This past October, the 3Shape Orthodontics Advisory Board met for the first time in Copenhagen. The five new board members, all from different parts of the world, are respected leaders in orthodontics and recognized digital technology experts.
Dr. Carlo Marassi from Brazil is a clinic owner and a prominent member of a wide range of orthodontic organizations in Rio de Janeiro. He also teaches advanced education programs in Orthodontics, gives lectures and presents workshops in Brazil and abroad. Dr. Marassi is a strong believer in using technology to advance orthodontic care.
After the meetings, Dr. Marassi took a few minutes to speak to 3Shape about digital orthodontics, intraoral scanning, and his views on the future of the industry in Brazil.
Are many Brazilian orthodontists using intraoral scanning today?
The technology is becoming more and more widespread and available and I think that in relatively few years it will become the standard in Brazil. When that happens, we will completely cease using Gypsum models for initial records.
Is it traditionally more common for initial records to take place in the clinic or in the lab?
We have a somewhat special situation in Brazil. Most of the orthodontic clinics do not make models for initial records. Traditionally, clinics send the patient to a special imaging center where trained personnel take pictures, x-rays and create the models. After this, the center sends all of this information, including the models back to the orthodontist who carries out the diagnostics and treatment planning after seeing the patient for a clinical examination.
What are the benefits that digital technologies bring to your orthodontic business?
I can name quite a few, but let's start with storage. I have been practicing orthodontics for more than 20 years now, and by law, we have to keep our case records for 10 years. We rent another office just to store all our gypsum models. One of the first things that we will do with our digital system is to digitize all our models and close our special storage rooms. This is one way that the technology is already saving us money, not to mention the time and manpower it takes to maintain a physical storage system.
Are there other advantages to keeping models digitally?
Gypsum models are typically fragile and can break, and then you simply lose the case information. This cant happens with digital models. Naturally, we back up our digital archives like any critical IT system. But the option to create digital models makes the whole matter of archiving cases cheaper, more efficient and more robust.
How does the digital technology affect your work with patients?
Digital orthodontics makes it easier for us to communicate with patients. It's great to have a 3D image of the patient's occlusal situation and to show this to the patient during clinical examinations. Showing the 3D model makes it much easier to describe problems and treatments because most people do not know what “occlusion” means or have never even seen their own backmost teeth. They don't know what a cross-bite or other orthodontic problems look like. When you can show the patient a 3D image, including occlusion already from the first visit, it helps their understanding of the problem and its treatment options. This understanding also helps motivate them towards taking the next step in treatment.
How will digital technology affect the Brazilian orthodontics market?
Brazil is a huge market. We have more than 20,000 orthodontists and we are one of the countries in the world with most orthodontists in relation to the overall population. Orthodontists need to start adapting if they want to compete and stay in business. Like in any country, these technologies are revolutionizing the way we work and therefore also the orthodontic market. The advantages are so powerful - with the model storage savings, improved communication, reduced chair time, efficient treatment planning software tools – that success in the market will soon be defined by those who have adapted to the technology.
Why is the orthodontic market in Brazil so enormous?
Brazil has 345 post-graduate schools for orthodontics so we have many new orthodontists expanding the market every year. But its also a matter of Brazilian culture. Many Brazilians are self-conscience about their appearance; they want to be able to show a nice smile. Television in Brazil traditionally displays attractive people and the standard of what a nice smile looks like is very high. Many people look for Orthodontic treatment because a nice smile enhances their status. Along with this, the economy has improved in the last decade and Brazil becomes, by nominal GDP (Gross Domestic Product), the seventh-largest in the world in terms of purchasing power parity. We have a growing middle class and more and more of them want to pay for a nice smile.
Carlo Marassi completed his specialization in Orthodontics at State University - São Paulo. His long list of professional achievements include - Master of Science degree - SLM Dentistry Research Center - Campinas, Mini-residence - Michigan University - Ann Arbor - US, Scientific director of the Brazilian Society of Orthodontists, Vice-director of the Society of Orthodontics of Rio de Janeiro, Scientific director of the Straight- Wire Group of Rio de Janeiro, WFO fellow and American Association of Orthodontists member. He has 20 years of experience in Orthodontics through his private practice. He is also Editor in chief - Clinical Orthodontics - Dental Press, President, and CEO of Marassi Training Institute, and recognized International Lecturer.