital models to the fabrication of the appliance.
This is another new approach used in digital orthodontics. The stereolithographic (STL) files can actually be used to print 3-D models.
Besides stereolithography, other related methods used are fused deposition modeling, PolyJet photopolymerization, and digital light processing. Orthodontic laboratories have the option to print models at a lower cost.
But with the fast-rising popularity of 3-D printing, the accrued costs in printing and fabrication processes are expected to be reduced significantly. 3-D printing is viewed as a more efficient way to create appliances.
As such, its development is somewhat similar to the rise of CBCT and intraoral scanners in the industry.
Digital orthodontics is sure to bask on the overflow of digital technology in the health sciences. To come up with precisely rendered images, it can use powerful scanners.
To model and print them quickly, it can use 3-D-print-ready photogrammetric files. Truly, digital modeling is changing the face of orthodontics technology.