Aligners? Maybe – not my cup of tea, but maybe.

Class II correctors? No way!

NiTi Wires? Well, it’s been a bit longer than 20 years…

Straightwire appliances? Again, more than 20 years since introduction.

Self-ligation: Passive or otherwise? Hardly.

Same day starts? Nope.

Extending financing beyond treatment time? Nah.

Auto-Drafting monthly payments? Getting warmer.

In my mind, the greatest innovation in orthodontics in the last 20 years is the result of the advent of elastic/super elastic wires combined with the adoption of auto-drafting. Proper implementation of this modern marvel in your practice can double or even triple your capacity with zero cost and without working any more than you are working now. All this in a day and age when every vendor out there wants to sell you expensive technology that will “increase capacity” or “decrease chair time” or “shorten treatment time” even though, as a specialty, we are not at capacity, need time to finance treatment to make it affordable and are not exactly swimming in cash. What is this magic bullet?

Extended Appointment Intervals

Those of you who are already utilizing EAI know what I mean. Those of you who still cling to a 4-week interval between appointments need to listen up. As an industry we used to do 4-week intervals to make sure we saw the patient monthly and got paid monthly. It’s that plain and simple. Maybe back in the days of gold archwires we legitimately needed to see patients that often but steel has been around for a long time. Now that we have elastic and super elastic wires there is no reason at all to see patients more often than every 8-10 weeks – especially when they are in the leveling and aligning stages of treatment. It’s less painful and more convenient to the patient, the wires are designed to deliver light forces over an extended period of time (and that is the best way to move teeth when it comes to the biology of tooth movement) AND we have all had a patient run off and disappear from the practice for 6 months while in a small NiTi wire only to return with really nice looking alignment (if you haven’t yet you will at some point) so we know it’s effective. Long story short, extending appointment intervals is good for everyone involved and it is awesome for your business.

I can almost hear you now because we orthodontists are so predictable in worrying about the outliers… yes there will special circumstances when the interval needs to be shorter. So make the intervals in those cases shorter but don’t do it across your entire patient population just because of a few outliers! Few things in life are free as well as being effective and efficient. Extending your appointment intervals is.

There is zero downside other than having to change.

One thought on “What’s the Greatest Innovation in Orthodontics in the Last 20 Years?

  1. We get a little resistance from some minority cash patients that said they don’t have a bank account or credit card. Do you have an automatic withdrawal solution for these patients? Without a SSN I get nervous extending payment plans. Any Suggestions?

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