Orthodontics has been in the ambit for achieving better oral health for much longer than most people realise.
From the modernity view, its first traces appeared as early as 1000BC.
Archaeologists have recovered oral devices used during that period by the Etruscans to stop the teeth collapsing inward after death, so that a fruitful and comfortable after-life could be attained. Ancient Egyptians used catgut ligatures that could be tightened, in principally the same way contemporary orthodontists use wire to move and straighten teeth.
The remains of ancient Romans uncovered often have the remnants of gold wire entwined around teeth.
It’s proof that for a long time, humans have understood the value of having a healthy mouth. Life then, as now, is considered replete when teeth are complete.
French dentist Christophe-Francois Delabarre (1784-1862) developed the orthodontic braces we’re most familiar with in 1819; the French were most dedicated to dentistry in the 1700s. They had already been removing wisdom teeth to treat overcrowding by then, and custom mouthguards were in use.
It took American Edward Hartley Angle (1855-1930) to specialise in orthodontics.
He spent his entire professional life developing treatments, and teaching and standardising the procedures. It’s this pursuit of perfection that earned him the recognition of being the father of this branch of dentistry.
It was Angle’s genius that created order from chaos in the study and the successful treatment of positional discrepancies of teeth; and the further effects on the jaws and face.
His innovations were of great advantage public health. Particularly his identification of dental occlusion as a primary dental concern, rather than simply tooth irregularity being an issue.
Along with disseminating the world’s first specialty training programme, Angle created an uncomplicated classification system for occlusal conditions, and introduced prefabricated orthodontic appliances.
It was the adoption of these pioneering developments that marked the beginning of improved patient outcomes. Orthodontry continues to make advances in treatments with the industry embracing the benefits of 3D-imaging and AI to automate time-consuming and tedious tasks.
In fact, because of the power of proprietary algorithms, processes that once took 90 minutes or more, can now be completed in less than five.
With this integration of AI comes the better use of the clinical expertise of orthodontists. Its proficiency not just brings significant developments, but allows and encourages the broadening of skills, and deeper knowledge and understanding.
The artistry of AI is that it has the ability to quickly distil information from thousands and thousands of cases. It means that planning procedures and treatments for patients presenting complexities and variances, can be handled more easily than had ever been previously possible.
This new efficiency in specialist oral care has easy access to immediate and detailed answer for any professional queries provided by chatbots.
Without the option of AI, treatment plans rely on both the expertise, and the remote assistance of a technician to either structure the treatment, or modify an existing plan.
It’s a process that takes 24-to-48 hours for an initial response – which may then prompt further questions or adjustment explanations. It can take a number of weeks to complete overall – and that’s a time delay in treatment.
Chatbot assistance gives orthodontists and technicians real-time feedback and instant information. It vastly improves the quality, the proficiency, and the speed of diagnositics and communication, while reducing the opportunity for human error.
It’s technology that will soon have the capacity to complete tasks that would ordinarily require some type of manual intervention or input from the clinician. Freeform instruction will instigate an exchange with the bot, that may even require a number of clarifications before being dynamically applied in real time.
Deep learning means that AI in orthodontics will also be able to make treatment plan or clinical procedure observations, and suggest methods of improvement.
Patients are not overlooked in the advantages of AI.
It provides highly useful visual aids and individually tailored explanations of why, how and where teeth will be moved. It gives an accurate timeline for the desired end result.
Research shows that patients having this clearer understanding of their dental issues along with the solutions available to them makes for better, more conversant decisions.
Not only does this support and nurture heightened communication between practitioner and patient, it’s a confidence that is further expressed in unwavering treatment compliance.
If the expert knowledge of how to move teeth isn’t remarkable enough, accelerated orthodontics is all that, only faster.
Patients are afforded another choice with the techniques of micro-osteoperforation and low-level laser therapy. In combination with high frequency vibration devices, bone remodelling results. The rate of tooth movement increases, and treatment timelines significantly contract.
Another shortened treatment of the latest dental technologies is robotic orthodontics. It’s human-computer interactive.
Malocclusion is the third largest oral disease in the world, with the most effective treatment being fixed orthodontics.
A key component to its success, is archwire bending. Because of the combined rigidity and the super pliability of orthodontic wire, exceptional, precision manual skill is required in order to do this. It demands extensive chairside time, and accuracy is exclusively due to the treating practitioner.
Programming robotic archwire bending overcomes these shortcomings.
It increases accuracy, avoids incidental errors, and decreases both the physical discomfort of the patient, and the fatigue of the orthodontist.
Predictably, braces can routinely be removed sooner.
Comfortable, streamlined options also include self-ligating brackets.
These brackets have built-in clips that hold the archwire, eliminating the need for elastic or metal ligatures. They’ve gained popularity because they apply a gentler, more constant force, which is less painful than the regular tightening required by contemporary braces.
Some self-ligating brackets include smart technology that monitors the progress of each tooth movement. This allows orthodontists to make real-time adjustments; optimising the treatment in a way that was never before possible.
Considerable orthodontic advancements are not confined to process and procedure; it extends to materials. The upgrading of ceramics and clear plastics makes them favoured alternatives to traditional metal wires and brackets.
Dentistry and orthodontics are often considered standalone, separate disciplines when oral care is completely entwined with the rest of the body.
Each development and progression in orthodontry with augmented tools, treatments, materials and data, has it becoming more cost effective for more people in need, or want of straighter teeth and a smile of which they can be proud.
Regenerative dentistry is a rapidly evolving field. It will positively impact orthodontic techniques, which in turn, will create better general health for many.
What a remarkable movement that will be: advancing the quality, and the equality of peoples’ lives.