Chaw-Su Kyi gives her top ten tips for offering orthodontic treatment, highlighting the importance of motivating patients at each step and getting the most out of your equipment.
In all aspects of life, you should always get the training you need to be the best you can be for whatever you want to accomplish.
It’s vital that you attend the courses and training needed to give you the competence to carry out your work. There are many courses on orthodontics; carry out your research and due diligence to train correctly to have the knowledge and understanding. Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts.
The most important aspect of orthodontic treatment is retention. I personally fit both fixed retainers and vacuum retainers, which are worn at night time.
The fixed retainers will be a part of my patient’s teeth for many years to come, which is why I fit custom-made fixed retainers.
Just before the debond appointment, I ask our laboratory to make a custom-made retainer, which sits passively, along with a holding jig, to ensure accuracy of placement for the retainer.
Remember to take treatment progress photos at regular intervals. It provides a fantastic overview of the treatment and builds up your portfolio.
Patients love seeing how teeth can be moved, and love receiving their before and after photos!
With orthodontic treatment, it can take anything from several months to more than two years to complete treatment.
Patient motivation is a huge factor in the success of treatment. We are asking our patients to wear devices in their mouths nearly 24 hours a day, which move the teeth slowly over time. They cannot see this change on a daily basis.
At every visit you see them, you must motivate, encourage and celebrate how well they are achieving the goals.
Do not start orthodontic treatment unless the patient has excellent oral hygiene. And do not be afraid to stop orthodontic treatment if the hygiene is consistently poor during the course of treatment.
Always remember, the majority of orthodontic treatment is elective treatment, and we do not want to leave our patients in worse dental health than we started.
Personally, I do not offer treatment if they are smokers: we wait until the habit has been stopped for several months.
Virtual practice and AI
Undoubtedly, the face of healthcare is going to change over the next 10 years, becoming more virtual with an increased use of artificial intelligence.
Start thinking now of how you can utilise Dental Monitoring, Smilemate and others to support and improve your practice.
There are different scanning systems available but I’ve only used the Itero scanner and would say this is the most useful technology for me on a day-to-day basis.
It’s a brilliant patient communication tool, along with all the other features I’m sure you will know of. It’s a completely worthwhile investment.
This is crucial for any treatment, but with orthodontics, you are planning the end result before starting treatment and fitting the brace.
You need to fully understand how you will carry out the tooth movements to achieve the desired results. Some patients will want the lateral incisors on the same occlusal height as centrals, others will want it 0.3mm more gingival.
Some patient expectations are achievable, but others may not be attainable. This discussion is part of the whole informed consent process before treatment.
Consider providing all the tools your patient needs to look after their brace for free.
We want our patients to maintain excellent oral hygiene, and we should support them by giving them the oral hygiene aids to keep it excellent. Take a video of yourself giving after-care advice and email it to your patients – visual instructions play a huge factor as well as the written.
You cannot do this alone!
Train your team – from answering simple orthodontic emergencies and providing brace after-care advice to carrying out the scanning.
I could not work without my team. Keep in mind the quote from Halford E Luccock: ‘No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.’
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