8 Ways to Harness Digital Technology In Your Orthodontic or Dentistry Practice

These days, it seems there’s a digital solution for everything — the dental and orthodontic fields are no exception. If you haven’t taken advantage of the many digital diagnostic and treatment planning tools available, it’s a good time to consider updating your practice. Adopting digital dental or orthodontic technology has many benefits for both you and your patients.

What are some of these benefits, you ask? As a dentist or orthodontist, you and your team can enjoy a leg up on both prevention and treatment: faster service, precision imaging, improved communication with colleagues, and oftentimes, better treatment results. In the end, these perks can help grow your practice… and your bottom line. For patients, digital tools can make appointments efficient, comfortable, and facilitate more transparent communication with their dental professionals.

So what kinds of dental and orthodontic technology can you harness to improve your practice? As a board-certified and experienced orthodontist, Dr. Sandra Khong Tai is well-versed in new orthodontic technology. Here, we’ll talk about eight tools of digital dentistry to truly bring your practice into the 21st century.

1. Digital X-Rays

For many generations of patients, dental x-rays meant biting down on bitewings and wearing a protective lead apron for a 2D image. But today’s digital dentistry offers safe and comfortable digital x-ray imaging, technology that produces a 3D digital rendering. of  teeth, jaws, facial structures and nerve pathways in unparalleled detail. In fact, it can even provide enough data to support a complete diagnosis. Radiography with i-Cat imaging is state-of-the-art, completely non-invasive and takes about 20 seconds. 

With i-Cat dental technology, you can zoom, enhance the contrast or extract images, allowing you to plan treatment from all angles without needing retakes or multiple types of x-rays. The images are easily shareable with the patient, too, so they are fully informed and make educated decisions about their dental or orthodontic next steps.

2. Digital Impressions

Gone are the days when goopy molds were the only option for getting teeth impressions from your patients. Many practices that have embraced digital dentistry use digital dental impression technology — like the iTero® Digital Impression System. Digital impressions use an intraoral wand with a digital scanner to capture precise images of a patient’s mouth. These images are stitched together by software that creates 3D virtual renderings of teeth and gums.

An iTero digital impression is quick and completely comfortable for the patient. Within minutes, both you and your patient can see a fully rendered, 3D image of the patient’s oral system. This image is used to plan dental or orthodontic treatment with a new level of efficiency and precision.

3. Clear Aligner Treatment With Invisalign

Almost 25 years ago, Align Technology introduced Invisalign clear aligners as an innovative and effective alternative to braces. To date, around 14 million smiles have been transformed by this orthodontic technology. But what’s really exciting is that the past 10 years has seen digital technology evolve this clear aligner system, further improving the process and the results. 

What does this improvement look like? For one, using the iTero scanner we mentioned above has introduced clear and precise 3D renderings from which to start designing treatment. As an Invisalign orthodontist or dentist, you can digitally map out a patient’s tooth movements step by step onto these 3D images, resulting in greater accuracy. 

In addition, Invisalign now offers the Invisalign Outcome Simulator, software that lets you show your patients a preview of their final smile. Patients feel more confident knowing what their results will look like.

4. Orthodontic ClinCheck System

One of the other helpful clinical applications of digital dental technology is Invisalign’s ClinCheck software. Clincheck helps streamline the treatment planning process by reducing review time and providing real-time communication between you and your Invisalign technicians. 

It also improves accuracy since you can review and manipulate different aspects of the treatment model within ClinCheck in accordance with your Invisalign technician’s notes and your own expertise. Invisalign ClinCheck features a helpful Review Wizard that guides you step-by-step through a series of clinical views of your patient’s virtual teeth model, posing questions to consider for each view.

ClinCheck is part of Align Technology’s Align Digital Platform, a seamless integration of software, services, and systems that connects all Invisalign users: dentists and orthodontists, labs, patients, and consumers. Harnessing the power of this orthodontic technology can only improve your practice’s efficiency, your patient engagement, and their outcomes.


5. Remote Monitoring for Orthodontics

Invisalign has always distinguished itself as an orthodontic treatment that a patient handles at home with dentist or orthodontist oversight. In recent years, new dental technology has made this process even easier. Instead of in-person check-ins, Invisalign Virtual Care remote monitoring streamlines the communication between you and your patients.

The Invisalign Lens is an oral camera that a patient attaches to their smartphone along with an app they download. They take images of their teeth with the camera and send them to you through the app. On your end, you review the images to check their progress and can respond with any issues you see or the go-ahead to carry on with their treatment plan.

6. In-House 3D Printing

It’s safe to say that tech-savvy dentists and orthodontists have been embracing 3D printing, bringing both the design and production of orthodontic appliances in-house. You can use a 3D printer to produce plastic appliances like indirect bonding trays for braces, retainers, and some clear aligners. It’s a revolutionary tool for digital dentistry and orthodontics which offers you more control and a quicker turnaround for your patients. These 3D printers for digital dentistry use specially formulated, biocompatible plastic that is BPA free and safe for use in the mouth.

7. Patient Management & Scheduling Software

Digital dental practice management software that integrates your staff and patient needs is indispensable for running as efficiently as possible. Some dental practice software even has the option of tying in digital marketing and patient engagement tools, patient billing, and digital imaging software —  right in with your office management system.

We now schedule new patient consultations virtually through zoom. You can meet your orthodontist from your home or your office to discuss treatment options. 

8. Professional Development with Our Online Clear Aligner Course

We know you’re busy. But if you’re a dentist who’s been thinking about expanding your services to include Invisalign treatment, our digital clear aligner course is designed for you. We’ve taken digital dentistry to the next level with a fully digital and interactive CE course you can complete on your own schedule.

Dr. Sandra Khong Tai has developed “Orthodontic Mini Residency in Clear Aligner Technique” as a module-based clear aligner course covering the basics all the way to complex and multi-disciplinary cases. And in addition to the educational learning you receive, participating in this digital Invisalign course ushers you into a global online community of dentists, orthodontists and dental professionals around the globe who have taken the course — a community you can both learn from and share with. 

About Dr. Sandra Khong Tai

What qualifies Dr. Tai to create this curriculum? This course draws from her over two decades of experience as a specialist in orthodontics. And she is a Diamond Plus Invisalign Provider, meaning she has treated over 4,200 cases with Invisalign. Dr. Tai is also an experienced educator, sharing her knowledge with dental and orthodontic professionals globally through Aligner Resources. She is also a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia Faculty of Dentistry and an Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of the Pacific, San Francisco. 

Gaining a Competitive Advantage With Digital Dentistry

It’s fair to say that a practice that delivers more comfortable treatments, shorter, more efficient appointments, and precise outcomes is appealing to patients. Embracing digital dentistry goes a long way in achieving these goals and attracting more patients. Using the most innovative and proven tools to enhance your practice and patient experience will ultimately help you grow your practice.

Things to Consider When Deciding How To Integrate Dental Technology

Now that we’ve covered several digital dental innovations that can enhance your practice, you might be wondering how to decide which digital dental technology to adopt. Or in what order. How do you prioritize? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

1. Which areas of my practice will benefit most from new dental or orthodontic technology? For example, do you need to first move from traditional x-rays to digital x-rays for your patients’ peace-of-mind?

2. Which digital tools make sense with my budget? Remember that just like some investments you make in your dental or orthodontic business, some of your ROI (return on investment) is quantifiable, while others are not. 

3. What are my metrics for how digital technology will enhance my practice? In other words, are you looking to improve staff efficiency or morale with an upgraded dental practice management system? Or patient comfort with digital diagnostic technology? Perhaps you’d like more accurate diagnostics to inform treatment? Or you want to increase patient engagement.

4. What Kind of Professional Development or Training Do I Need? Consider yourself and your staff: what types of education and training does everyone need to use your new dental or orthodontic technology successfully? What about investing in  technique courses like our online orthodontic mini residency — so you can offer a new service with confidence?

Digital Dentistry That Keeps Up With Our Digital Lifestyle

Set yourself up to keep pace with dentistry in the 21st century… as well as stay aligned with our digitally-based culture. In addition, harnessing the power of digital dental practice technology can boost your practice by enhancing in-office efficiency, patient experience and outcomes, and help you grow your practice, too.

If you want to get started by looking into our clear aligner course, contact us to register.