The Orthodontics Professors
the latest in contemporary & evidence-based orthodontics
BY TATE H. JACKSON AND CLARKE STEVENS
A study just published in the Angle Orthodontist has analyzed 419,363 tweets, shared publicly regarding the patient experience with either traditional fixed appliances or Invisalign®. The data were collected over a period of five months from April to September in 2015 and analyzed by sentiment analysis using Naïve Bayes classifiers.
Tweets were identified by the use of the keywords “braces” or “Invisalign” and filtered using software so that content irrelevant to orthodontics (braces as a term for suspenders in fashion, for example) was excluded. All tweets relevant to orthodontics with either keyword were then classified in sentiment as positive, negative, neutral, or as an advertisement.
Overall, more tweets about orthodontic treatment were positive (62%) than negative (38%). There was no statistically significant difference in the proportion of positive tweets when comparing traditional braces to Invisalign®. More individuals tweeted about braces than Invisalign®, and 1/3 of all the tweets involving Invisalign® were classified as advertisements. Generally, positive tweets most often focused on gratitude while negative tweets most often focused on pain.
WHAT THE PROFESSORS THINK
The topic and methodology of this study are certainly relevant to those practicing in the era of social media. The use of a simplified sentiment analysis was evidence-based, and the authors used adequate search terms and a human-defined pool of categorized terms of adequate size to train the software for the larger analysis that took place.
The authors did not analyze if tweets originated from individuals associated with an orthodontics practice. Although that may be impossible to do effectively, it is important to interpret the data with that fact in mind.
Although this study only presents data from one form of social media, it does have some interesting ramifications for practicing orthodontists.
First, the fact that more than 400,000 tweets published over a five month period involved orthodontic treatment reinforces the power of social media in the public discourse relative to orthodontics.
Second, the majority of tweets were positive in nature, a point that might reassure orthodontists that the profession is viewed favorably. The magnitude of positive sentiment reported (62%) can serve as a sort of evidence-based benchmark for individual practices. If an analysis of a practices’ social media references shows a lower proportion of positive comments, it might be an objective reason for concern on the part of the practice.
Third, it is also interesting to note that despite the fact that there were more tweets related to traditional braces overall, there was a much higher proportion of advertising related to Invisalign®.
33% of all tweets related to Invisalign® were advertisements, compared to only 7% for braces. Again, for clinicians in practice who want some sort of evidence-based benchmark related to the density of advertising for either traditional braces or Invisalign® using social media, these data give some insight.
Article Reviewed: Noll et. al. Twitter analysis of the orthodontic patient experience with braces vs. Invisalign. The Angle Orthodontist. Online Early, Jan 2017.
BY TATE H. JACKSON AND WILLIAM V. GIERIE
A study in the Angle Orthodontist has surveyed 1,000 General Dentists and 1,000 Orthodontists – drawn from a list of Invisalign® providers on the company’s website. Those surveyed were asked to rate their confidence using Invisalign® to treat six different cases for which intra-oral photographs were provided: a Deep Bite case, a Posterior Crossbite case, a Anterior Open Bite case, Mild Crowding case, a Severe Crowding case, and a Class II case. Additionally, both Orthodontists and General Dentists were asked about their various treatment planning (e.g. time spent with ClinChecks) and mechanics (e.g. use of Class II elastics or auxiliaries) tendencies with Invisalign®. Finally, demographic and training information, as well as experience in treating cases with Invisalign® was reported.
Overall, both Orthodontists and General Dentists were relatively confident in treating the four cases presented with Invisalign®. Interestingly, General Dentists were significantly more confident when it came to more complex cases: deep bite, severe crowding, and Class II. Orthodontists reported higher confidence in treating mild crowding than General Dentists.
Orthodontists were significantly more likely to spend more time reviewing ClinCheck set-ups and were more likely to use refinements and elastics as a part of treatment. Not surprisingly, Orthodontists reported more training and experience using Invisalign® and were more likely than General Dentists to tell patients that their malocclusion was too complex for Invisalign®.
WHAT THE PROFESSORS THINK
This article provides some data for practicing Orthodontists that might be of great use in discussing with patients why orthodontic care is specialized treatment – not just the appliance used to straighten teeth.
The use of a specific case records in conjunction with confidence ratings, and not just a survey self-report, gives these data some greater credibility. The use of intra-oral photographs alone had good rationale, since it provided a realistic version of the information that a General Dentist might consider when planning an Invisalign® case. The structure of the survey, asking respondents to give demographic and training information after completing the confidence ratings is helpful since it aids in avoiding bias when reporting confidence.
The fact that the response rate to the survey is not clearly reported is an unfortunate shortcoming of the study – one that, if clarified, would significantly improve the reliability of the results.
There are two pieces of information from this study that are most interesting and clinically relevant:
Article Reviewed: Best et al. Treatment management between orthodontist and general practitioners performing clear aligner therapy. Angle Orthodontist. Online Early Nov 2016.
BY TATE H. JACKSON
An Italian group has published a systematic review and meta-analysis that holds some practical clinical information for orthodontists or dentists using mandibular repositioning appliances to treat obstructive sleep apnea.
The authors followed PRISMA guidelines and reviewed publications from 1990 – 2015. Only randomized controlled trials were included in the analysis of the association between reduction in apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) and therapy with a mandibular repositioning device in adults. Importantly, all changes in sleep-disordered breathing were measured by polysomnography (PSG) – both at baseline and after treatment. 13 studies were included in the analysis.
Successful reduction in AHI (reduction of sleep apnea) was found in studies where the mandible was advanced as little as 25% of the maximum protrusion possible. Advancement of 50% showed equivalent results to advancements of a greater magnitude.
Although the treatment modality was effective in significantly reducing AHI, no clear association between advancing the mandible further and a greater reduction in AHI could be made.
Since variability in individual response was reported, the authors suggested a conservative and personalized approach to treatment by initially posturing the mandible forward only “the minimum effective” distance.
WHAT THE PROFESSOR THINKS
Although the authors conclude that the 13 RCT’s included in this meta-analysis represent a relatively small body of evidence of moderate quality, the data presented have some strengths.
Only randomized controlled trials where the outcome of interest was clearly defined were included. The “gold standard” of polysomnography was used to assess changes in sleep apnea in each study. Further, only studies that accounted for changes in BMI and considered patients over 18 were included.
From an orthodontic perspective, posturing the mandible forward in a non-growing adult with a fixed or removable appliance could certainly have ramifications, both for the patient’s occlusion / alignment and for the patient's comfort / ability to tolerate the appliance. If protruding the mandible 50% of the maximum possible works, then tooth-movement side effects, as well as pain and discomfort, might be limited.
Not posturing the mandible forward fully at baseline might also allow for future increases over time as needed.
This article provides two key pieces of information for the clinician treating sleep apnea in adults with appliances that protrude the mandible:
As the enthusiasm for treating sleep apnea with mandible-posturing oral devices continues, these data may become more and more relevant for orthodontists – either as we provide treatment for sleep apnea, or as we address the potential changes in occlusion and alignment caused by such treatment.
Article Reviewed: Bartolucci, et. al. The effectiveness of different mandibular advancement amounts
in OSA patients: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Sleep Breath. Jan 2016
BY TATE H. JACKSON
A group from Belgium has published results of a Randomized Controlled Trial to evaluate the effect of flapless corticotomies on tooth movement.
24 consecutively-treated adult patients were randomized to 2 groups: 1) a control group treated with non-extraction alignment or 2) an intervention group treated with non-extraction alignment and piezocision one week after brackets were bonded. All participants had similar malocclusions with only mild – moderate crowding.
Both groups were treated using self-ligating brackets (Damon) and a standardized archwire sequence with a 2 week recall interval. A single blinded orthodontist validated readiness for appliance removal – or gave guidance for further adjustments to be made – based on an evaluation of dental casts and “5 criteria”.
For the intervention group, piezocision was accomplished using a 5mm x 3mm piezoelectric device apical to each interdental papilla. An incision was created before the corticotomy, but no sutures were used. Where root proximity might be a concern, corticotomy was avoided.
For the piezocision group, treatment was 43% faster. That means that the total treatment time was about 7 months less (about 11 months of total treatment time vs. 18 months in the control group). As treatment proceeded, the difference decreased between the two groups in terms of time spent in each archwire, suggesting a decreasing effect of the corticotomies over time.
No adverse outcomes in terms of periodontal health or root resorption were reported – nor were there any apparent differences (increase or decreases) in alveolar bone support or thickness, as assessed by CBCT. 50% of patients experienced some degree of scarring.
WHAT THE PROFESSOR THINKS
Despite some minor drawbacks, this study is one that provides some useful information to clinicians with a patient population who demand accelerated treatment. A description of the randomization process and the “5 criteria” used to determine if treatment was complete would be very helpful.
Nonetheless, using a single blinded examiner who evaluated casts and used objective criteria to determine when treatment was complete for both the piezocision and the control groups was a clever design. Using total treatment time as the outcome, rather than just the time to initial alignment, makes the study results more relevant to practicing clinicians.
As in previous reports, the acceleratory phenomenon was limited to a period of time early in treatment (the authors suggest about 4 months). For non-extraction patients with mild-moderate crowding, a single procedure was enough to yield a clinically-relevant reduction in treatment time of 7 months. It is imperative to note that the reported recall rate during treatment was 2 weeks. That means treatment is accelerated, but it is no more efficient for the patient or the orthodontist – since an increased number of office visits would be required.
The findings presented in this study suggest that less-invasive piezocision may carry with it a low risk of adverse outcomes. No participants experienced a loss of root structure or bony support, as judged using CBCT. Interestingly however, half of the piezocision participants did experience scarring of the gingiva, an outcome that could have very negative effects on a patient with a high esthetic demand.
For the practicing orthodontist, this study carries with it some helpful information to guide patients when they ask for quicker treatment:
Will treatment time be shorter? Yes.
By how much? About 7 months.
Are there risks? Yes – and we still do not know the full extent of those risks, including the esthetic risk of scarred gingiva.
Will it be more convenient? No. (Remember, the reported recall interval in this study was 2 weeks.)
Article Reviewed: Charavet C, et al. Localized Piezoelectric Alveolar Decortication for Orthodontic Treatment in Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Dent Res. April 2016.
BY LORNE D. KOROLUK
A recent study in the AJO-DO summarized findings from a Cochrane Review that re-investigated evidence regarding orthodontic treatment for prominent maxillary incisors and Class II malocclusion in children. The authors identified three randomized clinical trials (Florida, North Carolina, and United Kingdom) that compared outcomes of two-phase treatment in the mixed dentition and permanent dentition versus single phase treatment in the permanent dentition.
Data from all three clinical trials showed no statistically significant difference between final overjet, final ANB, final PAR score and self-concept score. Early functional appliance therapy, however, was shown to reduce the risk of incisor trauma which was reported as a number needed to treat (NNT=10). This suggests an orthodontist must treat 10 such patients in order to prevent 1 incidence of new incisal trauma. Analysis of early headgear treatment in the North Carolina and Florida studies showed a significant reduction in the risk for new incisor trauma that prevented 1 incidence of new trauma for every 6 patients treated. No differences were found between early functional appliance and headgear treatment for all variables, including incidence of trauma.
In the discussion the authors raise some very salient issues and advise caution interpreting the results. The authors conclude that there are no advantages in providing 2-phase treatment compared to single-phase treatment in early adolescence, except for a potential reduction in risk for new incisor trauma.
WHAT THE PROFESSOR THINKS
The authors have used systematic review and meta-analysis to combine data from three groups of randomized clinical trials to increase the power of the statistical analysis. In the analysis, trauma is very simplistically defined as new incisor trauma versus no new incisor trauma. Incisor trauma consists of a very wide continuum ranging from minor craze lines and enamel fractures to very serious fractures, luxations and avulsion.
The Florida and North Carolina studies used the Ellis and NHANES III classifications respectively to identify the severity of new trauma. The United Kingdom study did not rate the severity of trauma, but instead simply coded trauma as yes or no. Readers must very carefully apply these findings to individual patients. The yes / no definition of new incisor trauma over-simplifies the clinical implications of the findings.
Further, there was wide variability associated with the NNT statistics reported. Careful scrutiny of the statistical analysis shows that risk reduction with the functional appliance could range from 2% to 54% and from 13% to 61% for headgear. Similarly, the confidence intervals for the measure of treatment impact as NNT are quite large: 5 to 175 for functional appliance and 3 to 23 for headgear.
The most important sentence in this article is, “the prevention of trauma should not be the only reason for routinely providing treatment for Class II malocclusion. The decision should be taken as part of a risk evaluation….”
The existing literature, without question, has shown that increased overjet is a significant risk factor for traumatic dental injuries and incisor trauma. Logically, one can infer that reducing overjet should reduce future trauma. Overjet, however, is not the sole risk factor. Dental factors such as overjet, lip incompetence, maxillary protrusion, Class II relationship, and past history of dental trauma are important risk factors. Psychosocial, environmental, and behavioral factors also determine an individual’s future risk. Behavioral and psychosocial factors may be even more important that dental factors, since they place the individual and their teeth in the at-risk situations in the first place.
Clinicians must compare the cost of potentially lengthy orthodontic treatment to reduce risk of incisor trauma to the cost of treating incisor trauma and its potential future sequelae.
One of the North Carolina studies(1) showed that the expected-cost of new incisor trauma was significantly less than the cost of orthodontic intervention to reduce future risk.
Hopefully clinicians (and organized orthodontics) don’t ignore the numerous cautionary warnings by the authors. A narrow interpretation of the results to justify early orthodontic treatment as a necessity for all children in the mixed dentition with increased overjet is certainly not an evidence-based conclusion.
Article Reviewed: Thiruvenkatachari B, Harrison J, Worthington H, O'Brien K. Early orthodontic treatment for Class II malocclusion reduces the chance of incisal trauma: Results of a Cochrane systematic review. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 2015;148:47-59