For people who’ve had braces as adolescents, it can come as a rude awakening when they get into their forties and realize that their teeth have once again become misaligned. The surprise is sometimes accompanied by the rueful knowledge that they didn’t entirely follow the protocols that could have prevented later problems.
“We’ve had patients who’ve felt bad about the fact that they put a pretty decent investment into braces early on in life but maybe didn’t wear the retainer and now their teeth are rotating and turning,” says Dr. Ryan Bond of Cramer & Bond Dentistry. “One patient felt guilty about the fact that her teeth used to be in perfect alignment but now year after year they turn a little bit more. She’s excited about the prospect of being able to get them back to where they were.”
That excitement is born out of Cramer & Bond’s latest set of tools, which include Invisalign, a clear aligner that straightens teeth using smooth plastic that gets replaced every two weeks. It’s a much more comfortable and less invasive alternative to traditional metal braces. All three dentists at Cramer & Bond are now certified in the process, but the majority of treatment options will fall to Dr. Bond and his wife, Dr. Megan Bond.
For younger patients, the practice has a regular orthodontist, Dr. Sung, that current provides treatment for orthodontic cases. “Dr. Sung provides traditional orthodontic treatment for people of all ages and serves as a mentor for more complex cases,” says Dr. Bond. “We’ll be here for adults who have minor corrections to be made that can be treated with Invisalign.”
Part of the process is educating patients about the product and what it can do. “Most people have at least heard of this technology but may not know exactly what it entails,” he says. “It progressively puts pressure on specific teeth to get them to start moving, and every two weeks you switch to a new set.”
The team is also offering a new type of digital scanner known as iTero, a high precision device that takes a series of photographs of all of a patient’s teeth and creates a digital representation on screen so that patients can see what the results of different procedures would look like. “They get a good picture of what we’re talking about, using their actual teeth,” says Dr. Bond.
With iTero, the set-up process for clinical checkups is approximately 50% faster. It’s also ten times less likely that the images will need to be reshot, a process that prolongs patient discomfort. Getting to see simulated outcomes can make it easier to make decisions. “The iTero and Invisalign go hand in hand,” he says.
The machine will go live during the second or third week of January, and patients have already booked appointments. To become certified, both Dr. Ryan Bond and Dr. Megan Bond took an 8-hour course in Tacoma that included a combination of theory and hands-on simulations led by the speaker.
The new services are the result of patient demand, he says. “We’re coming across quite a few adults who’ve had orthodontics in the past and their teeth have shifted around quite a bit. They’re not excited about repeating the braces process, but they’re not happy with where things are. The idea of clear aligners that are removable and much less noticeable seems to be pretty appealing to patients as we talk over treatment options.”
Allowing teeth to remain misaligned can lead to a variety of dental problems. “Generally speaking, having your teeth in correct alignment affects bone and gum health over time,” says Dr. Bond. “The more irregular spaces, the more plaque and germs have a place to hide out. There’s a direct relationship between correct alignment and periodontal health.”
Problems with Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ) can also arise based on improper tooth contact and positioning, he warns. “People can have less jaw pain and less jaw problems once they’re aligned properly.”
For patients with missing teeth, replacement can be a challenge if there isn’t enough space available for an implant. In the past, the solution would have been braces, but now Invisalign can achieve the same result. “This is a way to potentially create a little bit of extra space,” says Dr. Bond.
As patients have been learning of the new services, interest is growing. “It’s been really positive,” he says. “I can’t think of anybody that I’ve talked to that has flat out said they’re not interested. Patients want to learn more about it and take a look at what the scanning technology can do. The response has been better than I anticipated.”
The dentists are also looking forward to using their new tools. “We’re really excited to be able to provide this service to our patients,” says Dr. Bond. “We want to contribute to their overall oral health and give them the smile that they’re looking for.”
To learn more about Cramer & Bond Dentistry, visit www.atlasdentistry.com/tumwater or call 360-357-4500.