The day that I received my set of lingual (tongue side) braces, I was like a kid in the candy store. I was really excited. Not only will I begin on my own road of straightening my own teeth, but I will also be experiencing first hand the effects of using the latest technology in braces!
Ever since I began my career in orthodontics over 20 years ago, I embraced the idea that every person is unique, with a particular set of circumstance that required individualized, custom solution. We received training in diagnosis and treatment planning that analyzed every aspect of the persons tooth size, shape, position, as well as their jaw position and facial appearance. We looked at each persons anatomical needs as well as their practical, everyday habits and esthetic requirements. I believed that my treatment planning included the desires of the patients.
Over the years, I honed my skills at coaxing the essence of the person’s functional and esthetic needs out of the patient’s x-rays, models, and clinical exam, and coming up with the best solution for that patient. However, when it comes to executing those desires in their actual treatment, we are still using prefabricated set of braces on each person. Mind you, braces have come a long way in the use of technology; new materials in the construction of braces and wires have made our jobs much accurate and with greater comfort and reduced treatment time. However, the braces themselves are still not “customized” for each person. To get the most out of braces we are using, we still had to make adjustments to the braces clinically to achieve desired movements that we wanted.
To reduce the uncertainty of individual variation, I believe that braces that we use should be customized for each person, ones that will fit each tooth exactly, and then be able to place them on those teeth exactly where they should be placed. Before we place them in our patient, we should test it out on a computer simulation, to see how the teeth should be moved, and look at the final result, to see if the treatment is what we want to achieve. After years of clinical trials, and the advancement in computer technology, we are finally at a point where all this may be possible!