Orthodontists talk of technological advances and braces.
We’re not there yet, but in the not-too-distant future it may be as common to see a 3D printer churning out retainers in an orthodontist’s office as it is to see a spit sink today.
Technology is constantly advancing in the science and art of straightening teeth and correcting misaligned bites. But, practitioners note, you can only rush things so far.
“There is a lot of talk about accelerated treatment modalities, like vibrating the teeth, but I personally feel there needs to be more research,” said Rebecca Lash Rubin, D.M.D., M.S., who practices with her father, Steven Rubin, at Lash Rubin Orthodontics in West Bloomfield. “We orthodontists like to take our time. We are moving teeth through bone, and there is nothing fast about that.”
“Our profession, from a technological standpoint, has changed tremendously, which certainly makes things more efficient and pleasant for our patients,” said Andrea Nakisher, D.D.S., M.S., a third-generation dentist with offices in Farmington Hills and Commerce. “However, the basic principles of orthodonture have not changed.”
One thing that’s different is the modern-day acceptance of braces, which were once dreaded but have now become downright cool with the younger set.
“They’ve become a fashion statement. I can put on braces with 50 different colors, some that have glitter and glow in the dark,” said Nelson “Nick” Hersh, D.D.S., M.S., of Hersh-Beattie Orthodontics in West Bloomfield and Waterford. “Kids have fun with it — and I have fun with it, too. All the kids see each other’s braces and know what’s going on, so there is no fear or anxiety.”
One of the more unpleasant aspects of getting braces, biting into what Nakisher called “mushy molds” to have impressions made of the teeth, is becoming a thing of the past with the advent of three-dimensional scanners.
Hersh loves his iTero scanner, which he calls “a magic wand, so to speak” that is moved over the teeth to take fast, accurate digital impressions for Invisalign braces. “The kids love it, the adults love it, and every time someone uses it in the office I have to stop and watch,” Hersh said. “It only takes two or three minutes and there is no discomfort at all.”
Nakisher said, “We’ve almost eliminated taking impressions. That’s an amazing thing.”
The clear plastic aligners known as Invisalign continue their popularity with both patients (particularly adults) and practitioners.
“Invisalign has really opened up orthodontics to people who would not have sought it in the past because they didn’t want metal braces,” Nakisher said.
“The advancements are really impressive,” noted Rubin, who is looking forward to participating at ORT’s Camp Hermelin fundraiser in Bingham Farms on Sept. 16, where she’ll be on hand to answer questions about orthodontics. She’s a member of Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, where her grandfather, George Stutz, was a founding member. “Invisalign used to just fix crowding and some other problems, but in the past two or three years they can really mimic what we do with traditional braces.”
Many parents, however, still prefer traditional metal braces for their children, Rubin said, because they are not removable, eliminating the temptation for kids to pop them out.
“The key to Invisalign is that you have to wear it,” she said. “The best results I have seen are with patients who are totally dedicated and wear them 24/7 except to eat, brush their teeth and on special occasions.”
While all orthodontists are dentists, only 6 percent of dentists are orthodontists, according to the American Association of Orthodontists.
“We are trained to evaluate problems that a general dentist may not be able to identify,” said Nakisher, who also belongs to Temple Israel, supports Detroit Dog Rescue and volunteers at Tamarack Camps’ medical clinic each week, helping kids who may be having problems with their braces. She recommends children first see an orthodontist at age 7.
“We enable kids to build their self-esteem,” said Hersh, a member of the West Bloomfield School Board who also sits on the Tamarack Camps and Holocaust Memorial Center boards. “And that is the biggest mitzvah.”