Orthodontic questions and answers with Dr Riolo

What are custom orthodontic appliances?

Custom orthodontic appliances are made specifically for a single individual; these appliances are “programmed” to straighten a specific individuals teeth and therefore will not work for any other patient.  There are many types of custom appliances, these appliances are customized in different ways.  In some cases only the bracket (like the Insignia bracket system) is customized, in others only the wires are customized (such as the Suresmile system), while the Incognito system customizes both the bracket and the wires.  These appliances are fabricated and pre-programmed to move the teeth in the predetermined position.  There are also removable custom appliances like Invisalign where clear trays are fabricated to fit a single individual and these tray are fabricated to move that persons teeth into a predetermined position.

Have braces changed since I was treated by my orthodontist 10 years ago?

Orthodontics has changes so much in the last 20 years that a orthodontist that graduated in 1990 would be lost with modern technique and mechanics.  Our practice is on the cutting edge of these changes and 8 years ago I could not have seen the patients in my current office.  I would not have had the knowledge necessary to used the technology available today.  The technology in the field of orthodontic is changing at a unbelievable rate and orthodontist that are not continually updating their skills will be left behind to practice using yesterdays technology and getting yesterdays results!

How do orthodontist’s learn about these new technologies?

Orthodontist’s learn the basic concepts technique in their orthodontic residency that usually lasts either 2 or 3 years after dental school.   New orthodontic graduates have not yet acquired the knowledge and the skills required to master these new technologies.  That is why association after graduation, with an established practice that has continued to grow and progress with the profession,  is very important for a new orthodontic graduate. Beyond that, continuing education is essential to the life long learning that is required of any health professional.

What will the future of orthodontics look like?

The one thing that I know is that custom orthodontic appliances are here to stay.  In the next 5 to 10 years I believe that most orthodontic treatments will be accomplished using custom orthodontic appliances.  Overall treatment time will decrease and the quality of the treatment result will increase as these appliances mature.  Beyond that, there is some exciting research into tissue regeneration and individual host factors that have great potential to change orthodontics over the next 15 years.