If you’re using both analog and digital systems to provide conventional braces and clear aligner therapies, there is now a way to evolve to a totally orthodontic digital workflow for a smooth and efficient practice. The LightForce system, with a similar digital workflow to clear aligners, can simplify your processes, save time, and even lead to more predictability of treatment.
Kurt Frazier, Vice President of Sales for LightForce and former leader at Invisalign, says that only real orthodontic digital workflow relates to clear aligner therapy. In bracket and wire treatment, the digital component does not carry through every aspect of the process. The digital treatment plan for braces begins by an animation of moving teeth on the screen. That’s the digital part. But, since the brackets are “stock,” tooth movement after bonding is subject to human error.
The LightForce System is truly digital from start to finish — mirroring the orthodontic digital workflow of clear aligners. The orthodontist digitally places the teeth to produce the desired end result in the software, and then skilled LightForce technicians 3D-print and position the brackets to achieve the result. Stock brackets cannot achieve the same level of accuracy because the bracket doesn’t fit perfectly on the tooth. The 100% customized 3D-printed brackets are integral to LightForce’s system differentiation.
Streamline digital treatment planning
“Positioning with stock brackets is always a ‘guestimate,’” says Frazier. “You can digitally plan, but if the brackets are not correctly positioned, due to either wrong placement or not lined up properly, the tooth movement will not stay on track. As a result, the orthodontist will need to bend the wire to move teeth in the right position. Correct tooth movement becomes a constant game of tweaking.” LightForce 100% custom brackets are 3D printed to fit in a specific position on a specific tooth — exactly as they were digitally planned to take advantage of the wires. It is the only first true straight-wire appliance,” says Frazier. This is the same type of digital workflow and same steps as with Invisalign clear aligners.
Reduce patient visits
“Patients need frequent orthodontic appointments because traditional braces need to be tweaked and brackets repositioned constantly. Most times the clinician guesses where the bracket needs to go on the tooth. That’s not a criticism — there’s just no way to be exact,” says Frazier. Since LightForce 3D-printed brackets are positioned to exactly fit tooth anatomy, the brackets only fit on the specific spot on the tooth. The patient doesn’t need frequent appointments because the wire will work as planned. Frazier explains, “That is what a true straight-wire is supposed to do — the end goal of what every company that manufactures brackets and wires wants to achieve.” Because of this predictability, while the average patient sees the orthodontist on an average of every six weeks, with LightForce, appointments can be scheduled about every 10 – 16 weeks. “What a practice development opportunity to have more patients in braces, but not appoint them as often. This is a dream scenario. If you had more time in your schedule, what would you do with your extra time? When your digital workflow is moving teeth as planned, you may be able to schedule two days seeing patients in your main office, then spend your other days expanding your practice in satellite locations.”
Add virtual options
In the new age of virtual appointments for medicine and dentistry, orthodontists also are using virtual monitoring. LightForce fits perfectly in this new concept. Patients can send the orthodontist a digital photo — if the wire is still active and moving teeth, an in-person appointment is not necessary. If the orthodontist sees that the wire is fully expressed, it’s time for an office visit. Frazier says, “The only reason for an office visit is to change O-rings, if the wire is not active, or if a bracket is broken. In this way, you as a specialist, can provide the convenient service that direct-to-consumer companies are offering to their patients. The only difference is that the patient has a specialist that he/she can actually come in and talk to if needed.”
Delegate to staff and software
With LightForce, orthodontists can spend more time doing what they love — planning great smiles. And they can delegate certain tasks depending on state laws. Orthodontists practice their specialty by creating treatment plans in the software and designating exactly where the custom 3D-printed brackets should be placed to achieve the desired end result.
On bonding day, the chairside assistant can:
Because the brackets fit in only one spot on the tooth, the usual 1-1/2 hour bonding appointment is reduced to 45 minutes. During a traditional appointment, the doctor has to be involved with bracket placement. With LightForce, once the orthodontist provides all of the specifications and vectors of force to move the teeth to the desired position in the software, no additional tweaking is necessary. The brackets are 100% custom 3D-printed to be placed in one specific spot, and the indirect bonding system directs them to glue it in only that space. The assistant doesn’t decide on or change bracket placement. The orthodontist can stop by and greet the patient, but doesn’t have to be hands on at this point.
For training, LightForce’s integration specialist discusses all parts of the digital workflow — from how to submit a case to educating the treatment coordinator on all aspects of the LightForce system. The Integration Specialist brings 3D-printed models with brackets inside indirect bonding trays. All treatment coordinators and chairside assistants practice bonding cases on models before their first patient. “It’s a robust training program,” says Frazier. An online certification program educates treatment coordinators meaningful messaging for patients. Frazier notes, “After training, the treatment coordinator can differentiate the office so when patients ask questions, they can recognize the value in what your office offers with this complete custom prescription plan.”
Dr. Andrew Serrano of Serrano Orthodontics offers his first-hand experience after integrating LightForce. “We’ve seen significant efficiency improvements using the LightForce system. The reduction of office visits and overall treatment times have been invaluable. We’ve been waiting for a technology like this for a long time.”