3 Insights from the American Association of Orthodontics Meeting

Beautiful location and sunny weather aside, the very well attended American Association of Orthodontics meeting (AAO) brought business sense to the art and science of orthodontics.   Many of the courses attempted to bring clarity to what dentistry will be like in the future along with recommendations on what changes can be made within dental practices today.  From courses on MegaTrends in Dentistry, Sleep Apnea, Airway, Occlusion and walking the floor of the exhibit hall, 3 themes emerged.

  1. Review the numbers to support your practice mission and goals. To name just a few:
    1. In 2007, right before our economy turned downward, we experienced the largest growth in new births in the US.  That means for the next few years you will be seeing many children around the age of 10 going through your practices.
    2. A growing number of pediatric dentists are graduating from dental school.
    3. Of the overall number of graduating dental students, many are joining the more than 2,200 group practices mostly concentrated in larger cities.
    4. The biggest area of growth in orthodontics is adult exams. While there are about 2.8 million orthodontic cases in North America, there are another 70 – 100 million people who could benefit from orthodontic treatment.

What does this mean for you?  Building partnerships with pediatric dentists could provide continuous care stream for your patients over the next few years.   Your differentiation will need to be the customer experience and new services that meet the needs of the adult population.

  1. Social networking is critical to reach the millennial moms. To reach today’s consumer you need more than a web site.
    1. 64% of millennial consumers want to make appointments without talking to someone.
    2. 90% of this group will consult a review before choosing a treatment or dental office.
    3. Today’s Grandparents are very involved with the families and should be included in your marketing plans.

Advertising online can be less expensive than past methods as you can speak with images and share searchable solutions.  The ability to snapchat with customers and find mom bloggers were some of the new types of services they suggested you consider.

  1. At a minimum, dental practices should be adding sleep related questions to patient questionnaires. While the role of dentists relating to sleep
    Dentistry, Sleep Apnea, Airway, Occlusion, sleep bruxism monitor
    Nox T3 allows monitoring sleep apnea and sleep quality at home

    disordered breathing is still being debated, almost all agree that tools such as the Stop-Bang questionnaire should be used.  For those that want to be more proactive and have the security of documentation in their files, home sleep monitoring systems are being used by dentists to screen and measure airway.  The lower end home monitoring systems provide numbers on oxygen desaturation with heart rate summaries while more advanced systems provide effort related airway events as well as the number of apneic events (AHI).

Sleep Medicine doctors, Pediatrics, Orthodontists, and ENT have a common goal.  These specialties working together can identify airway issues and improve quality of life.  For children, apnea events of more than 1 per hour can impact growth and development as well as their concentration and learning abilities.  For adults, studies have shown strong links between sleep apnea and strokes, diabetes, and heart attacks.  Dentists, and orthodontist in specific, may be the first to notice the signs and symptoms of limited airway based on size of tonsils, small palates, scalloped tongue, and anterior wear.

In addition, the buzz in the exhibit hall seemed to be centered on 3D printing.  Of the various printers available, point of differentiation included material selection, build plate sizes, and open or closed systems.  Many orthodontists were interested in saving time by printing models from their intra-oral scans.

Annual meetings such as this are a place where dentists, staff, educators, and manufacturers are able to get together and learn, share, and enjoy being a part of dentistry.


Lorena Lighthart

Lorena Lighthart

Lorena Lighthart is the Product Manager for the Clinical products division at Whip Mix. She has worked in the dental industry for over 30 years. Lorena works with a myriad of experts in the field to bring new products to market that support functional occlusion, esthetics, and healthy sleep.

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