We live in a virtual/digital world so I am not surprised when asked, “Dr. Kelley do you use digital scanning when making impressions?” My answer is usually, “not yet, but for a very good reason.” I then proceed to explain why. Well my “why” is the very reason I blog today. And I am excited to share some new developments on this topic.
My team would love to be able to utilize a digital scanner instead of alginate impressions. There actually are several digital scanners on the market today. We have always been committed to bringing the most innovative approaches and technology to our practice. So why haven’t we introduced digital scanning? Unlike most orthodontic offices, our team specializes in the care of a diverse group of patients, patients ranging from birth to senior adults. We gladly embrace and consider it a privilege to treat the most complex and challenging of orthodontic cases. Thus, Kelley Orthodontics is waiting to invest in a digital scanner that can meet the needs of all our patients (babies born with cleft lip/palate, traditional orthodontic patients, and patients wearing Incognito or behind the teeth brackets.) Unfortunately, as of today, accurate digital scanning is only available to traditional orthodontic patients. However, we believe we are on the verge of a technology break through and Kelley Orthodontics is at the forefront of this discovery! I could not be more excited about this development.
Currently, we take traditional impressions of our cleft babies at Cook Children’s Hospital in an operating room. The cost incurred by these families is astronomical, not to mention the discomfort and emotional strain caused to both baby and parents. Thus, the ability to take a digital scan in our office would be a gigantic step in the right direction. Because there is no scanner on the market able to accomplish this task, we are partnering with Sirona, an amazing company that has a reputable presence in medical and digital imaging, in hopes of making this happen.
A couple of weeks ago, our representatives from Henry Schein dental company brought the Sirona scanner to our office to try on one of our cleft patients. We attempted to take the scan utilizing the current scanner and software. We were extremely pleased that we were able to get a significant portion of the scan. However not all of the critical areas were accurately recorded. Thus, we are requesting the software engineers at Sirona Germany to rewrite a portion of the software to allow us to retrieve the data we need from the scan. Since we are the first orthodontic office in the country to attempt this, we are breaking new ground. I believe the wait and effort is worth it. Cleft lip and palate families around the globe will greatly benefit with this new technology along with the specialties of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Plastics, and Otolaryngology.
The potential ripple effects of this type of development are indescribable. Babies failing to thrive because they are unable to eat could be orally scanned and fit for an orthodontic feeding appliance days, instead of weeks, after they are born. These little ones, with lengthy roads of surgeries and therapies, could begin eating sooner, leave the hospital earlier and begin their long term treatment and healing process; all while deterring major medical costs and emotional and physical discomforts.
So how does this affect you, our general population, our mainstream and most encouraging orthodontic patient-group? Once a scanner and software are developed that will meet the needs of our entire patient population, we will invest in it. We will be able to scan all patients here in our office! Thank you for waiting this out with us. Thank you for having hearts for those born with special differences. Thank you for sacrificing the good today in order to possess the best tomorrow. I have no doubt this will happen in the near future and we as an orthodontic community are all a part of making it happen. That is exciting! Kelley Orthodontics will indeed throw a party when this day arrives.
I am very thankful for families like yours who are willing to partner with us. I have included a couple photos from our first attempt of getting a scan of a baby born with a cleft lip/palate. The success of this appointment will be the springboard to success for our office and offices around the world. We are making history. You are making history. #inthistogether!
Stay tuned. The best of orthodontics is in our future.