The song is more than 40 years old and it’s still a catchy title for a conference. But what’s it got to do with orthodontics? In the context of the BLOS meeting, the video was a metaphor for Cadcam systems. The aim was to stimulate a debate as to whether orthodontists have been deskilled by the advent of sophisticated digital technology. The answer is no! It’s my firm belief that as clinicians our skills are being enhanced by the power of systems which put us firmly in the driving seat.
The conference was cleverly balanced to feature talks from those like myself who like to invest in a system to enhance what we do and those who prefer to operate in a traditional way, without technology.
During the course of my talk, I showed my favourite screen in the Suresmile system. It can tell me to the nearest fraction of a millimetre how much each tooth will be affected by a change to the treatment plan. I have written in the past about the opportunity the Suresemile software gives me to finesse the patient’s treatment at the end. So, if I need to adjust my treatment plan by, for instance repositioning an anterior tooth, the algorithm underpinning the software alters all the co-ordinates to show me exactly how much the rest of the teeth will move. Genius!
Another benefit of the Suresmile system is that it acts as a communication aide with patients. This is thanks to the complete digital integration of the orthodontic records and processes. The scan of patients’ teeth can be superimposed onto a photograph which I can in turn integrate onto a grid. The patient can observe as I relate the teeth positions to facial planes and also check that the dental midline is centrally located. I can show the patient their teeth and how they bite and I can give them a visual simulation of the difference that treatment will make. They can then ask questions. It’s so much easier to explain what you are trying to achieve if the patient can see their teeth accurately represented in front of them. They can ask you to move the digital images of their teeth to help them explain what they want to achieve.
Back to the theme
But my talk explaining the benefits of Suresmile was just one of several presentations. The conference concluded with a discussion on the topic of Cadcam and its contribution. Interestingly, although we used varying systems, we all agreed on the importance of traditional orthodontic skills. It’s important to stay connected with the fundamentals.
I was prompted to recall for the benefit of the audience an old Russian proverb: Dwell on the past and you will lose one eye, forget the past and you will lose both eyes.
By this I mean that we must always honour great traditions but not at the expense of developing future technologies. So to sum up, video hasn’t killed the radio star in the same way that traditional orthodontic techniques live on despite the Cadcam revolution.