Last April, I blogged about our desire to provide digital impressions in our office for ALL of our patients. Digital imaging has been around for years in the orthodonic world. Our delay in providing these impressions in our office was our hopeful anticipation of a scanner and program that would also allow us to retrieve pictures of the soft palate of infants. We worked with one of the major digital companies, Sirona, to try and achieve this goal. We were waiting for a software update to their current scanner. Often, we wait and good things come to fruition. However, In this situation, the waiting did not produce the results we needed.
Thus, I moved on to find another company who could assist us. 3M is a major manufacturing company in the United States and around the world, famous for their sticky notes and thousands of other products we use on a daily basis. They happen to own a dental and orthodontic company. They have developed a Dental True Definition Scanner. Erin from 3M and Christian from New England Orthodontic Lab enabled us to achieve something BRAND NEW. And I am proud to say, "Kelley Orthodontics is the first orthodontic practice in the United States to deliver a dental obturator for a patient born with a cleft lip and palate using 3M’s Digital Scanner!" This is a dream come true and something I have prayed for and waited nearly 2 decades to see invented.
We took a digital scan of the roof of the mouth of a 3 week old baby boy and fabricated his appliance utilizing digital technology and a 3-D printed model. For the past eighteen years, I have taken the impression of all of our cleft babies at Cook Children’s Hospital due to potential risks involved using alginate materials with infants. The process has been challenging and heart wrenching on the patients and their parents. Because of this breakthrough, we will now be able to skip this step and take a digital scan of the babies’ palate during their new patient appointment right here in OUR OFFICE. This will spare our youngest patients much discomfort and tears. The obturator (or appliance) will be delivered in a more timely manner, allowing our babies to begin feeding more effectively and thus thriving. This process will save the parents an additional set of costly hospital charges. AND the best part about the obturator made from the digital impression is that it actually fits BETTER than the appliance created by the alginate impressionl. (I am so excited, I can't stand it!)
The picture above is of Matthew on the appliance delivery day. I am holding the 3-D model we used to make the obturator in my left hand. I can't begin to express how long I have waited for this day. We have taken many failed digital scans so the object in my possession is like an invaluable trophy in the hands of the underdog. I am so humbled and grateful for this monumental success.
So...how does this affect the rest of our orthodontic family? (Thank you for asking.) We will be soon be purchasing the digital scanner and begin taking digital impressions for fabricating retainers and orthodontic models. We will be sharing this incredible news with craniofacial teams around our nation and thus impacting the lives of those born with cleft lips and palates in the most positive way. I am confident you will be thankful to say good-bye to alginate impressions for several of our regular procedures. We are extremely excited to bring new technology into our office and help make your orthodontic experience even better. Thank you for your patience and for supporting the babes of our Kelley Orthodontic family through this journey. We could not have done it without YOU! #inthistogether
(Learn more about our heart for these special ones and what Kelley Orthodontics is doing through its mission: Created -4- Compassion.)
Dr. John Kelley