I usually start the New Year with a post about the benefits of orthodontics and encouraging those who are thinking about treatment to take their first step towards getting the smile they have always wanted. This year, in a break from previous years, I’m going to write about what I think we might see happening, from a patients perspective, in orthodontics in 2018.

Faster orthodontic treatment – with the unstoppable demand for faster treatment I would expect to see more devices and solutions entering the market claiming to offer faster results. These claims will, of course, be challenged by those awaiting the results of evidence based clinical trials so from a patients perspective, more confusion as to whether you can shave a few months off treatment time.

The continued growth of aligners – It has been a great year for Invisalign with them recently announcing their 5 millionth patient. I would expect to see the growth of treatment with aligners continuing to grow strongly with new aligner systems either entering the market or existing ones being more heavily marketed to gain a stronger position in the market. Either way, I don’t see this slowing up any time soon.

Further blurring of the lines – there is already some confusion between specialist Orthodontists and Dentists offering orthodontics and I can foresee, with better patient focussed marketing, this continuing to happen as more general dental practices see the benefits of expanding their portfolio to reach this growing market.

A strong demand for Orthodontic Therapists – specialist practices that have employed orthodontic therapists would have seen the huge benefits these skilled individuals provide to both the efficiency of the practice and for patients. One area of growth that hasn’t really taken hold yet is the use of Orthodontic Therapists in dental practices offering orthodontics. Therapists do not have to be supervised by an Orthodontist but by a ‘Dentist competent in undertaking orthodontic treatment’ so this is one area that will potentially fuel a rapid increase in the demand for Orthodontic Therapists.

Digital orthodontics – so many more practices are promoting their new scanners as an improvement on alginate impressions (I can’t disagree) and from a patient perspective, this removes one of the barriers to starting treatment. Where I can see this making a huge difference for the patient is in the ability for Orthodontists to show the ‘finished results’ by digitally straightening the teeth. And with that, they have brought the patient one step closer to agreeing to start treatment.

Retention and retainers – the British Orthodontic Society launched a great campaign last year to promote the use of retainers and to educate patients on the need for retention to avoid relapse. But from a patients perspective, retainers have a limited shelf life and their replacement is not straightforward. In reality it is, but life get’s in the way and there’s always the alginate impressions to look forward too (as once you have left the practice, you would have no idea they have upgraded to the latest scanner). I would expect to see some practices looking at this and offering improved post treatment services aimed at offering regular replacement retainers.

The continued growth of adult orthodontics – adult patients make up a sizeable percentage of the patients undertaking treatment and I can’t see this slowing up anytime soon. In 2017 we saw fashion models applauded for taking to the catwalk with braces proudly worn and several celebrities openly talking about their ongoing treatment. With so many different treatment options available, high consumer awareness and a large number of treatment providers, I would expect 2018 to be another busy year for orthodontics.

The rise of the UK blogger – YouTube is a popular place for patients to share their orthodontic experiences but to date, there have not been many UK bloggers posting content. This includes those working in the profession! We have seen the ‘Singing Dentist’ rise to fame with some great content but isn’t is about time we uncovered a star or two in orthodontics?

Well that’s my thoughts for the coming year. Let me know what you think.

Have a great 2018 and thanks for visiting!

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