In this article, Dr Mark Bowes delves into the world of accessible smile transformations. Dr Bowes emphasises his patient-centric philosophy and the importance of understanding each patient’s unique needs and experiences. He explores the transformative potential of Invisalign® technology, showcasing how it can address a variety of dental issues with minimal discomfort and maximum results. With a focus on preserving natural teeth and achieving optimal outcomes, Dr Bowes sheds light on the affordability and effectiveness of Invisalign® compared to traditional braces. Join us on a journey through relationship dentistry and the innovative world of clear aligners.
The Patient-Centered Approach: Dr. Bowes’ Philosophy
Dentistry has been a significant part of my life for over 40 years, and my philosophy is simple: treat the person, not the patient.
Invisalign® treats a range of teeth straightening issues, ranging from minor tooth movements to more complex cases. And I find the technology, process and treatment experience to align perfectly with my approach.
Understanding the Smile Journey: Factors Beyond Dental History
We all know how daunting visits to the dentist can be, so I make it my goal to put patients at ease from the minute they step into my surgery.
So, my approach is centred around relationship dentistry – always advocating for transparency and communication. The patient’s needs should be carefully considered before even thinking about the way forward. When they enter my room, the first thing we do is show them to the consultation area. They are encouraged to sit down, relax and get comfortable in their surroundings while we engage in some casual conversation.
Aside from their dental and medical history, it’s important to understand a patient’s personality, insecurities, and experiences. These are contributing factors to how they see themselves, how they view their needs and what led to them being who and where they are. Going as far as childhood, lifestyle and daily habits often determine or contribute to dental makeup or condition.
Minimally Invasive Smile Makeovers: A Gentle Approach
As an advanced restorative dentist, many of my patients come and see me with the hope of restoring or rehabilitating their smile. I believe in devising a treatment plan that would require the least amount of dentistry (and so, the least discomfort) while delivering the best results using minimally invasive procedures.
Because I always aim to preserve as much of the biology and function of the natural teeth as possible, I often include clear aligner therapy for ceramic restorations. For example, instead of shaving or drilling away parts of the teeth that are protruding or crooked, I incorporate Invisalign® into the treatment plan to ensure teeth are all in position, and sometimes even pushed back a few millimetres beyond the ideal, to make way for veneers placed in front of the teeth.
Affordability and Accessibility: Invisalign® vs. Extensive Dental Work
Often, patients come in with the disheartened notion that they’ll need extensive dental work to achieve their desired results, which they expect would cost them a small fortune. However, they soon realise that all they need is aligner therapy, whitening and bonding to restore or even transform their smile completely. So, in the grand scheme of things, Invisalign® makes this dream much more affordable than they imagined.
Invisalign® vs. Traditional Braces: The Clear Choice
While traditional braces were once used to straighten teeth, I have long since abolished this method from my treatment plan and replaced it with aligner therapy. Braces are very noticeable in the mouth, uncomfortable, difficult to clean, and limit what you are allowed to eat. Maintaining oral hygiene also becomes challenging due to the brackets and wires obstructing accessibility to areas of the teeth.
In addition to this, treatment often takes longer than with aligner therapy, with less predictable or accurate results. Furthermore, with braces, your dentist or orthodontist would need to carefully control the forces to avoid teeth moving into the incorrect position should they move too rapidly.
Seamless Integration into Daily Life: Invisalign® Benefits
Invisalign® aligners are discreet, treatment is predictable and accurate, and patients can engage in daily activities and social gatherings, being mainly oblivious to the magic happening in their mouths. I advise my patients to wear their clear aligners for 20 to 22 hours a day, removing them only to eat or to drink hot beverages since the heat could cause damage to the aligner material.
Once they’ve eaten, they’re able to easily brush and floss their teeth before popping the aligners back into their mouth, so there are no disruptions to their daily routines, oral hygiene or typical diet. Moreover, results are achieved within a considerably shorter period of time than the treatment period with braces.
The Art of Precision Planning: Invisalign® Technology
I find Invisalign® to use the most advanced technology. Every step in the process is carefully thought out and customised, holding the patient in mind and playing a pivotal role in the patient experience and the end result. Despite the intricate technology, the treatment process is relatively straightforward.
First, we chat with the patient to understand their needs and examine whether the condition of their oral health (no sign of decay or gum disease) makes them eligible for treatment. Then, a series of dental records in the form of photos, x-rays and digital scans are taken to create a customised 3D treatment plan. We carefully communicate this plan to the patient to ensure they understand exactly what to expect. A ClinCheckⓇ is a short 3D animation that allows you to see your predicted result before you even begin the Invisalign® process.
We continue to take scans of the patient’s mouth for the duration of treatment. This allows us to carefully track progress throughout the treatment process and ensure that results at each phase align with what was predicted.
Using these 3D scans, a series of Invisalign® clear aligners are custom-designed and made for you. Only Invisalign®clear aligners use SmartTrack® material, made using state-of-the-art 3D printing technology, shaping your smile with precision, comfort and predictability. The aligners apply gentle, constant force for each tooth movement – and each movement is scientifically controlled. In some instances, Invisalign® aligners will need SmartForce® attachments. These are tiny attachments to your teeth that help your aligners apply the right amount of force in the right direction.
Unveiling the Invisalign® Transformation: Realising the Smile of Your Dreams
I have seen phenomenal results with Invisalign®. Having pioneered aligner technology, they are a highly recognised global brand and invest in continuous research and development to ensure that the latest and most advanced technology is always incorporated. Meticulous and precise planning forms the basis of all my treatment plans, which is what I find to form an integral part of the Invisalign® process, especially for complex cases. So, I can quite comfortably say that when considering aligner therapy for my patients, Invisalign® would be my first choice.
Dr Mark Bowes is the co-founder and clinical director of Enamel Clinic in Cape Town, South Africa, specialising in Advanced Restorative and Aesthetic Dentistry.
A Multidisciplinary practice, Enamel Clinic is an official Digital Smile Design (DSD) clinic and the first DSD clinic in Africa. Dr Bowes is a World DSD Master and Instructor. He pioneered the development of DSD in South Africa, a concept allowing dentists to develop and restore smiles that fit the individual patient’s aesthetic and functional needs whilst providing minimally invasive dentistry. He is a KOL for numerous influential dental companies.
He is a global ambassador for empowerment and outreach organisations: The Humble Smile Foundation, Dental Wellness Trust and Greenviu, a silver member of the prestigious group Styleitaliano, and an ambassador for Slow Dentistry Global Network®.
Dr Mark’s many accolades and instrumental role in the development of dentistry in South Africa have earned him a well-respected position in the field globally. He serves as a mentor and inspiration to many dentists, young and experienced.