Aligner therapy and aligner technology are rapidly growing and evolving within the orthodontic and dental professions. Driven in part by patients requiring more esthetic treatment modalities, our increased understanding of aligner therapy, and the advancement in aligner treatment planning and delivery, aligners have changed the deliverables for plastic from a decade ago. The capabilities and uses as well as case selection have advanced significantly over the years and now have a place in each practice. In fact in our own offices, they’ve grown in use from being less than 2% ten years ago to far more than that today and many practices have seen similar increases in aligner utilization.
Recently, Dentsply Sirona introduced the SureSmile Aligner platform. We were curious to learn what was behind the digital platform and aligner technology, and subsequently, we immersed ourselves in learning about the system since last July and have recently started treating patients with it.
Initial reaction on the notable features of SureSmile is the expansive breadth and depth of the software’s functionality and design of the aligner trays. The software provides for key case insights and options while the aligner cut and material help achieve the required clinical control.
The SureSmile process begins with a robust treatment planning interface. You have the ability to view multiple patient parameters on one or more screens and have the opportunity to modify how your screen looks depending upon your diagnostic preferences. Each case starts with the SureSmile digital lab stitching the scanned dentition to a frontal smiling photo, which really helps in planning the case with function and esthetics in mind. Furthermore, SureSmile sets the occlusal plane according to natural head position, which is a helpful diagnostic starting point. Understanding the overarching impact of movement that you are intending for the patient and also being able to visualize how that impacts the face is incredibly helpful.
With SureSmile, you can also import the CBCT scan into the digital case workup, allowing you to understand the biologic space and orthodontic envelope of discrepancy for the patient. Viewing the net root and crown movements in 3D elevates our understanding of treatment impact and drives us further forward on creating plans based on more data. By understanding there are biologic exceptions and boundaries that we must be cognizant of, SureSmile helps us achieve the treatment outcomes that we want for our patients. One of the ways we can instill patient confidence in our profession versus alternative solutions is to demonstrate a true health value beyond just aligning teeth. This means identifying true etiologic factors and producing solutions that mitigate future risks in a predictable, stable, and long-term manner.
When moving teeth with aligners specifically, it’s helpful to quantify the incremental movements for each tray. We found the SureSmile software’s power to view these step-by-step movements for each tray. This type of data helps in understanding if movements are achievable by a single tray. This is in contrast to having total quantified movements getting amortized over a series of trays and the clinician having to assume that no one tray had unreasonable expectations in regard to tooth movement. There is also the option to view the movements across all trays (cumulative movement), but we found the incremental values to be the most helpful. Knowledge of each staged series of movements was important in planning the case, and we see it as a great learning tool as we increase our experience with more complex aligner and hybrid cases.
In summation, SureSmile seems to give users access to a trove of clinical and diagnostic information. The SureSmile algorithm quantifies all the movements while giving clinicians control they need including the ability to modify or reject any tray that they feel is trying to accomplish too much. With such large and comprehensive data analytics, the SureSmile treatment planning software seemingly delivers on the needs of all case types and clinician preferences.
With this level of control and precision comes a more intricate and comprehensive interface. There is a learning curve with the software as is true with all new technology, and in particular, with the SureSmile software, where there are a lot of features of which one can take advantage. Change can be intimidating, and we also felt that at the outset. We did find that the SureSmile clinical and technical support helped to make the change less intimidating and transitions easier.
Everything considered, the SureSmile platform delivered on what we were looking for as orthodontists seeking high quality outcomes and comprehensive diagnostic capabilities. The patients found the aligners to meet if not exceed their expectations, and the results are holding true to the planned treatment. We look forward to continuing the journey, and best of all, it lets us be a part of a movement for our team, our patients, and ourselves of which we can be proud.