Improving Patient Comfort Through Technology
Dentsply Sirona’s SureSmile® Clear Aligners provide more predictable results and shorter treatment times
Anthony Ponzio, DDS, traces his philosophy as a dentist back to a time in his sophomore year in dental school when he invited his father, Alexander, to be his first patient. Alexander, who was a dentist himself, responded, "Are you out of your mind? You are not touching me until you know what you're doing." As Anthony learned, his father hated being in the chair regardless of who was beside it. During Alexander's childhood, his dentist was an uncle who avoided using anesthetics on family members. "As a result, my father was very sympathetic toward patients who were nervous," the younger Ponzio says. "His slogan on his business cards was ‘We welcome cowards.'"
When Anthony Ponzio opened his own practice in Oak Park, Illinois, he adopted that slogan for himself. His website's URL is WeWelcomeCowards.com. "We really focus on making our patients comfortable," he says. "We understand that they are nervous, so we use technology as much as possible to make procedures easier, and we complete as many treatments in the office as we are able to without referring people out."
That approach has served Ponzio well. After he outgrew his initial space and moved into a new building in 2014, Ponzio partnered with two friends to start a small dental partnership organization (DPO) in 2019. In 2022, they partnered with P1 Dental Partners in Indiana, and now, the DPO supports approximately 45 offices. Ponzio serves as the organization's clinical director in addition to running his own practice.
Ponzio's focus on providing a broad range of procedures at his practice led him to pursue education in orthodontics, and he has been offering clear aligners for approximately 15 years. During that time, he bounced back and forth between several clear aligner systems before finally finding one that really delivered superior results thanks to his other primary focus: technology. Ponzio had already been using Dentsply Sirona's CAD/CAM products for several years when, in 2019, he decided to try the company's SureSmile® Clear Aligners. "They told me that the workflow would be very smooth with my Primescan® intraoral scanner, so I tried a few cases and got great results," he says. "As I used SureSmile for more cases and got better, more predictable results with shorter treatment times, I eventually stopped using other systems entirely."
In a study published in 2020, clinical survey data indicated that 73% of all of the clear aligner cases needed refinements.1 Perhaps as a result, 96% of the dental providers who responded to a separate survey conducted that same year agreed that reducing the need for refinements is one of the biggest improvements that clear aligner manufacturers could make.2 By contrast, a recent 3-year retrospective analysis by Dentsply Sirona of more than 100,000 completed SureSmile Clear Aligner cases in its treatment planning software showed that 75% of the cases required no refinements.3 "I am a big believer in trying to exceed expectations," Ponzio says. "I would much rather underpromise and then overdeliver. With other clear aligner systems, the refinements sometimes ended up taking longer than the initial treatment times, but with SureSmile, we can offer orthodontic treatment and have confidence in its predictability."
According to Ponzio, everything starts with the Primescan. "The scanner's accuracy allows us to produce an extremely accurate model," he says. "Next, Dentsply Sirona's SureSmile® Digital Lab technicians help create an optimal treatment plan. I like that a real person with powerful software tools evaluates what is actually possible."
The aligners themselves are crystal clear, so patients like the esthetics, and they are comfortable as well. Thanks to Dentsply Sirona's software and tray designs, SureSmile aligners are able to provide more efficient movement with fewer attachments, which can shorten treatment times. "Because of the way the aligners are designed to engage the teeth so predictably," Ponzio says, "treatments go as planned and without the need for extra refinements at the end."
Dentsply Sirona is always striving to improve its offerings, and Ponzio notes that it is no different with SureSmile. "They are all-in on making sure that it is a great aligner system and platform, and that has been impressive to watch," he says. "Working with Dentsply Sirona for more than a decade, I have seen a real commitment to employing technology, staying on the cutting edge, and trying to make our workflows easier and more predictable. They listen to their users, and they are always innovating and pushing the envelope. That is the wagon that I want to hitch myself to because I want to be able to keep moving forward."
Being able to confidently offer such predictable orthodontic treatment with clear aligners has enabled Ponzio to treat significantly more patients. "I am improving access for patients who would not be comfortable going to another office," he says. "Also, adding orthodontics makes you see everything differently. Patients cannot always accurately express what they do not like about their teeth or what they want to change. They may mention the color or shape of a tooth when it's really more of a positional issue. If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, so if all you have ever done is crowns and veneers, then that is what you will do. However, once you get involved in orthodontics—especially clear aligners because they are so nonintrusive to patients' lives—you start to look at cases differently. You can move the teeth and need much less or, in some cases, no additional dentistry. We start every cosmetic case by considering whether the teeth are in a good position to get the result that the patient wants and whether or not we can improve that position to make the patient happy while preserving as much of the natural teeth as possible."
Predictable, minimally invasive treatments maximize patient comfort, which is Ponzio's ultimate goal for his practice. "SureSmile provides everything that I hoped for in terms of using technology to provide a better patient experience," he says. "There's really no other system that can compete."
•Three out of four SureSmile clear aligner patients require no refinements.3
•Treatment planning is easy with support from the SureSmile Digital Lab and software that works with most common intraoral scanners, including the Primescan® intraoral scanner.
•The Complete Case option offers a flat-rate price and includes the SureSmile® Whitening Kit4 and the SureSmile® VPro High-Frequency Device.
1. Keim RG, Vogels DS III, Vogels PB. 2020 JCO study of orthodontic diagnosis and treatment procedures part 1: results and trends. J Clin Orthod. 2020;54(10):581-610.
2. Survey among 433 U.S. Adult Dental Patients. Conducted by a third-party market research vendor, August 2020.
3. Based on an analysis of global SureSmile® cases conducted between Jan. 2019 and December 2021. Data on File.
4. Only available in the United States.
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