Dubbed the World's Greatest Celebration of Orthodontics, the American Association of Orthodontics annual session was held in Chicago from Apr 21 - 24 2023. The AAO with over 19k members worldwide is the single biggest orthodontic organization. Even though the AAO annual session is not quite the definitive event it used to be, with the increasing popularity of several smaller are more focused meetings as well as virtual learning platforms, it still is where thousands of orthodontists and their teams show up to learn about the latest and the greatest innovations in the Orthodontic world.
This year, the AAO's tagline was "Because Community Matters" After several years of missing big meetings, several of us have missed the connections and community that can only be experienced in person. Showing up at the AAO and learning, collaborating, or simply catching up with our colleagues in the industry felt like a blessing.
There were definitely noticeable trends in the educational content being delivered at the meeting by several experts in their fields. The exhibit hall with all the latest technology and services on display also pointed to certain big-picture patterns. Here are some of my KEY Takeaways from this year's AAO meeting
The future is Digital: Digital workflow has been the buzzword for the last few years. With the increasing access to 3D technology and integration of AI in orthodontic processes, digital workflow is going to become the norm worldwide, rather than the exception. 3D imaging and scanner that were considered progressive just a few short years ago are increasingly becoming the new standard of care. Digital treatment planning with advanced elements like the ability to trace a ceph or customize placement of brackets, devices, or even clear aligner buttons is being offered by cutting-edge vendors. Several PMS companies are also creating modules that will enable offices to embrace a fully digital practice model.
Digital customized braces: Whether it's Lightforce, Braces on demand. KLOwen or other lingual systems like Inbrace or Brius, digitally customized braces continue to make their presence felt. The ability to drastically cut down on chair time by reducing the number of appointments to get to the desired smile outcome is what these systems promise their customers. Treatment efficiency and better outcomes continue to drive more orthodontists to adopt these systems and justify the higher lab & supply costs.
Clear Aligners Boom: Even though Invisalign is the market leader in this area, the clear aligner vendor options continue to grow. Spark, Angel Aligners, Clear Correct, U labs, and several others continue to make improvements to their user interface and treatment planning software as well as the actual aligner systems to compete for a piece of the clear aligner market share. Orthodontists today definitely have more choices when it comes to choosing the right clear aligner system to offer to their patients.
Digital Treatment Monitoring: Dental Monitoring, Grin, Invisalign virtual tracking, and some others provide AI-driven, and technologically advanced options to track treatment progress remotely. More and more efficiency-driven doctors find it compelling to invest in these remote treatment monitoring options for their patients to transition most of their appointments to on-demand. A heavy reduction in the total in-office appointments needed is definitely the trend for the future.
Technology to watch: Some new and exciting technology like memory shape aligners and retainers, in-office wire bending robots, automatic aligner trimmers, etc were on display at the AAO. As these technologies continue to grow and evolve they have the potential to improve the aligners, retainers, and other devices we offer our patients.
3D printing: If the number of lectures about 3D printing for ortho offices is any indication, the trends definitely point to in-office 3D printers soon becoming a part of the required equipment list at an orthodontic practice. The decreasing cost of printers along with faster printing times will continue to make this more affordable and practical for orthodontic offices to utilize in their practice workflow,
The landscape of Orthodontics continues to evolve in many exciting (and sometimes scary) ways. If you need help in choosing or integrating any technology or systems in your practice, don't hesitate to contact us.