Clear aligner treatment has gained significant popularity as a discreet and convenient solution for achieving straighter teeth. However, before diving into this innovative orthodontic option, it is essential to recognize the pivotal role of comprehensive diagnostics.
Diagnostic planning lays the foundation for successful clear aligner treatment, allowing orthodontists and well trained general practitioners to customize the treatment approach based on individual patient needs and ensure optimal results. In this blog post, we will explore why comprehensive diagnostics are of utmost importance and how they contribute to a seamless clear aligner journey.
The first step in comprehensive diagnostics involves a thorough evaluation of the patient's dental conditions. Comprehensive orthodontic diagnostics always include excellent extraoral and intraoral digital photos, a panoramic x-ray, intraoral x-ray of the anterior teeth in the maxilla and the mandible and an ideal IO scan of the teeth and the bite. Orthodontists and GP’s with extensive training and education can thoroughly evaluate the patient's existing dental situation. This assessment enables us to identify the correct underlying issues behind a malocclusion. By understanding the unique challenges presented by each patient, we can tailor the treatment plan accordingly.
Tailored Treatment Planning:
Proper diagnostics pave the way for a personalized treatment plan. We anticipate the expected tooth movements, develop a realistic timeline, and set achievable treatment goals based on the diagnostic findings. This detailed planning ensures that the aligners are precisely designed to guide the teeth into their desired positions. The predictability of the treatment and the final outcome is highly dependent on proper diagnostics and the quality of the data collected.
By customizing the treatment approach, orthodontists and dentists with extensive clear aligner experience can enhance the efficiency and predictability of the clear aligner treatment, maximizing the chances of achieving the desired outcomes.
Addressing Complex Cases:
A comprehensive diagnosis forms the basis for creating an individual treatment plan. Based on the diagnostic findings, the desired end result is determined. A detailed timetable is then drawn up, step by step and sequence by sequence, to ensure that the desired tooth movement is achieved from start to finish. In this context, it is important to emphasize that the treating dentist cannot disclaim responsibility for this planning. The manufacturers of clear aligners use so-called technicians who are trained to follow certain protocols to make it easier for the dentist to set up a correct treatment plan and sequence. However, the final plan must always be checked and approved by the treating dentist. Based on our experience, up to 90% of all digital treatment plans (Setups or ClinChecks) need to be modified to ensure realistic, safe and predictable treatment outcomes.
This extensive planning ensures that aligners are precisely designed to move teeth into their desired positions. To achieve predictable treatment outcomes, correct diagnosis and high quality of the data collected are essential, along with the desired final result.
By optimizing the treatment plan according to the patient's unique circumstances, orthodontists and experienced dentists can improve the efficiency and predictability of clear aligner treatment. This increases the chances of achieving the desired results while reducing the risk of unwanted movement or injury to the patient.
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Effective communication and patient education are further important prerequisites for successful treatment. Complete diagnostics provides the opportunity to use good visual tools, such as digital simulations or virtual treatment plans, that allow the dentist and team to show the potential outcome of any clear aligner treatment.
By giving patients a clear understanding of what to expect, patients can make informed decisions about their treatment based on the explanation they receive from the dentist and the aesthetic outcome they often desire. This active involvement promotes a sense of ownership and engagement, leading to improved compliance and overall satisfaction with the treatment process.
When it comes to a simulation of the treatment outcome or an initial treatment proposal from the aligner company, we need to pay attention ourselves. What we see on the computer screen may be clinically unrealistic and require several changes to the digital setup/clincheck before it becomes realistic. These changes are not done by the aligner companies, but by the dentists who treat the patients. You can get help with this task from an external orthodontist/dentist who helps with diagnostics and treatment planning (TPS = Treatment plannnig support/service). Using an external partner for this can increase the predictability of treatment and dramatically reduce the time needed in the chair. This will have a great effect on the patient's experience of the treatment process and reduce the dentist's costs ( the average chair time costs in 2023 is around 300€ or US Dollars. If the total chair time can be reduced by 3 hours as a result of optimal diagnostics and treatment. This means a total reduction in costs of 900€ or US Dollars. Add to this that the same time can be spent on other profitable procedures)
It's worth mentioning that most TPS providers on the market are not dentists, but technicians who optimize the digital treatment plans to ensure movements that are more realistic than the original proposal from the aligner company. The challenge is that unrealistic treatment outcomes on a computer screen can be planned to be realistic on the computer, but at best be clinically unrealistic and potentially harmful to the patient. For practitioners with extensive clear aligner experience this kind of solution can be great. However inexperienced treatment providers should be cautious.
Additionally, make sure your TPS provider understands the need for interdisciplinary orthodontic-restorative treatment and how to plan it in collaboration with the treating dentist.
Clear aligner treatment is a journey that requires regular monitoring and adjustments. Comprehensive diagnostics serve as a baseline reference for tracking the progress of treatment accurately. The patient, the dental team and the dentist or orthodontist can compare the expected tooth movements with the actual progress, allowing them to identify any deviations early on. With this information, they can make necessary adjustments or modifications to the treatment plan to ensure optimal results.
Comprehensive diagnostics are the cornerstone of successful clear aligner treatment. By conducting a detailed assessment, tailoring the treatment plan, addressing complex cases, educating patients, and monitoring progress, orthodontists can maximize the effectiveness of clear aligner therapy. Investing in a thorough diagnostic process not only ensures better treatment outcomes but also enhances patient satisfaction and engagement throughout the clear aligner journey. If you're considering clear aligner treatment, consult with an experienced orthodontist who emphasizes the importance of comprehensive diagnostics to start your transformative smile journey on the right track.
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This blog post was written by
Jesper Hatt DDS
Phone: +41 78 268 0078
AlignerService helps dentists create realistic, safe and predictable treatment plans with clear aligners.
Currently, we support 1500 dental clinics in 16 different countries world wide.