Digital technology provides opportunities to add value to the care orthodontists offer their patients

Innovations in technology are disrupting the orthodontic profession.  These changes affect both orthodontic care delivery and the economics of care delivery – the orthodontic marketplace.  “Disruptive Innovation in healthcare involves technologies, products, or services that are cheaper, simpler, and more convenient, making it possible for less-expensive professionals to provide advanced services in affordable settings, or even for patients to care for themselves.”1,2.  This is not the first time that the orthodontic profession has experiences disruptive innovation.  Consider the advent of the direct bonded appliance or the straight wire appliance in the 1970’s. Orthodontists at the time where concerned that these changes in technology would result in an increase in the number of general dentists and pediatric dentist doing orthodontics. In reality, these advances in technology provided benefits to patients and the orthodontic profession as a whole. Consider the advent of Invisalign in 1999;  orthodontists at the time were again concerned that general dentist would now treat more orthodontic patients. It is true that dentist have treated more orthodontic patients since the introduction of Invisalign, but so have orthodontist!. In fact the “orthodontic Pie” has increased in size and both general dentists and orthodontist are providing more orthodontics treatment. In fact, Invisalign through their enormous advertising budget is probably responsible for the aesthetic adult orthodontic market that all of us enjoy today.    Digital technology is making custom orthodontic appliances like Clear aligners possible. Today we are experiencing disruption of the orthodontic marketplace through the “direct to patient care” model through corporations such as Smile Direct Club, Candid Co, Byte, etc. due to the advent of custom orthodontic appliances. The same digital technology that makes this corporate direct to patient care model possible offer us as orthodontists real opportunities to improve the care we offer our patients. There are primary advantages that digital technology offers orthodontist to improve the care they offer their patients. 1) Proactive Treatment Planning, 2) the use of custom orthodontic appliances coordinated on a unified digital platform and 3) using 3D printing to take control of our workflow to provide our patients true customization at a minimum cost.  We will be expanded on each of these three points in subsequent blog posts.


2 Will Disruptive Innovations Cure Health Care. Christensen C., Bohmer R, Kenagy J. Harvard Business Review. Sept-Oct 2000