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Inside Dentistry
March 2023
Volume 19, Issue 3

Advanced Aligner System Enhances GP’s Restorative Capabilities

Align Technology’s Invisalign® clear aligners provide predictable, streamlined treatment

Jennifer Bell, DDS

Signature Family Dentistry's patients range in age from less than 1 year to older than 100, and co-owner Jennifer Bell, DDS, says that she considers it a blessing and a privilege to have that level of participation from her community in Holly Springs, North Carolina. In return for the trust of entire families, she is determined to do whatever is possible to help patients extend the life expectancy of their natural dentition. "Our practice is heavily focused on prevention and risk assessment, which includes having integrated conversations with patients about risk profiles and how dentistry can help them keep their teeth healthy for their entire lives," she says.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic led to an increased demand for cosmetic work via the rise of video conferencing, Bell maintains a solid foundation regarding function that is heavily influenced by the training that she received at the Kois Center. "Orthodontic care is a significant part of all of my restorative esthetic consultations," she says. "We often perform orthodontic tooth movement before we move into composite bonding, veneering, or other esthetic treatments."

Bell's orthodontic capabilities were transformed with the adoption of Invisalign® clear aligners from Align Technology. She utilizes them not only for esthetic cases but also to address malocclusion, temporomandibular joint issues, and more. "With invisalign treatment, I am able to look through so many different lenses to ensure that we are providing balanced occlusion, optimal function, a healthy TMJ, etc," she says. "That can be a challenge when we refer patients out for orthodontics, but handling the clear aligners in-office allows us to look at everything very holistically as general practitioners."

Of course, patients appreciate the in-office treatment as well. "Most patients want to stay in your office because they have built relationships with you and your team and they know what to expect," Bell says. "Offering orthodontic treatment in your practice allows them to stay in the comfort of their dental home, and working with a predictable company like Align allows us to achieve the type of results that they expect." The predictability of Invisalign treatment is backed by more than 25 years of experience as the market leader in clear aligner therapy—a fact that is not lost on Bell. "I am a data-based, science-driven clinician," she says. "I want to work with companies whose products have history and who have learned along the way through product development and case experience to enhance and improve clinical outcomes. Align has not only that long history of success but also a tremendous track record regarding development, improvement, and enhancements to their product lines."

The other overarching benefit that Bell appreciates is Align's complete digital platform, which includes the iTero line of intraoral scanners and the new Invisalign Smile Architect software module. The iTero Element  5D Plus Series provides excellent digital impressions, but it also offers interproximal caries detection aid with near-infrared imaging (NIRI) technology, an intraoral camera, the Invisalign Outcome Simulator Pro, optimal Invisalign connectivity, and real-time time-lapse visualization. "The ease of using our iTero Element scanner—as opposed to making analog impressions-motivates us to do more Invisalign cases," Bell says. "However, there are so many additional benefits that our team enjoys, from the diagnostic capabilities to the restorative planning options. I use the iTero scanner for removables and implants. One of my favorite celebrity chefs, Alton Brown, talks about avoiding ‘unitaskers,' which are tools with singular functions. The iTero scanner is quite the opposite. It is the ultimate multitasker and a real workhorse."

According to Bell, patient education is one of the most important benefits of the iTero scanner. "If a patient's anterior composite keeps chipping off due to a functional issue, my ability to quickly scan the patient, show him or her the functional challenges, discuss orthodontic movement, and perform the orthodontic treatment in our practice is such a win for both the practice and the patient-dentist relationship," she says. Invisalign Smile Architect, meanwhile, facilitates ortho-restorative treatment planning with a facially driven approach. "It really solves the disconnect for general practitioners, in particular, when we are trying to set up orthodontic cases in conjunction with long-term restorative planning," Bell says. "Previously, I would try to manipulate the orthodontic treatment plan to accomplish what I thought would be sufficient positional movement to provide clearance for restorative dentistry. Unfortunately, this consistently led to the need for further refinement using an additional round of aligners because I did not understand the case in three dimensions. Knowing the thickness of restorative materials and visualizing how they will look in the patient's face can be very difficult. Invisalign Smile Architect brings all of the pieces of the puzzle together so that I can optimize the position of the teeth. We are able to engage in excellent informed-consent communication with patients and perform truly facially generated treatment plans that include restorative applications."

In addition to all of the clinical benefits of Invisalign aligners, the iTero Element intraoral scanners, and Invisalign Smile Architect, Bell touts their advantages for the practice. "Invisalign treatment solutions also provide a great way to deliver more value to patients and create new revenue streams without placing increased physical demands on the dentist's back and neck," she says. "There are a lot of delegated duties that benefit the dentist. It is a really nice adjunctive service to add to your practice." Most importantly, however, Invisalign treatment helps Bell provide her community with the type of holistic care that patients have come to expect from her practice. "It really affords me with control of my esthetic cases from start to finish," she says. "Previously, patients had to go back and forth between our practice and the orthodontist to get the spacing, occlusion, and everything else correct—assuming that the orthodontist even really understood and correctly interpreted what we were trying to do esthetically. But now, we can control the patient experience, process, and outcome in a more ideal way."

Key Points

• Invisalign clear aligners deliver predictable, proven orthodontic treatment outcomes.

• The iTero Element 5D Plus Series provides digital impressions, interproximal caries detection aid with near-infrared imaging (NIRI), an intraoral camera, the Invisalign Outcome Simulator Pro, optimal Invisalign connectivity, and real-time timelapse visualization.

• Invisalign Smile Architect delivers ortho-restorative treatment planning with a facially driven approach.

For more information, contact:
Align Technology • 984-833-5700

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