Imagine working each day constantly switching between two different business models depending upon the patient. Addressing different needs for scheduling, separate methods for tracking and storing inventory, even divergent protocols for the course of patient treatment can result in a disruptive clinical and business experience. Doctors and team members who use both digital and analog systems feel this disconnect. The digital platform of LightForce and their fully custom bracket system brings a consistent and beneficial orthodontic digital workflow to the practice, and patients who need braces can derive the same time-saving and convenience benefits as aligner patients. Learn how orthodontists are transforming their practices with our digital platform and fully customized 3D-printed orthodontic technology.
The digital experience starts even before the patient joins the practice. Mike Bonnes, Area Sales Manager for LightForce notes, “Patients search on social media, Google, check reviews, and ask friends, family members, or general dentist. They check out the doctor’s website and discover information on what the practice offers. Their search for innovative technology starts before they even contact the office.” He continues, “Depending on the extent of the practice’s capabilities, the patient can schedule the first appointment online.”
After that, the enthusiasm can continue or fade to analog. Bonnes describes, “When the patient arrives at a digital office, the assistant can use a scanner and create a digital model that the orthodontist can use to educate patients on their occlusion and even show how the teeth can be moved during treatment. Consider the impact of telling this patient, ‘This is the position of your teeth today, and this is what it would look like when your treatment is complete.’” Seeing actual changes to their own teeth creates more proof in the patients’ minds that that this office is forward thinking and leveraging the latest in digital technology to help them make an informed decision.
The decision between clear aligners or braces should focus on the clinical efficiency of the methods, but for patients, many choices hinge on the non-clinical details that drive the treatment — How long are my in-office appointments? How long in-between appointments? How long will treatment take?
For those who are eligible for clear aligner therapy, the orthodontic digital workflow is clear: the orthodontist submits the case, treatment plans digitally, schedules the patient for the bonding appointment, and the scheduling cadence begins. Bonnes notes, “Aligner appointments can be more spread out to every 10, 12, 14, maybe even 18 weeks.”
The LightForce digital protocol is very similar to clear aligner setup and implementation. The step-by-step workflow is as simple as with clear aligners:
✔Submit the scan and orthodontic records
✔Receive the digital treatment plan back within 48 hours
✔Submit modifications to the case
✔Look for your delivery in 7-10 business days
With an analog system and traditional bracket and wires, the bonding appointment can take 60-90 minutes, and because of inconsistencies that can produce unwanted movements in one-size-fits-all systems, patients need to have in-office checks about every 6 weeks. Bonnes adds, “Bonding appointments for LightForce or clear aligners take about 30-45 minutes, and check appointments can be spread out much further than traditional bracket and wire cases. Scheduling cadence is the same whether the patient needs clear aligners or LightForce custom braces technology.”
“LightForce fully customized appliances with 3D-printed brackets prevent issues that arise due to the one-size-fits all nature of injection-molded brackets,” says Bonnes. 3D-printed brackets are less likely to debond due to their 3D-printed customized bases, and the software avoids occlusal interferences, as well as allowing for additional TurboTrays. Even the 3D-printed slots are more accurate and precise than injection molded slots.
The orthodontic digital workflow and LightForce custom braces technology experience is vastly different than traditional braces but similar to clear aligner therapy. “Using one-size-fits-all brackets and wires, the patient’s appointments need to be more frequent because of possible unexpected tooth movement,” says Bonnes. “With totally custom brackets that are 3D printed to custom fit the patient, orthodontists can schedule less frequent visits because there is no need to reposition brackets or bend wires to prevent unwanted movements.”
A digital orthodontic workflow also avoids cash flow issues that arise from maintaining a bracket inventory. Bonnes says, “With LightForce, the orthodontist orders custom brackets as they are needed for the individual patient instead of keeping enough injection-molded brackets for 200 cases in the back closet and paying a staff member to maintain and reorder inventory. It frees up cash flow that could be deployed in marketing efforts or other helpful ways to grow your business. An orthodontic digital workflow is good for the practice and the patients.”
Bonnes explains that during the COVID-19 crisis, the burden of inventory has become increasingly apparent. “COVID-19 shutdowns put a lot of challenges on dental businesses that had tens of thousands of dollars of inventory that couldn’t even be used. During this crisis, these clinicians could have used that capital for more targeted marketing or improving the business. The analog workflow is much more labor intensive; more staff is needed to manage all aspects of the inventory and treatment. As we know, staff is the largest overhead for practices and small businesses, so having two business models working in the practice are disruptive against each other.”
The orthodontic market is now being driven by the informed dental consumer. Bonnes explains, “Technology has made it possible to shop for clothes, cars, movies, vacation venues — anything the consumer wants that fits their needs for convenience and a more digital experience. In the same vein, dental consumers are demanding total customization, and so are many referring dentists. Digital treatment planning enables orthodontists to collaborate with referring dentists electronically and makes it easier than having to meet in person. As we know, this is more important now than ever before.”
A digital business is filled with benefits to patients, doctors, and staff. What are your favorite days in the practice? Days filled with less headaches, more satisfied patients, and beautiful treatment outcomes. A complete orthodontic digital workflow and fully customized 3D printed brackets from LightForce can make every day one of your favorite days.
What would your favorite day in the office look like?