A Closer Look at Digital Mold Technology
Digital mold technology, also known as digital impression technology or intraoral scanning, is a technology used in orthodontics to create a digital replica of a patient’s teeth and oral structures. Instead of using traditional physical molds or impressions, a digital scanner is used to capture a highly accurate 3D image of the patient’s teeth and gums.
Here’s how digital mold technology works in orthodontics:
- Scanning: The orthodontist or dental professional uses a handheld wand-like device equipped with a digital scanner. The scanner emits a safe light source, such as lasers or structured light, to capture detailed images of the patient’s teeth and oral structures. The wand is moved around the mouth, capturing multiple images from different angles.
- Image Processing: The images captured by the scanner are processed by specialized software, which stitches them together to create a complete and highly accurate 3D model of the patient’s teeth and gums. The software also enhances the images, removing any artifacts or errors to ensure a precise digital replica.
- Virtual Model: Once the 3D model is created, it can be viewed and manipulated on a computer screen. Orthodontists can use specialized software to analyze the model, measure tooth positions, and plan the orthodontic treatment. The virtual model can be used for various orthodontic applications, including treatment planning, appliance design, and simulations of treatment outcomes.
Digital mold technology offers several advantages over traditional physical molds:
- Increased Patient Comfort: Digital scanning eliminates the need for traditional impressions, which can be messy and uncomfortable for patients. The wand used in digital scanning is non-invasive and causes minimal discomfort.
- Improved Accuracy: Digital scanning provides highly accurate and detailed 3D models of the patient’s teeth and oral structures. This precision allows orthodontists to plan and execute treatments more accurately, leading to better outcomes.
- Time Efficiency: Digital scanning is generally faster than traditional impressions, reducing chair time for patients. Additionally, the digital models can be easily shared electronically with dental laboratories or other specialists, streamlining the communication process.
Overall, digital mold technology has revolutionized orthodontics by providing orthodontists with a more precise and efficient tool for treatment planning and execution, improving patient experience and treatment outcomes.
Five Ways Orthodontists Are Saving Time
Orthodontists are leveraging various innovations and technologies to save time and enhance efficiency in their practice. Here are five ways orthodontists are saving time with innovation and technology:
- Digital Impressions: Digital mold technology, as mentioned earlier, eliminates the need for traditional physical impressions, which can be time-consuming. By using digital scanners, orthodontists can quickly capture accurate 3D models of patients’ teeth and gums, reducing the time spent on impression-taking and improving overall efficiency.
- Treatment Planning Software: Advanced treatment planning software allows orthodontists to digitally analyze and simulate treatment outcomes. By using virtual models and specialized software, orthodontists can efficiently plan and visualize the treatment process, saving time that would have been spent on manual calculations and physical models.
- Accelerated Orthodontic Techniques: Innovations such as micro-perforations and vibrational devices, like Propel® and AcceleDent®, can help accelerate tooth movement and reduce treatment time. These techniques allow orthodontists to achieve desired results more quickly, saving both the orthodontist’s and the patient’s time.
- Remote Monitoring and Teledentistry: With the advent of telecommunication technology, orthodontists can remotely monitor patients’ progress and make necessary adjustments without requiring in-person visits for every routine check-up. Through remote monitoring and teledentistry platforms, orthodontists can save time by focusing on patients who need more attention or interventions, while others can have virtual check-ins.
- Practice Management Software: Orthodontists can streamline administrative tasks and enhance practice efficiency with the help of practice management software. These software solutions offer features like appointment scheduling, patient record management, billing, and treatment progress tracking. By automating these tasks, orthodontists can save time and dedicate more attention to patient care.
These are just a few examples of how orthodontists are leveraging innovation and technology to save time in their practice. By embracing these advancements, orthodontists can enhance efficiency, improve patient experience, and focus more on delivering high-quality orthodontic care.
Choosing an Ortholab: Here’s What to Consider
When choosing an orthodontic lab, orthodontists should consider several factors to ensure they partner with a lab that meets their needs and expectations. Here are some important considerations:
- Quality and Expertise: The lab should have a reputation for delivering high-quality orthodontic appliances and products. Look for labs with experienced technicians who are skilled in orthodontic fabrication techniques. Ask about their quality control processes and certifications to ensure that they maintain a high standard of craftsmanship.
- Range of Services: Consider the services offered by the lab. Orthodontic treatments can involve various appliances, such as braces, retainers, aligners, and expanders. Ensure that the lab can provide a comprehensive range of orthodontic appliances that align with your treatment approach. If you have specific requirements, such as specialized appliances or materials, make sure the lab can accommodate them.
- Communication and Collaboration: Effective communication between the orthodontist and the lab is crucial for successful collaboration. Choose a lab that offers clear channels of communication, such as a dedicated account manager or online portal, to discuss cases, provide instructions, and address any concerns promptly. A lab that values collaboration and is responsive to your needs can significantly streamline the workflow.
- Turnaround Time: Consider the lab’s turnaround time for appliance fabrication and delivery. Efficient labs with quick turnaround times can help you maintain a smooth treatment process and meet patients’ expectations. However, be cautious of labs that promise unrealistically fast turnaround times, as it may compromise the quality of the products.
- Technology and Innovation: Evaluate the lab’s investment in technology and innovation. Orthodontic labs that embrace digital workflows, utilize CAD/CAM technology, or have in-house 3D printing capabilities can offer faster turnaround times, improved accuracy, and more customized appliances. Stay updated on emerging trends and inquire about the lab’s commitment to adopting new technologies.
- Pricing and Cost Transparency: While cost should not be the sole determining factor, it’s important to consider pricing and cost transparency. Compare prices among different labs while considering the quality of their work. Additionally, ensure that the lab provides clear pricing information and transparent billing practices to avoid surprises or hidden charges.
- References and Reviews: Seek feedback from other orthodontists who have used the lab’s services. Ask for references from the lab and check online reviews or professional forums to get insights into the lab’s reputation, customer satisfaction, and overall performance.
By carefully considering these factors, orthodontists can select an orthodontic lab that aligns with their needs, supports their treatment goals, and ensures a collaborative and efficient partnership.
Three Ways to Reduce Chairside Adjustments
Reducing chairside adjustments is a goal for orthodontists to enhance efficiency and minimize treatment time. Here are three ways orthodontists can work towards reducing chairside adjustments:
- Accurate Treatment Planning: Thorough and accurate treatment planning is crucial to minimize chairside adjustments. Utilize advanced treatment planning software and digital technologies to simulate and visualize the treatment outcomes before starting the actual treatment. This allows orthodontists to anticipate any potential issues, make necessary adjustments in the treatment plan, and reduce the need for extensive chairside modifications.
- Precise Bracket Placement: Proper bracket placement is essential to ensure optimal tooth movement during orthodontic treatment. Using advanced tools and techniques, such as computer-guided bracket placement or indirect bonding, orthodontists can achieve more accurate bracket positioning. Precise bracket placement reduces the likelihood of bracket repositioning or adjustments during subsequent appointments, saving chairside time.
- Effective Communication and Patient Compliance: Clear communication with patients regarding treatment expectations, oral hygiene, and compliance with instructions can significantly reduce chairside adjustments. Educate patients on proper care and maintenance of orthodontic appliances, including avoiding behaviors that can cause damage or misalignment. Encourage regular follow-up appointments and reinforce the importance of adhering to scheduled visits for adjustments or progress monitoring.
By focusing on accurate treatment planning, precise bracket placement, and promoting patient compliance, orthodontists can minimize chairside adjustments and optimize treatment efficiency. This allows for a smoother treatment process and a more satisfying experience for both the orthodontist and the patient.
Three Things You Should Know About Intraoral Scanning
Orthodontists should be aware of several important aspects related to intraoral scanning, which is the process of digitally capturing 3D images of a patient’s teeth and oral structures. Here are three key things orthodontists should know:
- Advantages and Benefits: Intraoral scanning offers several advantages over traditional physical impressions. Orthodontists should be familiar with the benefits of intraoral scanning, such as improved patient comfort by eliminating the need for messy impression materials, faster scan acquisition times compared to physical impressions, and increased accuracy and precision in capturing the 3D digital models of the teeth and oral structures.
- Workflow Integration: Orthodontists should understand how intraoral scanning can integrate into their practice workflow. This includes knowing the compatibility of the intraoral scanner with their existing software systems, treatment planning tools, and communication platforms. Integration with digital workflows allows for streamlined communication with labs, easy transfer of digital files, and efficient treatment planning and monitoring.
- Technique and Skill Development: Intraoral scanning requires proper technique and skill to achieve accurate and consistent results. Orthodontists should invest time in learning the correct scanning techniques, understanding the limitations of the scanner, and familiarizing themselves with the software used for image processing and manipulation. Regular training and practice can help orthodontists optimize their scanning proficiency and ensure high-quality digital models.
Additionally, orthodontists should stay updated on the advancements in intraoral scanning technology, including new features, improvements in accuracy, and expanded applications. By being knowledgeable about intraoral scanning, orthodontists can leverage its benefits effectively, integrate it into their practice, and provide enhanced patient care and treatment outcomes.
Printed Appliances, Metals, and Splints
In orthodontics, printed appliances, metals, and splints refer to specific types of orthodontic devices used for various purposes. Here’s an overview of each:
- Printed Appliances: Printed appliances, also known as 3D-printed appliances, are orthodontic appliances that are fabricated using additive manufacturing techniques, specifically 3D printing. These appliances are created by layering materials, typically resin or plastic, to build a three-dimensional object based on a digital model. Printed appliances can include retainers, aligner trays, splints, and other customized orthodontic devices. The use of 3D printing technology allows for precise customization, faster production times, and improved accuracy compared to traditional manufacturing methods.
- Metals: In orthodontics, metals are commonly used for the fabrication of various orthodontic appliances and components. Stainless steel and titanium are the most commonly used metals. Stainless steel is frequently used for braces, brackets, archwires, and other orthodontic accessories due to its strength, corrosion resistance, and biocompatibility. Titanium, known for its biocompatibility and lightweight nature, is often used in orthodontic implants, temporary anchorage devices (TADs), and orthodontic wires.
- Splints: Orthodontic splints, also called orthodontic retainers or appliances, are devices used to maintain tooth positions or provide stability after orthodontic treatment. They are typically custom-made for individual patients based on their specific treatment needs. Splints can be removable or fixed, and they help prevent tooth movement and ensure long-term stability of the teeth. Splints can be made of various materials, including acrylic, wires, and in some cases, 3D-printed resin or plastic.
These devices play essential roles in orthodontic treatment, helping to correct malocclusions, maintain treatment outcomes, and provide stability to the teeth and jaws. Orthodontists consider factors such as patient needs, treatment goals, and individual circumstances when choosing and utilizing these appliances, metals, and splints.
Here are a few links to older news and blog posts.
What’s the preferred method of 3D printing?
There are a lot of things to consider when purchasing a 3D printer, in fact too many to name here. One very important issue to consider is which type of 3D printing method would work best for your needs.
Here are the three most typical and popular ways in which 3D printers print: PolyJet, Stereolithography, and Fused Depostition Modeling.
So, which is best for Orthodontic Labs printing models for appliance fabrication? It all depends on who you ask!
For the Ortho Lab world, the prefered method seems to be the PolyJet method, as research shows the Stratasys Objet Orthodesk 30 Printer, which uses PolyJet technology, is in most small- and medium-sized Ortho labs, and can be found in some large labs as well.
Here is an explaination of the three — choose for yourself which you would prefer:
PolyJet 3D printing is similar to inkjet printing, but instead of jetting drops of ink onto paper, PolyJet 3D Printers jet layers of curable liquid photopolymer onto a build tray. The process is simple:
- Pre-processing: Build-preparation software automatically calculates the placement of photopolymers and support material from a 3D CAD file.
- Production: The 3D printer jets and instantly UV-cures tiny droplets of liquid photopolymer. Fine layers accumulate on the build tray to create a precise 3D model or part. Where overhangs or complex shapes require support, the 3D printer jets a removable gel-like support material.
- Support removal: The user easily removes the support materials by hand or with water. Models and parts are ready to handle and use right out of the 3D printer, with no post-curing needed.
3D printers that run on FDM Technology build parts layer-by-layer from the bottom up by heating and extruding thermoplastic filament. The process is simple:
- Pre-processing: Build preparation software slices and positions a 3D CAD file and calculates a path to extrude thermoplastic and any necessary support material.
- Production: The 3D printer heats the thermoplastic to a semi-liquid state and deposits it in ultra-fine beads along the extrusion path. Where support or buffering is needed, the 3D printer deposits a removable material that acts as scaffolding.
- Post-processing: The user breaks away support material or dissolves it in detergent and water, and the part is ready to use.
Also SLA or Stereolithography printers build parts layer-by-layer using a UV laser to solidify liquid photopolymer resins. It is commonly used to produce concept models, master patterns, large prototypes and investment casting patterns. SLA is gaining popularity in the Ortho lab printing world.
See stratasys.com for more info on 3D Printing and printers. Much of this article was based off info at stratasys.com
Why your practice should invest in new technology
Here is a great article regarding Digital Orthodontics and why any Orthodontic practice may want to invest in the technology!
*The article is from Orthodontic Products Online and written by Matt Hendrickson.
Training Training Training
It is a key part of any business to keep their employees knowledgeable about all aspects of their profession. For orthodontic labs, this means keeping technicians trained on the different methods of appliance construction and how to use the latest technology in the industry.
Here at Reserve Ortho Lab, we are currently cross training some of our technicians to be able to produce every part of every appliance we fabricate daily.
Continued training can be a time consuming part of keeping your business on top of its market; however, it is worth the time and effort. As a positive side effect of cross training your employees, you create more value in your technicians and they become an individual that is capable of doing anything in your laboratory at any time.
Reserve Ortho Lab currently trains many of our technicians in several different disciplines, such as pouring models, wire bending, and even into our Digital Orthodontics department. We believe that by training many of our technicians several different skills, we as a company become a better laboratory for your practice. We believe that we have an unbelievably knowledgeable staff that sets our laboratory apart from many others — which allows you to know that all of our technicians are trained exceptionally well and can help with any question or concern.
Just give us a call at 330-725-1192, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Good news for Digital Study Models
Good news about Digital Study models directly from the ABO website:
“For examinations conducted after January 2014 and for treatment initiated on or after June 1, 2013, digital pretreatment and allowable interim models will be acceptable only in universal file formats (PLY, STL, or OBJ) that are constructed according to ABO specifications.”
Reserve Ortho Lab creates Digital Study Models that adhere to the ABO standards. We use the latest software available which allows our Digital Study Models to be within the ABO standard.
The age of Digital Orthodontics is here
The 2013 annual AAO meeting in Philadelphia demonstrated very clearly that digital orthodontics has fully arrived. Reserve Ortho Lab was in Philadelphia for one specific reason, which was to see where digital ortho currently stands in our field.
Previous AAO meetings have demonstrated that the technology existed to have an all digital practice, or lab, with desktop 3D scanning and intraoral scanners. This allowed for digital study models to be produced, but did not make the entire treatment planning fully digital. It is clear that 3D printing is now at a practical stage and can be achieved by forward thinking labs, like ROL. Also, with the advancements in intraoral scanning taking the need for an alginate impression away, the treatment planning can be completely digitized — from scanning a patient’s mouth, to creating a digital study model, to virtual setups and treatment planning, to appliance designing, and printing a working 3D model from a .STL file, it’s all digital.
Soon, Reserve Ortho Lab can be your full service digital laboratory. This is the future of orthodontics, and we can help your practice become a part of it.
Why you should be using digital study models
Digital study models are all about the convenience it offers you. If you’re tired of the current issues that traditional plaster study models give you, problem solved! Going digital means that your study model files are easily stored by Reserve Orthodontic Laboratory on our offsite server where they are protected, secure, and backed up. Digital models has completely streamlined the retrieval of a current or past case. Digital study models are also a very cost effective way of cutting down your current study model costs — no more expensive storage facility fees, no more messes and costs that come with plaster. The viewing software is free and very easy to use and quick to download. The software is completely compatible with the most popular orthodontic and dental practice software in use today.
Reserve Orthodontic Laboratory has been offering digital study model service for almost a year, and we have had great success in bringing this new technology to our lab. We believe that as technology in the practice advances, we the lab must also advance; which is exactly why we have entered into the digital study model world. The best available software and scanning technology is currently in use at our lab — the 3shape R700 scanner and OrthoAnalyzer software are used to produce the study models.
So why wait? Join us in the digital study model revolution.
Spring Aligners as an alternative
A frequently asked question by clinicians and patients alike is, “How can I straighten teeth without wearing braces?”.
Often times, bracketing teeth is the only way some arches can be corrected; however, many doctors are choosing various removable appliance types to manage and correct many upper and lower anterior alignment issues.
Among the most popular designs are several acrylic and wire types which are viewed as a more traditional approach to align teeth. These appliances require resetting the teeth then fabricating an active acrylic and wire appliance which will move the teeth and gently correct rotations as time goes by. Simple rotations in anterior teeth can sometimes be corrected in a matter of days and the appliances can often times continue to be worn as a retainer to maintain the teeth in their corrected position.
Reserve Orthodontic Laboratory constructs several different designs utilizing the highest quality components available. It is also sometimes necessary to review space availability concerns, and alert doctors and patients that interproximal reduction between teeth — to relieve contact surfaces — is often required to facilitate tooth movement.
Please contact the laboratory to discuss the various options these appliances afford you and learn more about these and other alignment systems from one of our trained and talented technical support team members.