From telehealth and virtual visits to intraoral scanners and treatment tracking apps, orthodontists and patients have more tools at their disposal than ever before – and that’s a good thing, because the path to a healthy smile is unique. Yet, all these choices can leave soon-to-be patients scratching their heads.
We spoke to Dr. Donna Stenberg, Board Certified orthodontist and member of 3M Oral Care Solutions Division global clinical team, about how she consults patients as they move through their treatment journey.
Dr. Stenberg explains the art of orthodontics to her patients this way: It’s a combination of how our teeth respond to pressure and the tools used to create that pressure. Teeth respond to pressure in a biologic way, whether braces or aligners are used. How that pressure is applied will be dictated by aligners or braces. Generally, braces apply pressure on the front part of the tooth (where braces attach) while aligners apply pressure by wrapping the full tooth crown. Dr. Stenberg points out: “Teeth don’t move in a vacuum. They move in relationship to each other. So, if you push a tooth to the left, the other tooth may go right.”
Dr. Stenberg credits the 3M Oral Care Portal’s Tx Designer for helping doctors and patients plan treatment: “It’s a great tool, allowing the patient to visualize potential outcomes. They’re amazed to see misaligned teeth move to aligned teeth.”
Braces - Metal or ceramic braces bond to the teeth and the orthodontist uses wires to apply pressure that makes teeth move.
Clear aligners - Through consistent pressure, each custom tray moves teeth towards the desired destination. 3M™ Clarity™ Aligners Flex + Force gives orthodontists the option to choose between two different aligner materials within a single treatment design.
Hybrid or combination treatment - Sometimes, orthodontists may want to use a combination of aligners and braces. These combination treatments can occur concurrently or consecutively. A patient may have one appliance, like aligners, on the upper arch and another appliance, like braces, on the lower arch – all at the same time. A patient may also start treatment with one appliance on both the upper and lower arches, then transition to a different appliance later. Orthodontists can leverage the 3M™ Tx Selector App to preview these options and help patients visualize what treatment could look like.
From colorfully cool to nearly invisible, patients have options when it comes to the preferred treatment look.
Thanks to digital tools like the 3M™ Tx Tracking App, orthodontists and patients can connect virtually. When it comes to aligners, Dr. Stenberg sometimes has virtual visits with patients to ensure their treatment is progressing properly.
On the path to a perfect smile, there is no one-size-fits all. Providing patients with options and communicating and staying connected to patients can help orthodontists offer a great experience and outcome.
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