ALIGN TECHNOLOGY, INC. (San Jose, CA)

A dental template for locating an object on a patient’s tooth involves digitizing the tooth of the patient; adding virtual objects to certain locations on the digital tooth; and fabricating the dental template to locate the object’s location on the tooth of the patient. This template can be used to create brackets or etch marks on teeth.

The invention can generally be applied to orthodontics.

One of the goals of orthodontics is to shift the teeth of a patient to an ideal position so that the teeth function at their best and look beautiful. Traditional appliances like braces and wires are able to be placed on the teeth of a person by atreatment provider such as an orthodontist, or a educated dentist. The appliance is put over the teeth and applies an unstoppable pressure. This slowly moves the teeth to their ideal position. Over a period of time, the dentist adjusts the braces as well as the wires to help move the teeth towards their final destination.

Many orthodontic brackets can be connected directly to the patient’s teeth. Typically, a small quantity of adhesive is applied to the base of each bracket and then the bracket is put on the tooth of choice. Before the adhesive is set it is moved around to a desired location on the tooth. Once the adhesive is established, the bracket can be bonded to the tooth. This ensures that it is strong enough to withstand any future orthodontic force. This method has one disadvantage. It is difficult to identify the most suitable surface for placing brackets when teeth are extremely crowded, or teeth where the bonding surface is blocked by teeth on the opposite arch. The treatment provider might have difficulties locating the bracket in relation to the tooth surface if there are posterior teeth. The time required to carry out the bonding procedure could be an inconvenience for the patient and for the treating professional. Additionally, the need to minimize contamination by moisture from salivary glands of patients can extend the procedure and also unduly impair the accuracy of positioning the brackets on the teeth. These factors could increase the chance that the final bond will not be strong enough to hold the brackets securely in the course of treatment. One option to overcome some of the limitations of direct bracket placement is through indirect bonding. In most cases it is necessary to take an impression of every of the patient’s dental arches is taken. A replica of the plaster or “stone” model is made from each impression , and then it is sealed. Brackets are bonded to the sealed stone models using a temporary cement. Transfer tray is made by placing matrix material over the model and the brackets attached to the model. A heated matrix material made of plastic sheet may be used to cover the brackets and model. It can then be pressurized. The sheet of plastic takes on a shape that is precisely the same as the shape of the teeth replica of the stone model, and the brackets are placed in the exact position that is desired. Once it has cooled, the material forms a tray. Once the temporary adhesive is removed then permanent adhesive is placed on the bottom of every bracket in the tray. The tray with the embedded brackets is then placed over the corresponding parts of the patient?s dental arches. Since the arrangement of the inside of the tray is closely matched to the specific portions of the patient’s dental arches, each bracket is ultimatelypositioned on the teeth of the patient at exactly the same position that is the same as the previous position of the bracket on the stone model. This procedure is laborious since the adhesive is cured and the matrix material is removed. This method is not without a issue with brackets: they can get loose when removing of the matrix material off the dental arches. The issue of having access to the tooth surface for optimal placementin the event of teeth that are severely crooked or teeth that block the arch in the opposite direction so that brackets cannot be placed is also not addressed.

Methods like those are described in U.S. Pat. are novel. No. No. Polymeric shell appliances provide more comfort, are less noticeable and easily removed treatments. This significantly improves the level of patient compliance, comfort satisfaction, and happiness.

Since each patient is unique and requires customized treatment, on occasion, a patient might require wires/braces in combination with shell appliances. The device must allow precise bracket placement on the teeth, while minimizing the risk of them being moved due to the removal of the matrix. It also allows final placement without consideration of other geometries. This means that the positioning of tooth surfaces that are opaque could be done at a later time when the tooth surfaces have beenexposed through initial uncrowding of severely overcrowded teeth.

A dental template is provided that allows the positioning of objects on the tooth of a patient. The item is aligned so that the objects are aligned according to an arrangement that is defined by the user. The method for fabricating the template is disclosed. The method comprises scanning the teeth of the patient and putting virtual objects in specific positions on the digitized tooth as well as making the dental template in order to place the object on the teeth of the patient.

Advantages of the template may be one or more of the following. It is possible to use the template to make brackets on your teeth. The treatment is done online and the positioning of the brackets could be performed using a template device which is a removable guide. This allows for precise bracket placement and can be used to put brackets on particular teeth, regardless of the geometry of the arch. It is simpler for an untrained person or someone with less experience to bond a bracket using the template. The system reduces the variance in perception of distance and angles. The template permits precise control of the positioning of the bracket. The template enhances precision in treatment between patient and patient as well as tooth to tooth.

The bracket is not contained in the device as conventional indirect bonding templates (IDB). Instead the device guides the user to where the bracket is needed according to the geometry fit.

Click here to view the patent on USPTO website.

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