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Orthodontic Technology: The Basics, Types, and Recent Advances

by | April 11, 2023

From traditional metal braces to clear aligners, the orthodontic industry has undergone a transformational journey. With more advanced treatment technology, the industry offers a better, faster, and more convenient experience for both patients and professionals alike.

In this blog, we’ll delve into the world of orthodontics, exploring the various treatment options available and the latest orthodontic technology trends that are reshaping the industry.

So, buckle up and get ready to explore the cutting-edge world of orthodontic technology!

What is Orthodontic Technology?

Orthodontic technology is a type of dental technology used to design dental appliances that help correct dental, bite, and jaw problems.

Such problems are usually caused by various factors, like irregularly placed teeth, disproportionate jaw alignment, and poor oral habits.

The good news?

Orthodontic treatment can help fix these issues and prevent more serious dental problems from developing.

Next, let’s explore some of the main types of orthodontic technology available today.

6 Types of Modern Orthodontic Technology

Here are several types of modern orthodontic technology:

1. Braces

While braces have been around for almost 300 years, they are constantly improving, with new types of braces emerging on the market.

Traditional Metal Braces

Metal braces consist of metal brackets attached to each tooth. All brackets are connected with a wire. When the teeth need adjustment, the wire is tightened. This applies pressure to the teeth and moves them into the correct position gradually.

Fun fact: Did you know NASA originally created the wires used in such braces?

While these braces are very effective and used for various orthodontic problems, they’re quite noticeable and may not be the best option for more self-conscious patients.

Thank goodness for alternative brace options!

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces are just as effective as traditional braces.

The downside?

They’re less durable, so often, they’re used in combination with metal braces.

However, ceramic braces remain a popular option among patients who want a more discreet solution since their color blends with the color of their teeth.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are placed behind the teeth, facing your tongue. This makes them invisible from the front, so they’re another great option for patients who want discreet treatment.

The not-so-obvious disadvantage?

They’re more difficult to clean and may take longer to get used to.

2. Clear Aligners

This latest braces technology is increasing in popularity as it is a great alternative to braces. In 2022, its market size reached USD 6.29 billion and is expected to grow to over USD 46.3 billion by 2030.

So if you’re not ready to commit to braces, aligners are a great go-to option.

Their biggest advantage? They’re almost invisible when you wear them, so no one will even notice (unless they stare)!

Aligners are custom-made, clear plastic trays that are worn over the teeth. These plastic trays help move the teeth into the correct position over time. Orthodontists usually give patients a few sets of aligners to make gradual adjustments to the position of their teeth.

Clear aligners are also easy to remove, making them a convenient option for many patients who can’t get used to braces (as they often make brushing their teeth and eating some specific foods harder).

3. Digital Scanners & Impressions

Digital scanning allows orthodontists to create precise impressions of a patient’s teeth.

It’s also more convenient for both patients and orthodontists as it provides more accurate diagnosis, treatment planning, and progress monitoring.

Through digital scanners, professionals can produce retainers and aligners directly from their office, reducing the wait time and improving the collaboration between professionals as all scans are digitally transferred.

4. 3D Technology

While 3D technology is not new in the orthodontics world, it was not as accessible until recent years. This technology helps create custom orthodontic devices with more precision and faster delivery times.  

Digital technologies, such as 3D scanning and imaging software, also help create a more accurate image of your gums, teeth, and jaws, helping specialists evaluate better your dental needs (source: Among these innovations, digital bonding in orthodontics exemplifies the precision and customization possible today, offering a glimpse into the future of patient care.

5. Lasers

Lasers can be used on both soft and hard tissues (depending on the laser wavelength).

For example, intraoral lasers are used to contour the gum tissue to its right position, improving its appearance. As gums can sometimes cover erupting teeth, some lasers can also be used to enhance the accuracy of bracket placement.

Some other advantages of this technology include:

  • Better treatment efficacy
  • Alleviated orthodontic pain
  • Higher orthodontic treatment success


6. Digital Radiography

Radiographs have been used in the industry for decades to assess and diagnose orthodontic problems.

Digital radiography and 3D radiography help to:

  • Improve image processing
  • Reduce radiation
  • Provide more accurate assessment of various dental problems


11 Latest Orthodontic Technology Advances in 2023

The orthodontic industry is developing rapidly. With a market size of USD 7.77 billion in 2022, the sector is projected to grow to USD 26.35 billion by 2029.

Orthodontic technology has rapidly advanced in recent years, and 2023 is no exception. Here are some of the new orthodontic technology advances to look out for:

1. Digital X-rays

Digital X-rays allow orthodontists to take precise images of the inside of a patient’s mouth through radiation. The latest generation of X-rays is more advanced, easier to use, and more cost-efficient. 

The most recent advancements in digital X-rays allow orthodontists to get a more detailed image of oral structures.  

This also helps orthodontists review the image almost instantly so they can explain better to their patients their dental situation. The end result?  Dentists can perform faster diagnosis and achieve higher patient satisfaction.  

2. 3D Dental Imaging with CBCT

One of the latest trends in 3D imaging is the application of cone beam CT (CBCT) scanners. These scanners spread X-rays out in a cone shape, providing a detailed 360-degree overview of a patient’s jaw and oral structure.  

With such a precise and complete scan, doctors can create custom implants and plan better treatments, addressing orthodontic problems more efficiently. 

This technology has become so advanced that it can even detect cancerous formations and other dental conditions that would otherwise not be detected with regular X-rays.  

3. Dental Monitoring with AI

Nobody likes waiting at the dentist’s office. It costs a lot of time, nerves, and money. But monitoring your treatment progress doesn’t have to be as painful, at least not anymore! 

In 2023, AI technology can help you do your dental monitoring remotely. That’s right!  

Some advanced AI-based solutions allow you to scan your mouth with your phone and send the images to your orthodontist. Additionally, AI-based dental monitoring apps can detect different oral conditions, predict tooth movement, and even track your treatment progress. 

The evolution of AI in orthodontics is a testament to how digital innovation is reshaping our approach to dental health, providing unprecedented precision in treatment planning and execution.

4. Intraoral Scanners

Intraoral scanners allow orthodontists to scan a patient’s mouth in a matter of minutes. Besides being quick and easy, this scanning method is also completely pain-free. So, you can ditch the inconvenient mouth impressions once and for all.  

These scanners have become increasingly popular as they provide accurate 3D oral models that can be easily sent to labs. This means all braces, retainers, and aligners can be manufactured faster and more precisely.   

Quote from an expert:

“I think intraoral cameras and digital scanners will become the norm in every practice at every appointment. AI might take a bit longer to adapt to. As professionals who focus on prevention, we need to shift the conversation from aesthetics to longevity. If you asked every person if they hope to have all their teeth for a lifetime, my guess is they would all say, yes. ” says Steph Nightingale, Dental Hygienist at Stimmie.

5. Nickel and Copper-Titanium Wires

An increasing number of orthodontic companies have started producing nickel and copper-titanium wires as orthodontists prefer them to metal ones. 

A few benefits that make these wires increasingly popular in 2023 are that they: 

  • Respond faster to the heat in the mouth  
  • Tighten better when the teeth shift naturally 
  • Provide better consistency from archwire to archwire 
  • Ensure consistency of force from batch to batch 
  • Allow doctors to choose different force/temperature correlation 

6. Self-ligating Braces

The self-ligating braces market is expected to grow from $355 million in 2022 to $717 million in 2033.  

But what are self-ligating braces and why are they increasing in popularity?  

Self-ligating braces are a new braces technology that uses a sliding mechanism to hold the wire in place, eliminating the need for elastic ties. Such braces are more comfortable and allow for more efficient tooth movement and fewer appointments for adjustments.  

They’re also less visible than traditional braces, so they’re suitable for patients who want a more aesthetic treatment option. 

7. Temporary Anchorage Devices (TADs)

Temporary anchorage devices are mini-screws made of titanium. They’re usually placed in the gum between the teeth. They’re mostly used in oral surgeries, but recently orthodontists have started using them to help anchor and shift more stubborn teeth. 

Installing TADs is quick and pain-free. Additionally, cleaning TADs doesn’t require any complicated procedures. Once the teeth are aligned, TADs can be easily removed. 

8. Robotic Wire Bending Technology

Robotic wire bending technology has become more advanced in recent years. In combination with CAD/CAM scanners, it can now create more precise wiring for lingual braces. 

This type of technology has become more widely used as the implementation of robots in manufacturing has advanced significantly in the past decade. With robotic wire bending, manufacturing of different orthodontic braces and other devices is more efficient, stable, and accurate than ever before. 

9. 4D Technology in Aligner Manufacturing

In the past year, researchers found that 4D aligners can successfully correct the position of your teeth. 4D aligners are created using 3D printer technology and shape memory polymers.  

What makes 4D aligners better than regular clear aligners? 

The material they’re made of shows promise as a more environmentally friendly alternative to clear aligners and decreases the price of aligner treatment. That’s because 4D aligners can change their shape over time based on the surroundings. 

10. Custom Smile Design Software

Advanced software now helps orthodontists deliver the perfect smile customized to each patient’s unique features.  

The software aids the process by taking into consideration factors like the person’s teeth, inter-oral tissue, jaw, face structure, and smile. This enables orthodontists to create aesthetic and balanced modifications with precise measures, proportion, and symmetry. 

The smile design software uses 3D images and dental impressions to show patients what their smile would look like based on their chosen treatment. It also helps orthodontists customize the treatment plan for each patient based on their individual needs and specifics.  

11. Accelerated Orthodontics

Your patients want beautiful straight teeth but don’t have the patience for it?  

Faster treatment is becoming a reality in 2023!  

Accelerated orthodontics is a newer treatment approach that uses advanced technology (e.g., micro-osteoperforations and high-frequency vibration) to speed up the movement of teeth.  

This technology can significantly reduce treatment time and is a good option for patients with busy schedules or those who want to see results faster. 

Final Thoughts

Orthodontic technology has progressed tremendously in recent years, offering patients a wide range of treatment options to choose from.  

The latest orthodontic technology advancements have taken orthodontic treatment to a whole new level of precision and efficiency. With 4D aligners, itero scanners, and accelerated orthodontics, patients can enjoy faster and more personalized treatment plans.  

Whether you’re a patient or a practitioner, it’s an exciting time to be part of the world of orthodontics, with advanced technology and innovation paving the way for a brighter, healthier smile. 

And if you’re an orthodontist searching for a cutting-edge software solution for your orthodontics practice, Scopic is here to help! We create modern, HIPAA-compliant software to bring your business to the next level. Contact us to learn how we can create custom orthodontic software tailored to your specific needs, or check out our roundup of the top 10 orthodontic software to get started.

If you would like to start a project, feel free to contact us today.
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