Digital Interdisciplinary Treatment Planning in Orthodontics

The Role of Digital Interdisciplinary Treatment Planning in Improving Orthodontic Care

June 29, 2021

Orthodontics is among the most in-demand fields of dentistry. A study from the National Institutes of Health estimates that only 35% of adults in the U.S. have well-aligned bites. This data shows us that a significant number of people have some type of malocclusion and will need to undergo proper orthodontic treatment.

Given how prevalent teeth and jaw alignment problems are, interdisciplinary treatment planning cases benefit significantly from the inclusion of orthodontic care. A collaborative approach to dentistry has now become essential to provide patients with the treatment they need, and digital technology has opened the doors for orthodontics to be involved in these cases.


Interdisciplinary Treatment Planning: Providing Better Patient Care Through Collaboration

Instead of referring patients to specialists, an increasing number of general practitioners opt for interdisciplinary treatment planning with their in-house team. Collaborative care has long been practiced in the dental industry, typically for cases that involve the need for different specialties and disciplines.

With interdisciplinary treatment planning, all dental team members are active collaborators, from administrative workers to specialists. Embracing this approach can allow dental professionals to optimize and execute individualized and comprehensive treatment plans.

Improving patient care is the ultimate goal of interdisciplinary treatment planning. This approach allows everyone involved in the patient’s treatment process to be aware of all relevant data and progress, ensuring that everyone is working toward the same outcome.


How Digital Technology Enables Interdisciplinary Treatment Planning

The dental industry has seen the rise of various new technologies, such as 3-D imaging, digital impressions, CAD/CAM technology, and more. Digital technology has not only opened doors for greater automation and lower margins of error in dental treatment; it has also paved the way for more effective interdisciplinary treatment planning.

Interdisciplinary treatment planning teams utilize digital technology to facilitate the flow of information between dentists, specialists, and even dental laboratories. With better communication, different disciplines can cooperate with greater ease and efficiency.

Forward-thinking dentists use different available technologies to get an accurate and reliable assessment and diagnostic information to pass on to other members of their interdisciplinary treatment planning team. Although technology cannot replace the clinicians’ knowledge and risk assessment skills, these various digital tools can speed up the processes and provide consistent clinical results.


Digital Interdisciplinary Treatment Planning: Shaping the Future of Orthodontics

Over the last decade, what has been the most significant innovation in dentistry? Dr. Drew Ferris, a practicing orthodontist and director of the Santa Barbara Dental Study Group shared in a Benco webinar that he believed aligner technology to be the most notable advancement.

Aligners use a system of clear and removable trays to move misaligned teeth into their proper position when used as an alternative to traditional orthodontic treatments such as braces. Aligners have been instrumental in advancing innovation in intra-oral scanners and other digital impressions from a technological standpoint.


The Advantages of Aligner Technology

Provides Better Patient Care

Many patients prefer using aligners because of their functional and aesthetic advantages. Unlike metal braces and other traditional orthodontic appliances, aligners are invisible and help hide existing gaps in teeth.

Clear aligners are also removable, allowing patients more control over their eating and brushing habits. By including these in your practice, you can improve your patient care and give people more access to their preferred orthodontic treatment.

Less Invasive Treatment

Aligner technology has also provided a way for dentists to treat patients in a less invasive way. Traditionally, patients had to clamp their teeth down in alginate material to obtain impressions for crowns, veneers, and other orthodontic devices.

The digital impression technology used for aligners is not messy or invasive. Using a 3-D digital scan, dental professionals can quickly obtain imagery of the patient’s teeth size and shape, eliminating the discomfort of traditional impressions. A study by the NIH found that orthodontic patients preferred digital scans to the alginate materials.

Minimizes Risks

Compared to traditional orthodontic treatments, aligner technology also offers less risk. Since digital software can provide accurate models of a patient’s teeth and allow dentists to visualize and assess how the aligners will correct the malocclusions, it can minimize any potential risks of the treatment.


Merging Aligners and Interdisciplinary Treatment Planning

Clear aligner technology has revolutionized orthodontics, allowing dental professionals to innovate their practice from analog to digital platforms. It has provided better patient care, greater profitability, and more positive and consistent clinical outcomes for orthodontists.

In the age of digital dentistry, the need for interdisciplinary treatment planning has come to the forefront, especially for tackling complex dental cases. By combining digital resources with orthodontic aligners, treatment plans can be better visualized through the software. Thus, these make it easier for the interdisciplinary team to understand the patient’s status and progress throughout the treatment process.

Communication and dialogue between each interdisciplinary treatment planning team member are vital, from the initial set-up to the surgery to implant placement to the restorative therapies. Everyone involved in the treatment utilizes the same data obtained during the planning stage (usually involving CBCT, digital impressions, and virtual “wax-ups”) to work toward the same clinical outcome.

Learn More About Digital Interdisciplinary Treatment Planning in Orthodontics!

This article is only an overview of the advantages and capabilities of digital technologies in orthodontics. If you wish to learn more about this, as well as how removable aligner technology works in conjunction with interdisciplinary treatment, watch the Benco webinar “The Future of Ortho Is Clear: Digital Interdisciplinary Treatment Planning” with Dr. Drew Ferris.

Benco conducts valuable and educational webinars such as this every month. A few of our upcoming webinars include “Radiology Principles and Safety” with Tija Hunter and “Inspections & Audits & Fines Ohh My!!: Straight Answers & Insights from a Dental OSHA & HIPAA Expert” with Jill Obrachta. Reach out for more information!


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