Collaboration between orthodontists and restorative dentists is essential for complex restorative dental cases. Thanks to digital tools, communication and treatment planning have become more streamlined and efficient. Intraoral scanners play a significant role in sharing digital records, including STL files that can be transformed into 3D representations of the desired treatment outcomes. Research supports the use of these digital tools in improving interdisciplinary orthodontic treatment.
Traditional communication methods, such as written treatment plans and in-person meetings, have limitations when it comes to conveying complex orthodontic movements. It can be challenging for orthodontists to explain treatment plans in writing, and for dentists to understand and communicate them to the patient. This is especially true for dentists who are new to collaborating with orthodontists. Visualizing predicted tooth movement from written communication can be difficult.
To address these challenges, Straighten Up Orthodontics in Clearwater, Fla, has developed a visualized treatment objective (VTO) workflow using a 3D treatment letter. This involves designing and printing a 3D model that shows the anticipated final result after orthodontic treatment. The VTO can be shared digitally, hand-delivered, or shipped to the dentist, allowing them to see 3D renderings of the orthodontic solutions. This visual representation helps dentists visualize the treatment plan results quickly and effectively, enabling them to communicate the importance of ideal pre-restorative occlusion to the patient.
The use of the VTO and 3D models has been successful in patient acceptance of orthodontic treatment. Straighten Up Orthodontics has implemented this approach with 15 local restorative dental practices. The high conversion rate of patients accepting orthodontic treatment has led to a decision not to charge referring dentists or patients for the orthodontist’s time and the 3D model. This reduces the lab fees for dentists and provides them with a final post-orthodontic occlusion in 3D model form, which they would not typically receive. The cost associated with producing the VTO and models primarily involves the orthodontist’s time and printing costs. Patients who receive the VTO or model are less likely to seek second opinions, as they have confidence in the problem-solving approach of the restorative team.
The workflow for using the VTO involves the restorative dentist sending the STL files with a treatment plan to the orthodontist. The orthodontist then creates the orthodontic pre-restorative setup in treatment planning software and generates the VTO video and/or 3D printed models. The 3D treatment letter is sent to the dentist, who can use the models to show the patient the anticipated orthodontic outcome. The dentist may also complete a digital wax-up to demonstrate the final anticipated prosthodontic outcome. With the support of AI, the setup time is streamlined, and the orthodontist can quickly create the VTO treatment plan. The models are printed with articulator attachments to analyze the case in the proper occlusion.
A success story illustrating the effectiveness of the VTO involves a patient with an anterior crossbite, supraerupted teeth, and missing teeth. The restorative dentist shared the patient information with the orthodontist, who created an orthodontic mockup using software and printed it for the dentist. The 3D model showcased the benefits of orthodontic therapy and encouraged the patient to pursue orthodontic treatment.
In conclusion, the use of digital tools, such as the VTO and 3D models, has revolutionized the collaboration between orthodontists and restorative dentists. It has improved communication, treatment planning, and patient acceptance of orthodontic treatment. The visual representation provided by the 3D models allows dentists to effectively communicate treatment plans to patients and emphasize the importance of ideal pre-restorative occlusion. This innovative approach has proven to be a valuable tool in patient education and interdisciplinary case management.