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A technological advance for patients with Invisalign braces is the use of your own smartphone for dental monitoring. A dental monitoring app is loaded onto your smartphone just like any other software application.
The app reminds you to take a picture of your teeth at regular intervals. The photos are uploaded by the app to the cloud, where they are used to measure the movement of your teeth due to your braces. These measurements are available to your orthodontist, who can use them to advise you when to advance to the next aligner.
In addition to helping your orthodontist become more productive, dental monitoring apps also have benefits to you. Here are five ways dental monitoring apps benefit patients with braces:
By calculating accurate measurements through the periodic photos, your orthodontist has precise data to determine the effectiveness of your braces. While office visits have been, and continue to be, effective ways for your orthodontist to monitor your progress, your orthodontist lacks the measurements that can be calculated using a dental monitoring app.
This level of precision allows the dental monitoring app to compare the movement of your teeth to the treatment plan that was designed when your aligners were created. Based on this comparison, the orthodontist can identify when your current aligner has moved your teeth to the extent expected for that aligner, and when your teeth are in position for the next aligner in the set.
Before dental monitoring apps, orthodontists needed to rely on generalizations, such as wearing each aligner for about two weeks. With dental monitoring apps, orthodontic treatment is personalized rather than generalized.
Most patients for braces are between eight and 14 years old. This means that orthodontic appointments require time out of the patient’s day, but also time from the parent or guardian. With school, work, and other activities, it can be difficult to schedule office visits for orthodontic check-ups. A dental monitoring app allows the orthodontist to remain in contact with the patient in spite of both their busy schedules.
Photos submitted through dental monitoring apps can be taken at any convenient time. Moreover, the time to take the necessary photos is much less than the time to drive to the orthodontist’s office, complete the office visit, and drive home again. As a result, dental monitoring apps eliminate late, missed, or rescheduled appointments.
Your orthodontist will likely substitute virtual office visits conducted using the dental monitoring app for physical office visits. Although every patient has a different treatment plan, the dental monitoring app enables some orthodontists to schedule in-person office visits once every three months rather than monthly. This makes the orthodontist more efficient in your treatment, as well as reducing the time and energy you need to devote to office visits.
Although you will likely see your orthodontist less frequently when you use a dental monitoring app, your orthodontist can monitor the progress of your Invisalign braces more closely than with physical office visits. Again, every treatment plan is different. However, orthodontists can request weekly or bi-weekly photos. Most reasonable orthodontists would not require weekly or bi-weekly office visits. But for cases that require close monitoring, weekly or bi-weekly updates via the dental monitoring app is simple and does not consume a great deal of time.
There are many circumstances in which an office visit is not practical. For example, college or boarding school students may not live where their orthodontist’s office is located. Similarly, vacations, business trips, school trips, and other travel plans may take you away from the city where your orthodontist practices.
In these situations, the orthodontist can continue to monitor the progress of your braces using the app while you are away. When you return, the orthodontist can squeeze in an office visit to inspect your teeth in a more hands-on manner.
Dental monitoring apps provide many benefits to patients. Your time commitment for office visits and the overall number of office visits will likely decrease. This reduction does not adversely affect treatment, however. Dental monitoring apps can result in more precise and more frequent monitoring of your teeth and braces. Moreover, these apps enable remote monitoring that keeps your orthodontist apprised of your progress regardless of where you are located.
Dr. Alexa Alborzi is a certified orthodontic specialist providing comprehensive orthodontic care for the children, teens, and adults of San Mateo and Half Moon Bay. Dr. Alborzi earned her BA. degree in Biochemistry from University of California, Berkeley was trained at University of California San Francisco, School of Dentistry. Dr. Alborzi has served as a respected professor at the University of San Francisco, School of Dentistry for over fourteen years. Additionally, Dr. Alborzi was voted by her community in 2019 as the Bay Area Best of the Best.