Make the Most of Your Flex Spending Account

Utilize your 2016 dollars before they are lost, and plan accordingly for 2017

November 28, 2016 02:19 PM Eastern Standard Time 

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The California Association of Orthodontists would like to remind consumers to check their flexible spending accounts (FSA) and ensure all dollars have been utilized before they expire. Most FSA programs have a firm start and end date, which means the dollars must be used or they are lost. For this same reason, it is also the right time to think about contributions for 2017. Determining the right amount to contribute – not too much or too little – will help consumers maximize their tax benefit.

To help utilize remaining 2016 dollars, and to plan for 2017 contributions, a visit to the family orthodontist specialist might be timely.

“Your orthodontist can help identify any treatment that may be needed in 2017 to better assist you in planning for your 2017 flex spending account,” said Dr. Mary Cooke, a member of the California Association of Orthodontists and the American Association of Orthodontists. “We want to help you maximize your flex savings benefits.”

An FSA is a benefit usually offered through an employer. The plan allows someone to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for eligible health care expenses for themselves, their spouse or their family. Though the reimbursement process for orthodontia may be different than other health care expenses, it does qualify as an approved expense for flex spending accounts.

There are multiple ways to use flex spending dollars for orthodontic treatments. If the patient pays for the full cost of treatment during a plan year, they can be reimbursed for the full amount within that same year. Patients also have the option for monthly reimbursements after the initial treatment fees.

“Orthodontists are well-versed on the guidelines and usage of flex spending accounts,” said Dr. Cooke. “We can help you understand the best approach and make sure you are working within the guidelines of your plan.”

About Orthodontists and the California Association of Orthodontists

Orthodontists are specialists and have an additional 3,000+ hours of orthodontic training after dental school during their residency. Comparing an orthodontist to a dentist is analogous to comparing a medical specialist to your primary care physician. Like the family doctor, dentists are excellent at covering a wide range of general issues. You should consult an orthodontist to treat more complex alignment and orthodontic cases.

The California Association of Orthodontists is a chapter of the American Association of Orthodontists, the world’s oldest and largest dental specialty organization. It represents more than 18,000 orthodontist members throughout the United States, Canada and abroad. The Association admits only orthodontists for membership. It encourages and sponsors key research to enable members to provide patients with the highest quality of care, and is committed to educating the public about the need for, and benefits of, orthodontic treatment. For more information go to mylifemysmile.org.


Prevent Accidents - but know what to do if one occurs

Mouth guards are one of the least expensive pieces of protective gear available. They can help prevent
or minimize tooth and jaw injuries. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends mouth guards
be worn any time the teeth could come into contact with a ball, a hard object, another player or the
pavement. The recommendation applies to organized sports as well as leisure activities like bicycling.
If a mouth guard is not worn and an injury occurs, follow these first aid tips.

Broken Teeth

• Clean the injured area and put an ice pack on the lip or gum.
• Cover any exposed area with sterile gauze.
• Save the tip of the tooth (for possible reattachment) and call your family or pediatric dentist right away.
• Store the tooth fragment in water.

Loosened Teeth

An accident can cause a tooth to come loose from the socket. a tooth can be:
• Pushed into the socket (intruded)
• Knocked part way out of the socket (extruded)
• Pushed sideways, but still in the socket (luxated)

What to do:
• Apply an ice pack to the injury.
• You may attempt to gently push an extruded tooth back into the socket.
• Call your family or pediatric dentist for immediate attention. Early stabilization is the best chance
for the tooth to reattach itself.

Knocked Out Tooth - Time is Critical

A tooth might be saved if cared for properly and reimplanted as soon as possible. Timely treatment
may improve the chances of reattaching an injured tooth.
• Call your family or pediatric dentist for immediate attention.
• Locate the tooth; hold it by the crown (the wide part, not the pointed end/root).
• Remove large pieces of debris, but avoid rubbing or touching the root.
• Rinse the tooth. Do not scrub. If using a sink, be sure to put the plug in the sink so that the tooth
will not go down the drain if it is dropped.
• Attempt to gently put the clean tooth back in its socket. Cover with gauze or tissue and bite down
to stabilize it, if possible, or hold the tooth in its socket until seen by the dentist.
• If the tooth cannot be put back into its socket, store the tooth in liquid until you see the dentist.
Put the tooth in milk or sterile saline solution (contact lens solution with no preservatives). Do not
soak or store the tooth in water because water will kill the cells on the root that are vital for
successful reimplantation. If milk or saline solution are unavailable, the tooth can be stored in the
cheek where saliva will help provide vitality to the root surface. If stored in the cheek, be careful
not to swallow the tooth.
• Do not let the tooth dry out.

Jaw Injury

If teeth appear to fit together properly when the mouth is closed:
• Apply ice to control swelling.
• Restrict diet to soft foods and if no improvement occurs within 24 hours, seek dental care
to rule out subtle injuries.
• If in doubt at any time, contact your dentist or seek medical attention.
If teeth do not fit together properly when the mouth is closed:
• Seek emergency medical attention.



New Study Reports Young Children with Severely Protruding Teeth 

May Benefit from Early Orthodontic Intervention

St. Louis. January 28, 2016 — Young children (ages 6-10) with severely protruded upper front
teeth, commonly called “buck teeth,” are at increased risk for dental trauma and may benefit
from an orthodontic correction, according to a study published recently in the American Journal
of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics*. The study found that approximately 1 in 3
children who were treated for severely protruding teeth were less likely to experience dental
trauma (such as a chipped, broken or knocked out permanent tooth).

“Active children who play organized sports or love the playground and who have severely
protruding teeth may benefit from early intervention by an orthodontist,” says Morris N. Poole,
DDS, president of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO).

“Youngsters with protruding teeth don’t have adequate lip coverage to protect their teeth from a
blow or a fall. The result of losing or damaging a front tooth in childhood becomes a lifelong
problem. We only get one set of permanent teeth, and the corrective measures to restore or
replace a broken or lost tooth can be expensive, and likely will need to be repeated over the
course of a lifetime.”

According to the study, protruding teeth occur in about 15 percent of children ages 12 - 15 in the
U.S. and is one of the most common problems treated by orthodontists. Early intervention
(before adolescence) is warranted in some cases, say the study’s authors. The AAO recommends
that all children get a check-up with an orthodontist no later than age 7. If a check-up reveals a
child will need orthodontic treatment at some point, the orthodontist will be able to recommend
the most appropriate treatment at the most appropriate time.

“Protruding front teeth cause other problems for children. The ‘bite’ – the manner in which the
upper and lower teeth meet – may be improper, and make it difficult for a child to bite food or to
chew properly. The condition can interfere with speech for some individuals. And there’s an
emotional toll, too, for children who may be bullied because of their teeth,” says Dr. Poole. 
“Interceptive treatment addresses the immediate protrusion problem. Parents need to know that
most patients will require a second phase of treatment after most or all of their permanent teeth
are in to move teeth into their final, optimal positions.”

“Parents should also understand that children go through what we call an ‘ugly duckling’ phase,
when permanent teeth begin to emerge and seem too large or appear to be spaced incorrectly,”
Dr. Poole says. “Most children will ‘grow into’ their teeth and go through this phase without the
need for orthodontic treatment. But for those children whose teeth protrude significantly, I
recommend parents take their child to an orthodontist for an evaluation.”



AAO’s Find an Orthodontist service at www.mylifemysmile.org can locate nearby AAOmembers. Orthodontists are specialists in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of patients who have misaligned teeth and/or jaws. After graduating from dental school, prospective orthodontists are required to successfully complete 2-3 additional academic years of study in orthodontics at an accredited orthodontic residency program. Only those with this level of formal education may call themselves “orthodontists.” Only orthodontists are admitted for membership in the AAO.

*Thiruvenkatachari, Badri; Harrison, Jayne; Worthington, Helen; O’Brien, Kevin. “Early orthodontic treatment for Class II malocclusion reduces the chance of incisal trauma: Results of a Cochrane systematic review.” American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics 2015 July; 148:47-59 

About the American Association of Orthodontists
Founded in 1900, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is the world’s oldest and largest
dental specialty organization. It represents 18,000 orthodontist members throughout the United States,
Canada and abroad. The AAO encourages and sponsors key research to enable its members to provide the
highest quality of care to patients, and is committed to educating the public about the need for, and
benefits of, orthodontic treatment.


Guide to food choices and preparation hints for patients with temporomandibular disorders

The Journal of the American Dental Association - August 2016






  • Peel all fruits with hard or chewy skin (for example, apples, peaches, plums, pears).
  • Chop whole (peeled) fruits.
  • Use the blender to puree or “sauce” any fruits
  • Make smoothies with any peeled fruits in the blender, adding ice, milk (cow, soy, almond), or yogurt.









  •  Wash, steam, or cook greens such as spinach, chard, kale, or collards for 2 to 3 minutes, finely chop into a ribbonlike thickness.
  •  Chop tomatoes.
  • Peel and finely chop cucumbers.
  • Peel and either shred or finely chop or mince root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, or beets. If chopped, cook after chopping.
  • Cook broccoli, cauliflower, or other similar vegetables until tender, then chop.
  • For patients who like “juicing,” suggest that they juice or make smoothies with any vegetables by following the juicing machine instructions. Similarly, if the patient is unable to eat whole pieces of vegetables, suggest making vegetable soups and purees.
  • Peel, cook until tender, and chop other vegetables with skin.
  • Cook, chop, and mash potatoes (white or sweet).
  • As needed or desired, use a blender to convert vegetables into juices or try purchasing commercial vegetable or tomato juices.


 Legumes and Nuts

  • Cook legumes and mash or puree legumes that are larger than the size of a pea.
  • Use nut butters (any nuts can be used).


Protein Foods

  • Cook poultry or meats until tender; moisten with broth, gravies, or other sauces; and cut into bite-size pieces.
  • Cook and cut fish into bite-size pieces, soften with sauces as desired; make into tuna salad.
  • Chop tofu and tempeh into bite-size pieces; tempeh may need moistening.


Dairy and Nonlactose Products

  • Consume all milk products, yogurt, and cheese as tolerated.


Dairy Alternatives

  • If the patient experiences difficulty or is unable to eat protein foods or nut butters, try alternatives such as meal replacement beverages (for example, instant breakfast and whey protein beverages or powder).



  • Prepare hot cereals.
  • Try couscous, quinoa, farro, rice, and other cooked grains.
  • Cook orzo and other small pasta until tender.
  • Cut thin toast into small pieces.

Note. The extent to which foods may be cut, chopped, or pureed varies with the extent of the patient’s discomfort or pain and jaw opening. The guidelines provided are intended to help patients select healthful and preferred foods and enjoy eating. Overall principles include the following: cut all foods well, select moist foods or use gravies or sauces to moisten foods to a comfortable consistency, peel fruits (with the exception of berries) and vegetables that have skin, chop whole foods to consistencies that can be comfortably tolerated, limit jaw opening to the extent that is comfortable, take small bites of food, and chew slowly.



Information on Sealants

The Journal of the American Dental Association - August 2016

 Have you ever noticed how uneven the chewing surfaces are on your back teeth? That’s because these teeth (your molars) have pits and grooves. Though these pits and grooves help grind food, they also can make it easier for cavities to develop.

Cavities occur when acid breaks down the hard, protective enamel surface of the tooth. Plaque is a thin film of bacteria that coats everyone’s teeth all the time. When you eat, the bacteria in plaque produce the acids that can break down tooth enamel. Brushing your teeth and cleaning between them helps remove the plaque and food particles that can cause this breakdown, so these are 2 important things that you can do to reduce your risk of developing decay. However, it is difficult to clean inside the pits and grooves on your molars with a toothbrush. Luckily, sealants can protect your teeth from decay by filling in those pits and grooves, keeping food and plaque out. Sealants may even stop very early stages of tooth decay from going on to form a cavity

What are sealants?

Usually, sealants are made of a special type of plastic, although sometimes other dental materials may be used. The sealant is applied in a thin coat to the chewing surfaces of your molars. It covers the deep pits and grooves that put you at risk of developing tooth decay. “This coverage makes sealants one of the most effective interventions available for prevention of tooth decay,” according to Dr. Alonso Carrasco-Labra, director of the American Dental Association’s Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry. With the exception of an allergy that may exist, there are no known side effects to sealants.

Who should get sealants?

 Children and adults both can benefit from sealants. The earlier in life they are applied, the greater protection sealants offer, but it’s never too late to protect any chewing surface that is free from tooth decay with sealants. Sealants are a good investment for anyone, as they can save time and money down the road because you won’t need to treat tooth decay.1, 3 However, you should check with your insurance carrier to be sure that sealants are covered under your policy.

How are sealants applied?

The dental professional who applies your sealant will need to start with a clean and dry surface. To make sure the sealant forms a strong bond with the tooth, the tooth’s chewing surface will be roughened with a special gel. Then, the gel is wiped off, and the surface of the tooth is dried once more. Finally, the sealant is applied to the tooth. When applied, sealants have the consistency of a gel or paste and then harden into a strong, protective coating. Some sealants require intense light to harden, so your dentist or dental hygienist may shine a light on the molar surface.

How long do sealants last?

Sealants are very durable, and in most cases, hold up for several years. Everyone is different, however, and sometimes sealants need to be reapplied. Your dentist will check them at every visit.


Do Sealants Take the Place of Brushing and Flossing or Dental Visits?

Nothing takes the place of good oral care. Your daily routine should include brushing your teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste (or gel) with fluoride that have the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Flossing goes hand in hand with brushing. Once a day, you should floss or clean between your teeth. This can be done with dental floss or another product made specifically to clean between the teeth, such as prethreaded flossers, tiny brushes that reach between the teeth, water flossers, or wooden plaque removers. Cleaning between your teeth once a day helps remove plaque from between your teeth—another area your toothbrush can't reach.

In addition, you should see your dentist on a regular basis for professional cleanings. Treatments such as topical fluoride, provided by your dentist when needed, also can be important in keeping your teeth cavity-free.

Sealants are easy to apply and, along with good daily care and regular visits to your dentist, they can be part of a complete dental health plan.




The Connection Between Dental Health and Overall Health 

Table 1: An abbreviated evaluation of oral health's hypothesized connection and impact on systemic well-being*

Target population / systemic description

Oral-systemic health connections

Proposed outcome(s) / impact(s)

Cardiovascular disease

Available data indicates a trend toward periodontal-treatment-induced suppression of systemic inflammation related to cardiovascular disease and improvement in endothelial function; however, the current research is not consistent across studies, and gaps in understanding of the connection exist. More information is needed to reach a universal conclusion.8,10

Adults who visited the dentist were less likely to report cardiovascular disease compared to those who did not visit the dentist.8,10

Dental teams can have a positive impact as screeners for undiagnosed hypertension.

Cerebrovascular disease

Proposed mechanisms related to oral health and stroke incidence include: inflammation mediated by a procoagulant state, atherosclerosis mediated by direct microbial invasion of blood vessel wall, and recognized vascular risk factors.11,12

Early research has stated that periodontal disease was found to increase the risk of stroke incidence nearly threefold. However, stroke and oral health intervention studies to provide definitive conclusions are difficult to complete.12

Diabetes mellitus

Diabetes and periodontal disease share a pathogenesis that includes an elevated inflammatory response. When both disease processes are present, an increased immune response (altered inflammatory response) can occur that may potentiate effects of disease.13-14

The impact of poor oral health and dietary intake can have a negative impact on diabetic patients. A total decrease in the actual hemoglobin A1c level is reported to fall between 0.38-0.71 for patients receiving oral health intervention, according to meta-analyses.15-16

Dental care teams can have a positive impact as screeners for undiagnosed diabetes.


Many conditions that affect the oral mucosa occur primary or secondary as biological responses to HIV. The oral cavity can also serve as a source of infection that can disseminate to lymphoid tissues or stimulate systemic inflammatory responses that can lead to negative outcomes for HIV/AIDS patients.17-18

Poor oral health can impede food intake and nutrition, leading to poor absorption of HIV medications. Lack of dental care for HIV patients can negatively affect quality of life. In addition, oral lesions may indicate undiagnosed HIV infection or progression of disease.17-18


Infection and inflammation are factors in causing preterm birth. Controversy exists as to the connection of oral health and preterm birth, as intervention studies completed during the second trimester have had little impact in decreasing preterm birth incidence.19

While dental intervention during the second trimester has resulted with inconsistent results, oral health care prior to and throughout pregnancy is suggested to decrease the likelihood of preterm birth. Also, women receiving oral health care throughout the gestational period had better oral health outcomes.19-20


Many cancer treatment modalities can result in adverse oral health occurrences such as: mucositis, caries, xerostomia, and osteonecrosis. The cause of these occurrences can be multifactorial, but associations that have been proposed include: radiotherapy, toxicity of chemotherapy agents, multicycle chemotherapy, and molecular/cellular factors.21-23

Dental examinations and definitive treatment are vital prior to the start of cancer therapy for all patients.21-23

Renal disease

Most associations between poor oral health and renal disease (characterized by uremia) relate to immune dysfunction, including deficiencies in lymphocytes and monocytes. Additionally, altered cellular immunity, along with malnutrition, contributes to an immunodeficient state in uremia.24-25

Preserving low risk and functional oral health in chronic renal disease patients serves a complementary function that can surpass the advantages established with nonchronic disease patients.25

Respiratory disease

Some research suggests that oral bacteria may reduce the bond of respiratory pathogens to epithelial cell connections. Moreover, oral bacterial products or cytokines in pharyngeal spaces can result in an increase of inflammatory cells.26-28

Some studies suggest a direct relationship between poor oral conditions, high plaque indices, periodontal disease, and respiratory diseases, including pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and asthma.26-28

*There is not universal agreement among studies as to the cause-and-effect relationship between oral and systemic health links. This table should be viewed as a snapshot of proposed and possible correlation areas with oral and systemic outcomes. More research and collaboration are needed prior to full implementation of integrated care or consensus.

The complete article can be found at the following link:



Should You Have Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Colgate Oral Care Center - Reviewed by the faculty of Columbia University College of Dental Medicine 

Jennifer Flach was a college junior when her wisdom teeth started causing problems.

"My other teeth started moving around," she remembers. "The wisdom teeth were pushing out and undoing some of the orthodontic work I had done in high school."

At the same time, her brother — who's two years younger and was also in college — had no symptoms. But the family dentist said his wisdom teeth should come out, too.

Jen and her brother had back-to-back surgeries. They recovered together at home during spring break. "It was quite a week at my parents' house," she says.

Patrick Grother was 26 when his dentist said his wisdom teeth might need to be removed. His bottom left wisdom tooth had come partway into his mouth. But a flap of gum still covered it. "The dentist said food would get trapped there and it could get infected," he says.

Patrick eventually had the wisdom teeth on the left side of his mouth taken out.

A few people are born without wisdom teeth. Others have enough room in their mouths for the teeth. But many of us, like Jen and her brother, get our wisdom teeth taken out as young adults. And like Patrick, many of us are first alerted to the problem when our wisdom teeth can't come in all the way.

If that happens, part of the tooth may be covered by a flap of gum. Bits of food and bacteria can get trapped under the flap. This can cause swelling and a low-grade infection called pericoronitis. This usually happens with lower wisdom teeth. Pericoronitis, and the pain it causes, are the most common reasons people need wisdom teeth taken out.

There are other reasons to have your wisdom teeth removed.

In many people, the wisdom teeth are blocked from coming in, usually by bone or other teeth. Sometimes the teeth are tilted under the gum. Dentists call these "impacted" teeth.

They may cause pain, but not always. You may feel nothing at all for years. You may not even be aware that you have wisdom teeth until your dentist sees them on an X-ray.

Regular dental visits are important during your teens and early 20s. If you visit your dentist regularly, he or she can use X-rays to follow the progress of your wisdom teeth. Any problems will be seen early.

Even if your wisdom teeth aren't causing any pain or other problems, they may cause problems at some point. The most common problems are decay, infection and crowding or damage to other teeth. Teeth next to the wisdom teeth are more prone to developing gum problems.

But more serious complications can occur. Some people develop fluid-filled growths called cysts. These can cause permanent damage to bone, teeth and nerves. In rare cases, other tumors may develop as well.

Not all wisdom teeth need to be removed. But if there's a chance your wisdom teeth will cause problems, it's easier to take them out when you're young. That's because the roots of the teeth are not fully developed yet, and the bone around the teeth is less dense. Younger people also heal faster than older ones. As you age, it will take longer to recover from the surgery.




By Regenerative Solutions - www.fullertonperio.com

Following a recent article from the Associated Press, there have been reports in the media that there is little evidence that flossing is required for good dental health.  We would like to give you our perspective on bacterial plaque removal and periodontal health. 

You are not healthy unless you are periodontally healthy

Ø  We know that bacterial plaque causes periodontal bone and tissue loss that can be disfiguring, cause loss of function, and affect your overall health.  As stated by the researcher from the Associated Press article, removal of bacterial plaque on a regular basis is essential.  Flossing is only one method of removing bacteria from between your teeth but certainly not the only method.   

CDC reports nearly half of adults over the age of 30 have periodontal (gum) disease

Ø  We know that according to the Centers for Disease Control’s most recent data, nearly 50% of adults over the age of 30 suffer from ongoing periodontitis and this disease is still the major cause of tooth loss in the US.  For patients over the age of 60 the incidence of periodontitis climbs to nearly 70%.

Flossing manages the risk of developing periodontal disease and controls progression of the disease following treatment

Ø  We know that in some patients there is a genetic susceptibility to this chronic disease while others may be resistant.  This is not unlike other chronic diseases of aging such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes.  For example while we understand that a high fat diet and lack of exercise are primary risk factors, there are some patients that are genetically resistant to heart disease.  We all know patients who, despite smoking, live a long, cancer-free life.  There are obese patients who despite having the primary risk factors do not develop diabetes.  Periodontal diseases are similar in that there is a segment of the population that are resistant to developing periodontitis despite having a high risk factors present such as unremoved bacterial plaque.  Risk factors are an indication that you are likely to develop disease- not that you will have the disease.  You see, just like eating right, exercise and other healthy lifestyle behaviors, flossing manages your risk for developing and, after treatment, controlling your periodontitis.

A comprehensive periodontal evaluation is recommended for adults over 30 years of age

Ø  The American Academy of Periodontology recommends that all dentists conduct a comprehensive periodontal evaluation at least on a yearly basis for all adults over 30.  During this evaluation, the dentist or hygienist will measure and record the depth of the spaces between the gum and tooth as well as the amount of plaque bacteria present.  Routine tooth brushing and cleaning between teeth (with dental floss or other oral hygiene aids that clean between teeth) removes the bacteria that not only cause an increase in these measurements but loss of bone that supports the teeth as well.  


Braces for Grown-Ups: Are They Right for You?

Orthodontists have options to make adult braces less obvious.

By Lisa Esposito - US News & World Report - July 27,2016

Wearing braces is a rite of passage for many kids. But increasingly, adults are also getting braces to straighten their teeth, fix their bites and improve their smiles. Orthodontic options that make braces inconspicuous are a big part of this rising popularity. If you're considering getting braces, here's what you should know.


First, you're not alone. A 2014 survey from the American Association of Orthodontists found that adults made up a record high of nearly 1.5 million orthodontics patients in the U.S. and Canada.

About three-fourths of adult patients at Storie and Sturgill Orthodontics, based in Johnson City, Tennessee, are there for cosmetic reasons, says orthodontist Dr. Jeremiah Sturgill. "Several years ago it was very, very rare," he says. "But now the technology we have, and the clear brackets that have also come a long way, are helping adults feel more comfortable about getting braces as well."

Even for patients who get braces to look better, it's often a matter of "form follows function," says Sturgill, an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. "A beautiful smile is not only great aesthetics, but it's also easier to clean your teeth if they're well-aligned. You don't have those nooks and crannies."

Sometimes, functional reasons send adults to the orthodontist, Sturgill says. Teeth may be missing, or patients might need space opened or bone built for an implant. In some complex cases, he says, braces are a means to build a foundation for prosthetic work.

Stephanie Kern, 47, of Wise County, Virginia, is an attorney who represents children. Her doctor advised her to see an orthodontist for problems with her back teeth, which were crooked, painful and affecting her jaw.

"Sometimes I would even talk funny because it would be so sore underneath my tongue, and I would bite myself in my sleep," Kern says. A tendency to grind her teeth led to two cracked molars that had to be removed, she says, leaving gaps in her mouth when she smiled.

Kern, now among Sturgill's patients, has been wearing metal braces since January. "Wax is my best friend now," says Kern, who feels discomfort from braces rubbing against her mouth. However, she jokes, her daughter, who also wears braces, calls her a "wimp" for using wax.

In public, her braces draw little attention. "I noticed a couple babies staring because they like things that sparkle." she says. Most people don't mention her braces unless they've had them, too.

Kern sees braces for adults in a positive light. "Often, time passes and things deteriorate as opposed to improve," she says. "So it's nice to know you've got something to look forward to as an improvement over time."

Brace Options

Braces apply gentle but steady pressure to ease crowding and move teeth. Braces have three main components: brackets placed on each tooth; a band or bonding to affix the bracket to the tooth; and an arch wire which goes from one bracket to the next. Common options for braces include the following:

Metal braces. Stainless steel braces remain the best choice for some more-complex cases, says Dr. Greg Jorgensen, an orthodontist in private practice in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. "The metal braces are still a little more precise because they can be smaller," he explains. "They can fit into smaller areas where teeth are more crooked."

Clear or tooth-colored braces. These are also known as ceramic braces. "While they're still visible, they're less intimidating," Jorgensen says. "They don't grab your attention." One drawback of ceramic braces is that they can stain.

Invisalign or clear aligners. These appliances, which patients can remove to eat, brush and floss, align the teeth without wires or brackets. Patients wear them 20 to 22 hours a day, Sturgill says. While many people are attracted because they're so unnoticeable, clear aligners can be high-maintenance for patients who prefer to snack and drink coffee throughout the day.

Lingual braces. These are placed on the inner, tongue-side of the teeth. Lingual braces are an option for patients who shy away from wearing visible metal braces but whose cases are complex enough to need more than Invisalign, Jorgensen says.

Gold braces. Still made of steel but coated with shiny gold, these are an option for people ready to full-out embrace their braces. Gold braces are far more popular with teens than adults, Sturgill says. 

Not Your Childhood Braces

Treatment with braces can be more challenging for adults. "Kids have really thick, healthy gums," Sturgill says. With age, patients are more likely to have problems like receding gums or bone loss. Orthodontists work closely with patients' general dentists before they start with braces, he says, to make sure gums are healthy and periodontal disease is under control.

If you had braces as a kid, you surely remember the mold-making process. It's different now. Digital X-ray technology is much more advanced, Jorgensen says, cutting down on radiation and eliminating the need for dental impressions made with "goop" in your mouth.

In general, time spent wearing braces is shorter than in years past. The average time for all cases in his practice is 17 months, Jorgensen says. Simpler cases, like fixing small spaces in the upper teeth, may take as little as six months. Complexity drives the length of treatment. "We want to fix everything," he says. "If a patient has an impacted tooth in the lower jaw, it might be a three-year case."

After braces come off, teeth can continue to move and crowd even several years later, Sturgill says. "Because of that, we now recommend retainers for life," he says. Retainers are worn at night. That could be every night for the first two years, he says, then eventually one or two nights a week.

Who Should Treat You?

For consumers who are considering braces, the "No. 1" question to ask their provider is, "'Are you an orthodontic specialist? Have you had specialty training in diagnosing and treating my case as an adult?'" Jorgensen says. "Because right now, the line between a specialist and a dentist who does braces has been blurred by advertising."

Orthodontists have up to 36 months of extra training, Jorgensen notes, and more experience treating misalignments and recognizing complex cases.

Covering Costs

On average, braces fall in the $5,000 to $6,500 price range, Sturgill says. If your budget is tight, talk to the office treatment coordinator about working out an in-house payment plan. Practices also may offer parent-child discounts, he says.

Also, check your insurance. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that orthodontic treatment is partially covered.



Buyer beware: Dentists can be trained in orthodontics,

but they’re not orthodontists

By Crystal Goomansingh and Nick Logan - Global News

Global News story about dentists moonlighting as orthodontists had many viewers wondering what they should be asking when they’re looking to get braces.

Global’s Crystal Goomansingh spoke with 18-year-old Alec Stephen, who got braces from her dentist – who said he could do the job of an orthodontist for a lower price.

After 18 months, she wound up with a more pronounced overbite and her teeth were further apart.

Dentists get some orthodontics training, but can upgrade their skills in as little as a weekend. Trained orthodontists spend two to three years longer in university than dentists to become specialized and accredited.

Stephen’s story looks like it will end on a positive note – after her story was covered by Global News, an orthodontist in Fredericton offered to replace her braces for free.

Stephen is not the only one to encounter this problem. Goomansingh spoke with Dr. Ron Wolk – a specialist in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics.

He had a patient come in to his Calgary practice just this week for a consultation, after getting braces from a dentist and having concerns about the progress of his treatment.

Wolk offered a few words of warning for consumers.

First, patients should be asking if they’re getting work done by a certified specialist and what affiliations they have, such as with the Canadian Association of Orthodontists or American Association of Orthodontists.

“Those two specialty groups are recognized… as only having members that are certified specialists. They’re formally trained, with university backgrounds – usually for an extra two to three years over and beyond that of a dentist,” he explained.

The problem is, there are some associations with similar sounding names. That’s where patients can get into trouble – very costly trouble.

“There’s one in particular, called the International Association of Orthodontics. They’re not really orthodontists. In other words, they’re not defined by their training, but defined by what they can do,” Wolk said.

Dentists are able to practice orthodontics. But, unless they’ve gone to university to specialize, they’re not accredited – they just paid fees to take courses and become members of these sorts of societies.

“It’s very deceiving to the public,” Wolk said. “They see that [membership] as validity,” he said.

He suggests calling the associations to find out what it means to be a member.

“If a consumer is really interested in getting to the bottom of making their decision, I think that’s an excellent approach,” he said.

*Crystal Goomansingh made numerous attempts to contact the dentist that Stephen got her braces from, but none of the calls were returned.



April is National Facial Protection Month

It’s National Facial Protection Month, so Curtis Orthodontics is spreading the word to our patients to remind everyone to protect those faces this spring. As many children and adults gear up to start a new sports season, it’s important to keep faces and heads protected from injuries.

Did you know spring is one of the busiest times in emergency rooms for mouth and facial injuries? Several of these injuries happen in the spring because they are sports-related accidents that can be easily prevented with the use of sports safety equipment. By utilizing equipment like helmets and mouth guards, children and adults can avoid serious facial injuries.

Just by wearing a mouth guard or helmet, patients can reduce the risk of having a concussion, knocking out teeth, or breaking jaw bones. Most coaches recommend a mouth guard or helmet. Unfortunately, many athletes neglect these two very important pieces of equipment because they don’t comprehend the importance of wearing them.

Even though personal safety is the most important concern, parents and patients are also aware of the high cost of treating an injury to the face or head. These emergency treatments for injuries can cost thousands of dollars, and some injuries, like concussions, have lifelong implications. As so many of these injuries can be easily prevented, we can’t stress enough the importance of simply wearing a mouth guard or helmet during organized sports and activities. And wearing a mouth guard and helmet is a good rule of thumb to abide by all year long, not just in the spring time. If you have any questions regarding facial protection, please contact Curtis Orthodontics at 714-990-5414.



Risks Involved with “Do It Yourself” Teeth Straightening

American Association of Orthodontics

St. Louis, April 17, 2016 – “Do it yourself” orthodontic treatment is a dangerous new trend
on social media and consumers may be putting their teeth, gums and jaws in harm’s way
by trying to self-treat. In January of 2015, the American Association of Orthodontists
(AAO) responded to the dozens of videos, websites, and social media posts suggesting
that consumers try straightening their teeth by themselves with a widespread consumer
alert. Today, the online conversation has changed, as the message against doing selftreatment
is loud and clear. But doctors warn that the problem persists.

The ‘quick fix’ offerings include everything from rubber bands and dental floss promoted to
close a gap between teeth, to faux-braces made out of paper clips, and retainers made
from modeling clay, to name a few. Many of these have the potential to cause extensive
damage to teeth, bone and soft tissue that could require expensive and extensive restoration
by a multi-disciplinary team of dental specialists.

Yet despite warnings, there continue to be instances of individuals trying new ways to “do
it yourself.” Amos Dudley, a digital design student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology
was recently able to fabricate clear aligners using 3D printing technology. But Dudley
is quick to point out in an interview in the blog OrthoPundit, “I don’t see it being a good idea
unless a human verifies the results somewhere along the chain, and is involved in checking
the progress of the procedure, and making course corrections.”

“I’d advise against making your own aligners,” Dudley said on Gizmodo.com. “For something
as important as important as the health of the teeth,” he told OrthoPundit, “…there’s
still a lot of value in the analytical eye of a professional.” Dudley also warns visitors to his
blog to not try his method, which was designed as an experiment in the disruptive possibilities
of 3D printing technology. He clearly notes: “Do not attempt anything written here….”

The story of Dudley’s creativity went viral, but media outlets covering the story also concurred
that self-treatment is not a great idea. “A focus only on alignment and not on function
or health often results in an unstable result with long-term dental health compromises,"
said orthodontist Brent Larson, DDS, MS in the blog “How Stuff Works.” This could result
in loss of the supporting tooth root, gum recession, or, in the worst case, loss of teeth." A
Washington Post article concludes, “DIY fixes may seem like an inexpensive alternative,
but unfortunately the adage holds up: you get what you pay for.”

Dr. Larson concurs. “DIY solutions are always tempting because of the possibility of saving
money. But this isn’t like home remodeling where if you get into trouble you can always
call in a professional later,” he said. “With DIY orthodontics, by the time a problem is recognized,
damage has likely been done that is not reversible, even with professional help.
The best solution to obtain a healthy, beautiful smile is to visit an orthodontist – many will
do an initial consultation at no cost – and talk about professional treatment options. Most
orthodontists will have flexible options to make treatment affordable.”

One of the most serious concerns is that consumers are being told that by simply putting a
special rubber band around teeth that gap, the space will close. Because of the known
risks, orthodontists consider the unsupervised movement of teeth using just rubber bands
to be below the standard of care, and it can result in permanent tooth loss. A photo in the
September 2014 issue of The American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
shows damage caused by a submerged elastic. The British Orthodontic Society has
also recently issued an official warning against DIY orthodontics.

“We realize that cost is a concern for many families and that has likely fueled interest in
‘DIY’ orthodontics,” said Morris N. Poole, DDS, president of the American Association of
Orthodontists. “To help families who truly cannot afford treatment, we have created a national
organization called Donated Orthodontic Services (DOS) that helps qualified lowincome
children receive orthodontic care at no cost. Orthodontists across the country routinely
donate their time to treat children in need.”

Orthodontists are uniquely qualified specialists who diagnose, prevent and treat dental and
facial irregularities to correctly align teeth and jaws. After graduating from dental school
and then completing the required two-to-three years of specialized education in an accredited
orthodontic residency program, orthodontists are eligible for membership in the American
Association of Orthodontists (AAO). For more information or to find AAO member orthodontists
in your area, please visit mylifemysmile.org. 



Soft Drinks and Orthodontic Treatment

A Recipe for Disaster

American Association of Orthodontists

St. Louis — January 28, 2016 –– Many people are not aware that soft drinks – even diet soft drinks, sports and energy drinks, and fruit drinks – contain acids, which can be especially troublesome for people in orthodontic treatment. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) strongly advises patients in orthodontic treatment to avoid drinks with low pH (acidic) levels. A new AAO educational flier, Soft Drinks + Orthodontic Treatment = A Recipe for Disaster.pdf, lists pH levels of more than 30 soft drinks, including sports and energy drinks, fruit juices, and regular and diet soda pop.
“It’s tempting to reach for soft drinks. People around us drink them regularly, they are easily purchased in vending machines and at convenience stores, and many are heavily advertised,” says Morris N. Poole, DDS, president of the AAO. “Sugar is known to be bad for the teeth, but sugar-free soft drinks present dangers, as well.
“Consumption of soft drinks during orthodontic treatment puts teeth at risk of decay due to the acid attack on enamel,” says Dr. Poole. He hopes a closer look at the science of decay might make that next soft drink a little less appealing. “The acid in soft drinks pulls calcium out of tooth enamel. Repeatedly bathing teeth with acidic soft drinks dissolves enamel, a process called ‘decalcification,’ and that’s a sure path to a cavity. If soft drinks contain sugar, the risk increases. Sugar interacts with plaque and forms yet another acid to further dissolve enamel. When enamel is gone, the loss is permanent.”
Dr. Poole notes that water is an excellent drink of choice, especially for orthodontic patients. The pH of water is 7.0, and is considered neutral on the pH scale, which ranges from 0 to 14. Liquids below 7.0 are on the acidic side of the pH scale. Tooth enamel begins to dissolve at a pH level of 5.5. As listed in Soft Drinks + Orthodontic Treatment = A Recipe for Disaster.pdf, the majority of the soft drinks in AAO-commissioned testing fell below the threshold of 5.5 pH.
The lower the pH level, the more acidic the beverage.


Plaque is a sticky, colorless film made up of bacteria, food debris and saliva. It forms
constantly on teeth. Plaque uses sugar and starches as food, and expels acid as a by-product.
Coupled with the acid that is present in many soft drinks, consuming liquids that contain sugar
increases the risk to tooth enamel. Frequent brushing throughout the day and daily flossing
removes most plaque. Hard-to-reach plaque requires professional attention, so orthodontic
patients are advised to see their family dentist for professional cleanings at least every six
months during treatment, or more often if recommended.

Damage You Can See

“I like to tell patients that a single sip of a soft drink is the catalyst for an attack on tooth
enamel, and the attack is renewed with each new sip,” says Dr. Poole. Decalcification can leave
white spots or lines on teeth. The portion of a tooth covered by a bracket is protected, but
decalcification around the perimeter of the bracket can leave the tooth with a permanent outline
of where the bracket had been. “This is a huge disappointment to patients and their
orthodontists,” says Dr. Poole, and, he notes, is one of the reasons that orthodontists insist that
patients brush and floss as recommended. “Consider, too, that the pH level of soft drinks varies.
It just makes sense that acidic drinks can’t be good for your teeth, let alone your overall health.”


Overall, orthodontic patients should:
• Never consume soft drinks while wearing clear aligners or clear retainers.
• Drink fluoridated water and use a fluoride toothpaste.
• Always follow their orthodontist’s instructions on oral hygiene (brushing, flossing and
regular professional cleanings). A little extra diligence goes a long way toward reaching
the goal of orthodontic treatment: a healthy, beautiful smile.

If orthodontic patients consume soft drinks, there are important measures to follow to minimize damage to tooth enamel:
• Drink soft drinks through a straw.
• Have soft drinks with a meal.
• Drink the soft drink quickly; avoid sipping over a long period of time.
• Brush right away after consuming soft drinks, including sports and energy drinks, fruit juices, and regular and diet soda pop. If you can’t brush right away, at least rinse with water.

“Realistically, we recognize that patients may indulge in soft drinks from time to time,” says Dr. Poole. “While we don’t begrudge anyone the occasional sweet treat, it is imperative that for good oral health, the indulgence is immediately followed by thorough brushing and flossing. We want the very best outcomes for our patients.”

pH Levels of a Variety of Soft Drinks

The lower the number, the more acidic the liquid is. Tooth enamel begins to dissolve at a pH level of 5.5. 

Hydrochloric acid** 0.0
Battery acid*** 1.0
Stomach acid** 1.5
Coca-Cola (regular) 2.60
Pepsi (regular) 2.62
Coca-Cola (diet) 2.62
Lemonade (Minute Maid) 2.63
Powerade (Mountain Berry Blast) 2.67
Powerade (Fruit Punch) 2.67
Powerade Zero (Strawberry) 2.72
Hawaiian Punch (Fruit Juicy Red) 2.82
Powerade Zero (Grape) 2.84
5-Hour Energy (Pomegranate) 2.91
Pepsi (diet) 2.97
Dr. Pepper (regular) 2.98
Gatorade (Orange) 2.99
Gatorade (Fruit Punch) 3.03
Propel (Lemon) 3.08
Propel (Black Cherry) 3.10
Sunkist (regular) 3.13
Capri Sun (Red Berry) 3.19
Dr. Pepper (diet) 3.22
Sprite (regular) 3.26
Mountain Dew (regular) 3.34
7-Up (regular) 3.35
Sprite Zero 3.40
Mountain Dew (diet) 3.42
Red Bull Energy Drink (main flavor) 3.50
Sunkist (diet) 3.54
Monster Energy (regular) 3.59
7-Up (diet) 3.64
Apple Juice (Mott’s) 3.75
Orange Juice (Tropicana - no pulp) 3.93
Tomato Juice (Campbell’s) 4.12
Tea (Gold Peak - unsweetened) 4.25
A&W Root Beer (regular) 4.43
A&W Root Beer (diet) 4.65
Coffee (black, freshly brewed) 6.12
Milk (Prairie Farms 2%) 6.70
Pure water** (neutral) 7.00

See the following documents for more information:




Why DIY braces are actually a terrible, terrible idea 

by Tara C. Smith - Washington Post, March 2016



I’m 40 years old, and I’m in braces. Like design student Amos Dudley, I disliked my teeth and wanted to get them fixed. Unlike Dudley, whose Internet-famous braces cost him $60 out of pocket to fabricate and took just 16 weeks from start to finish, I will have paid about 100 times as much to a credentialed orthodontist, and spent a year and a half in treatment.

But even though those numbers are tempting, experts say the DIY braces movement is a terrible idea.

I understand the yearning for a cheap fix to bad teeth, trust me. I’ve put two kids of my own through braces, and am currently using clear braces to fix my own snaggletooth. This involved interviews and X-rays at four orthodontists over the past decade to get estimates and treatment recommendations, which varied from practice to practice. Was I a candidate for Invisalign — the clear, “can’t tell you’re wearing them” braces — or would I have to do traditional braces? (Responses were mixed). How long would I have to be in them? (Eighteen to 30 months). How much would they cost? ($4,000 to $6,500).

No one will say that orthodontic work is quick, easy or inexpensive, and while expertise in this area requires knowledge of the biology of your teeth and the physics of moving them, creating the "perfect" smile has the nuance of an art form.

And that perfect smile can mean a lot. I grew up in a lower-middle class family, and though we had dental insurance and saw our dentist religiously every six months for cleanings, braces were off the table. I remember my granny soaking her dentures at night, her teeth long gone. Several relatives had full sets of false teeth in their 30s, their original teeth pulled due to rot. Healthy, straight teeth don’t come easily to those growing up without economic privilege. It’s no surprise that some recent essays on poverty revolve around the appearance of teeth and how that appearance can perpetuate the cycle of economic disadvantage. And given the cost involved with orthodontic treatment, the rising popularity of DIY printing, and the growing distrust of expertise in all areas of science, it’s similarly unsurprising that Dudley’s methods and results have received so much attention.

But despite Buzzfeed’s initial headline claiming that the DIY braces were “safe,” orthodontists say otherwise. Stephen Belli, a board-certified orthodontist who has treated over 15,000 patients, cautions others about trying to replicate Dudley’s results. “I’d like to see an X-ray, because he’s probably caused some irreparable harm.” What kind of harm could this include? From the outside, his teeth look pretty good — good enough to get his success story shared across the Web.

Belli notes, “He moved these teeth in only 16 weeks. You can cause a lot of problems with that. If you move a tooth too fast, you can actually cause damage to the bone and gums. And if you don’t put the tooth in the right position, you could throw off your bite,” leading to additional damage and wear on the teeth.

Belli also says that quick, unsupervised movements of teeth like Dudley has done set the patient up for a high potential of relapse, where the tooth will move back into its previous position faster than it took to move it originally. With Dudley, this has already happened once, as he acknowledged to Buzzfeed that “he originally had braces in junior high, but neglected the upkeep,” leading to dissatisfaction with his teeth that kept him from smiling. Dudley is planning to follow up with nighttime retainers this time — also DIY'ed. But most who carry out their own orthodontic work will not have access to the expensive fabrication equipment available via Dudley's university, which he used to make cheap, custom-fit retainers to keep his newly straightened teeth in place.

While Dudley justified the risk he was taking as part of “stick[ing] it to the dental appliance industry,” he does note he denied his own “instict [sic] for self-preservation” and acknowledged that DIY orthodontics could go “horribly wrong.” (He also has a disclaimer on his blog, warning readers not to attempt “anything written here” and assuming no liability for actions taken by readers).

But Dudley is far from the only DIY orthodontist on the Web. The DIY fad, largely driven by Internet videos, has become so widespread that theAmerican Association of Orthodontists (AAO) addressed the issue last year in a press release and series of videos highlighting the potential for serious damage when patients try to move their teeth on their own.

In one case study, a patient attempted to use rubber bands to remove a gap between their front teeth. The band instead migrated into the gums, pulling the teeth together and destroying the roots, leading to tooth loss. This graphic image shows the disastrous results.

Yet admiration for the DYI-ers persists. Commenters on Dudley’s blog suggested that his technique would be great for those lacking funds for braces — but ignored the possible harm that could come from braces used without orthodontic expertise and supervision. While it sounds great to be Robin Hood, taking patients away from The Man and bringing cheap, 3D-printed braces to the poor, the simple fact is that much of the cost of braces is for the expertise of the orthodontist — for good reason.

After all, like orthodontics, much of the cost of surgery is for the expertise of the surgeon, not the equipment being used. While DIY braces may not seem as risky as DIY surgery, bad outcomes can still range from lingering problems with a patient’s bite to the complete loss of teeth, costing far more than the price of braces to fix.

Instead of hitting up YouTube tutorials or sketchy mail-order services, a better place to start for affordable orthodontics would be the donated services offered by professional orthodontists, or working with your designated provider to set up a payment plan. DIY fixes may seem like an inexpensive alternative, but unfortunately the adage holds up: you get what you pay for.


A college kid spends $60 to straighten his own teeth.

What could possibly go wrong?

by Matt McFarland - Washington Post March 2016


 A college student has received a wealth of interest in his dental work after publishing an account of straightening his own teeth for $60.

Amos Dudley, who studies digital design at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, had no dentistry experience when he decided to create plastic aligners to improve his smile. After publishing before-and-after pictures of his teeth this month, Dudley has received hundreds of requests from strangers, asking him to straighten their teeth. 

Dudley’s project has raised the question of whether the cost of professional dental care is unnecessarily high. Although some orthodontists say Dudley’s work may eventually lead to lower costs, they warn that the amateur’s methods were risky and could backfire, ultimately leading to a need for more expensive professional help.

“It’s very dangerous,” said Hera Kim-Berman, director of graduate orthodontics at the University of Michigan. “He’s done a tremendous disservice to many people who look at this and think they can possibly do it.”

Kim-Berman and other orthodontists warn of the dangers of leaving a certified health-care professional out of the process.

 Here's what Dudley's teeth looked like once he was finished. (Amos Dudley) Here’s what Dudley’s teeth looked like once he was finished. (Amos Dudley)
Among Kim-Berman’s many concerns was that the plastic aligners Dudley made for his teeth did not include his back molars, which Kim-Berman said could potentially create significant problems such as a disrupted bite.

“He could’ve done his own Lasik surgery,” said Brent E. Larson, a director of orthodontics at the University of Minnesota’s dental school. “But he probably wouldn’t have embarked on that road because that’s a more obvious risk to the health of your eye. But in fact, this is the same sort of risk.”

Larsen stressed the importance of creating not just a beautiful smile, but a healthy smile. Orthodontists take into consideration the health of gum tissue and the location of bones that support teeth. Larsen said Dudley overlooked these considerations.

The $60 price tag Dudley paid for the work also doesn’t tell the complete story of the costs. Given his university studies, Dudley had access to a 3D printer and laser scanner on campus, which cost in excess of $30,000 to purchase. And his technical expertise far exceeds that of the average person.

If he’d focused solely on the project, Dudley said, he could have completed it in a week or two. He began researching the project last summer and checked out dental books from the library. 

Dudley then bought materials online to make a mold of his teeth. He used a laser scanner to upload the mold into a computer program, where he could digitally shift his teeth to a desired location. To ease his teeth into the transition, Dudley printed 12 different retainers, which gradually shifted his teeth to their final destination. He would shift from one retainer to the next after he could feel the current retainer no longer putting pressure on his teeth. After 16 weeks of wearing the retainers on his top teeth, Dudley had the smile he wanted. (He did not seek to straighten his bottom teeth.)

Although not advocating that the average person try such an approach, some orthodontists said Dudley’s case might lead to more affordable dental care down the road.

“It’s a promising thing that this is happening,” said Kjeld Aamodt, a dental professor at the University of California at San Francisco. “I think people are eager to have their teeth straightened and I think frustrated with the current orthodontic marketplace being not only inconvenient for them but too costly.”

 Aamodt doesn’t expect anything near $60 to be realistic. But he said he could foresee a system in which advances in technology lead to patients not having to visit orthodontists every month, and paying a lower cost because of changes in the infrastructure of health care.

 “There is a potential for maybe some cost savings, but not in the same way there is for consumer electronic goods that can be manufactured more efficiently, effectively using robots,” Larson said. The cost of dental work comes largely not from the equipment, but from the expertise of the orthodontist, who finishes their schooling with hundreds of thousands of dollars of loans.

Dudley acknowledges his work required only a small fraction of the knowledge that orthodontists have. And he isn’t accepting any requests to make plastic aligners for the people who contact him. Instead Dudley, who is set to graduate this spring, has interviewed with 3D printing companies that were intrigued by his project.

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