Advances within the industry from the BOC
As the orthodontic industry changes, especially with the uncertainty of the NHS contracts, practices are striving to finesse their processes. Over the past few years, we have seen the introduction of the intraoral scanners which negate the use of alginate and plastic impression trays. The overuse of plastic is a key topic in today’s news, so by investing in a digital scanner it can be our way of helping the environment.
We heard from Sean Thompson of Ashford Orthodontics lab at the BOC2019 in Glasgow on the dental professional's programme who frequently works with alginate free practices. With upper and lower arch scans being taken by trained dental professionals in less than 3 minutes and being sent securely as a lab partner over the internet, it also allows us to reduce our carbon footprint by reducing the use of lab collections and deliveries. Sean spoke of scanning patients pre debond, having the brackets digitally removed at the lab so they can provide the orthodontic practices with night time retention to fit at the debond appointment. This would improve the patient journey and improve clinician availability.
At Northenden House Orthodontics we have Align Technology’s ‘Itero’ intraoral scanner which we have had now for around 2 years. However, even within the Align brand, there have been advances and modifications to the units available, now making scanning versatile between clinics. Aside from the ‘Itero’, there are alternative intraoral scanning units available from different manufacturers and suppliers such as Dentsply and TOC. Pricing between units does vary but it is completely down to clinician preference and how you want to use the unit within your practice as to how much you wish to pay.
Whilst our intraoral scanner is used for outcome simulations and the production of an STL file to send to a lab partner, we certainly have more scope for improvement. We could be using it daily for our record collection pre/post-treatment and also for the production of lab-produced orthodontic appliances. This is a plan for the future. There is no reason why all practices can’t work in the cost of the scanner into a business plan, there is no doubt it is a valuable asset and with the demand from the patient for time-efficient appointments ever-increasing it will only improve your business.
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- Mohammad Malik