The Difference Between Digital vs Analog Orthodontics

Digital vs Analog Orthodontics

Orthodontics, like everything else, is constantly evolving with advancements in technology. Over the past decade, there has been a shift from analog-style treatment to digital treatment. Some orthodontic offices have chosen to embrace the digital future while others prefer to keep one foot in the past.

Analog orthodontics consists of stock braces being placed on every patient. This ensures little-to-no customization in the position of the teeth. A stock wire is then placed inside the braces. After several months of transitioning from thin to thick wires, the orthodontist does artistic wire bends to tweak teeth into their desired positions. When it comes time for retainers, goopy impressions or molds are used to fabricate a plaster model.

Have you ever lost your retainer and asked your orthodontist if a new one could be made without having to come in for an appointment? Chances are you had to come in again since your retainer was made using this analog system.

Let’s contrast this with digital orthodontics. Before treatment begins, the patient’s mouth is scanned using a 3D scanner (no radiation). In our office we use an iTero scanner. From there, the orthodontist is responsible for moving the teeth into their final position, using the help of computer technology to ensure optimal position. Custom clear aligners (Invisalign) or custom braces are then generated off of 3D printed models. When it comes time for retainers, the mouth is scanned again and a digital record is kept. A 3D printer is then used to generate resin models. Because of the digital record, the models can be re-printed in the future if needed.

If the technology is there to achieve more accurate tooth movement and a better patient experience, why not use it? Analog has lost every battle with digital over the past 20 years – and it appears orthodontics will not be any different. Embrace the future at our orthodontic office in Vaughan!

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