More and more frequently you see children, teenagers and even adults wearing orthodontic devices. Because today, having dental imperfections corrected has become part of our own self-image, even if it means temporarily wearing 'braces' that can be seen when we laugh or smile. In most cases there are medical indications for such measures, which aim to facilitate proper masticatory function. In addition, orthodontic treatments can prevent prospective problems that may later arise, such as temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD). But orthodontic treatments are also motivated by the patient's wish for a more "attractive smile".
Treatments with 'braces' are the most commonly known method. These braces are bonded to the labial surfaces of the teeth. In the course of the treatment various different shapes of ligature wire are then guided into the slots on the braces. These wires apply pressure and tension to the teeth, repositioning them as desired in line with the aims of the treatment. There is however another variation of this treatment method in which the braces are hidden from view: lingual orthodontics. With this treatment the braces are bonded to the lingual surfaces of the teeth. This has the aesthetic advantage that the braces and the ligature wire cannot be seen. Furthermore, decalcification occurs to a lesser extent on the lingual surfaces than on the labial surfaces. The mechanical effect of these dental braces is significant: this positioning of the braces and the insertion of the ligature wire in the slots means the pressure and tension on the teeth has a particularly effective impact.
This treatment method too is given added impetus through digital processes. The positioning of the teeth can be captured using an intra-oral scanner and then depicted using specialised software. And with this, digital representations of the treatment goal can be created and matched with data on malocclusions. Torque and angulation can also be more easily determined using digital technology.
Lingual orthodontic braces are now widely digitally manufactured - and precisely matched to the progression of the individual patients lingual tooth geometry. Ligature wires are also formed precisely using digital technology - following treatment steps. Braces can be applied to the teeth properly and in the correct positions using CAM manufactured trays in which the braces are positioned.
Depending on the scope of the treatment this can also be carried out using transparent and therefore less visible trays. Using the so-called "aligner therapy" various trays, which are calculated and manufactured using computers, are used to apply pressure to the teeth one after another, bringing them into the desired position. Each tray is worn for approximately two weeks and then replaced by the next, slightly modified tray. The trays are replaced continuously until the desired treatment objective is achieved. This technology has become better established predominantly due to the possibilities of digital technology in orthodontic practice: it was made possible by digital radiographic methods and teeth scans. In addition, the results of treatment can be anticipated using the best possible indicators - with software specially designed to meet the needs of orthodontic practice.
Alongside supporting orthodontic treatments and creating orthodontic equipment, digital technology has additional benefits: firstly, it facilitates communication between those providing treatment, dental technicians and, when required, production centres. Secondly, it reduces the amount of documentation required by the long-term storage of models used to represent treatment processes. Digital treatment data can be saved much more conveniently and is easily accessible when needed.
"The technical and digital innovations in orthodontics and their relation to the interdisciplinary collaboration between dentists, orthodontists, physiotherapists and dental technicians will further strengthen orthodontics" said Dr Markus Heibach, Executive Director VDDI (Association of German Dental Manufacturers). He continued: "Acceptance of orthodontic devices has increased not least because they have become more delicate and therefore less visible. For trade visitors interested in orthodontics, the International Dental Show, the leading trade fair for dentistry and dental technology, taking place in Cologne from 10 to 14 March 2015, is therefore worth the trip. Here you can extensively exchange ideas with specialists from exhibiting companies as well as with experienced users about current procedures and the latest developments in orthodontics.
IDS takes place in Cologne every two years and is organised by the GFDI Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Dental-Industrie mbH, the commercial enterprise of the Association of German Dental Manufacturers (VDDI) and staged by Koelnmesse GmbH, Cologne.