The American Association of Orthodontists predicts that by 2025, orthodontists will use a number of new tools to improve treatment outcomes and reduce costs. One significant advancement is likely to be tissue engineering which may allow scientists to grow teeth buds in the lab, allowing people who have lost their teeth to avoid painful procedures. On a more conservative timescale, innovations in artificial intelligence and computer science may help orthodontists better monitor patient progress and speed up workflow without compromising quality. Their predictions indicate that the field of orthodontics still has many positive changes ahead for patients, especially those who have been waiting for an improvement in how they function socially and professionally.
These changes include advancements in the machines themselves. For example, an early attempt at computer-assisted orthodontics called OrthoCAD failed thanks to a lack of funding and other factors. However, later models might be successful because of advances in technology such as:
• Computer hardware and software
• Scientific findings
• Materials science
• Design for manufacturability (DFM) and design for assembly (DFA)
• Additive manufacturing (e.g., 3-d printing)
• Mechatronics engineering
• Biomechanical engineering
• Biomaterials science
• Imaging technologies
• Motion capture data analysis software/hardware systems
• Algorithms and analytics for clinical decision making
All these are aimed at improving treatment outcomes while reducing treatment expenses over time.
By 2025, the American Association of Orthodontists says that orthodontists will likely have “new materials to change bite characteristics.” Currently, though, there are only a limited number of techniques that orthodontists can use. For example, they can install plastic or metal braces that cause pressure on teeth over time to correct alignment issues. Orthodontists may also perform jaw surgery which involves breaking and repositioning bones to achieve preferred facial structures. Additionally, they may perform reconstructive surgery to reconstruct the jaw, palate, or facial bones. As scientists experiment with ways to reposition teeth, orthodontists will likely have new tools, materials, and equipment to complete these procedures. For example, one experiment involves injecting water-based gels into the jaw to reposition teeth. Possible changes in the jaw, palate and facial bones may also affect a patient’s bite characteristics. The time required to correct these issues may vary; some patients may take two months, while others might take a year.
The third major trend involves tissue engineering, allowing people to grow new tissues and organs in a lab. Dr. Paul Vacanti of Massachusetts General Hospital has successfully grown bladders and bones using this technique. According to The American Association of Orthodontists, future research will likely focus on teeth and jaws in particular. They predict that genetic therapies could trigger cells known as multipotent stromal cells (MSCs) to become “tooth buds,” which will grow into adult teeth within about five years if the therapy works out. Within 10-15 years, it may be possible for scientists to engineer similar therapies into orthodontic appliances such as retainers or braces by making them compatible with “MSCs that could then develop into teeth in the mouth.” Scientists might also be able to use tissue engineering techniques to create jawbones with stem cells.
Another possibility is that scientists will be able to render invisible orthodontic treatments. They might do so by engineering tissues and organs with the help of nanotechnology, which involves manipulation of the materials on an atomic or molecular scale. For example, they might use nanoparticles made from calcium phosphate (a component of bone) to “trick stem cells into thinking these structures are actual bones,” which would allow them to create jawbones without surgery. Alternatively, tissue engineers may grow actual bones using stem cells in a lab, allowing people who need corrective jaw surgery to avoid painful procedures. For more information about getting braces, search “Invisalign dentist near me” on Google for all dental services.
The American Association of Orthodontists predicts that patients will have more options for tooth straightening than ever before in the next decade. New technologies, such as machine-based orthodontics and tissue engineering, promise to expand people’s treatment choices while reducing surgeries and other invasive procedures. However, these advances aren’t expected until 2025, so most people still need to go through traditional orthodontic treatments like braces or retainers today.
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