Braces have evolved a lot over the past 20 years. From advancements in materials to overall system improvements, the braces systems of today are far more advanced. In order to get more insights on how braces — and, more specifically, Damon products — have evolved, we sat down with Dr. Jeffrey Heinz of Spillane & Reynolds in Novi, Michigan. Dr. Heinz has practiced orthodontics since 2017 and, to date, he has seen more than 3000 patients. Typically, Dr. Heinz sees about 80 to 130 patients a day. He received certification from the American Board of Orthodontics in 2018.
Q: Thank you for taking the time to meet with us. Could you speak in detail about the technology of the Damon Braces system, and highlight for prospective patients how and why they work?
Dr. Heinz: Dr. Dwight Damon wanted to go against the grain. He saw opportunities that the orthodontic community could improve upon, so he took it upon himself to become a trailblazer and really get the ball rolling with evolving braces technology. The evolution of the Damon bracket has been a game-changer over the last 10 years. The main advantage of the Damon System is, when you think of traditional braces, wire slides into a metal bracket that was held on only by a strong rubber band. If you can, picture trying to slide a thin piece of wire by a rubber band that is latched on to it. That creates a lot of friction and doesn’t allow the wire to slide that easily. Dr. Damon thought there might be a better way of doing this. He wondered, “What if we encase the wire 360 degrees with a bracket that was metal on all sides with more room to move freely?”
Over the past 20 years of doctors using Damon Systems, we now realize the Damon System is just a better way of doing things. Damon products allows me to achieve a different kind of smile, generally without extractions. With Damon we can treat to the patient’s facial design instead of just looking at the teeth. This allows us to treat to the aesthetic profiles and contours of everyone’s face for a custom, beautiful smile instead of just getting the teeth to fit together. This really sets us apart from the competition because we can produce bigger, broader smiles while providing more lip support.
Q: Describe, in your experience, the advancements in braces technology and how that technology has helped with malocclusion treatments, patient experience, pain threshold, speed of wear time and any other relevant advancements.
Dr. Heinz: Another key factor of the Damon System is the ability to use light, continuous forces that allow treatment to be efficient for patients and practitioners. Originally developed by NASA, this technology uses copper NiTi wires. We are also able to apply lighter forces on patients. Lighter forces help to promote efficient teeth movement and can be more comfortable for patients. We can see patients every eight to ten weeks (as opposed to the average four to six weeks) and wires are still moving the teeth throughout the entire treatment time. This differs from before the latest Damon System, when we were seeing people every four weeks and always tightening things.
Braces have become a common treatment for gummy smiles. Before new technology, like Damon braces and temporary anchorage devices (TADs), gummy smiles usually required surgery for gum correction because you have to fix not only the actual gums, but also the display upon smiling. Some people have an issue where they show too much of their gums when they smile, while other people show an uneven amount of gums on either the right or left. With the help of TADs and the Damon System’s variable torque bracket selection, we can, in many cases, intrude those teeth and reduce some gummy smiles without surgery. Before we may have been required to break someone’s jaw to get rid of their gummy smile, whereas now we can put a few temporary implants in painlessly without a shot. We can use those implants to anchor the bone and bring all the teeth up and re-contour and decrease those gummy smiles. Some of the before and after images truly show how remarkable the technology and treatment can be. This is a fun thing for us ortho nerds, but it’s also life changing for our patients. They no longer have to go through an expensive surgery, which costs about $20,000 dollars, that can be scary and require a lot of time off from work or school. To be able to do these kinds of things is life changing thanks to the advances in orthodontics — specifically the Damon Systems.
Q: Are there any future products or systems on the horizon that you see really advancing orthodontics into the future?
Dr. Heinz: Yes! This is one of the more exciting things in the last year and a half for our practice, which has participated in a clinical study before products are released for sale. Dr. Damon has come up with another revolutionary idea in the way brackets and wires interact internally. His new ideas center around the shape of the wires, the shape of the brackets, and the sequences of wires that we use. This is really going to change the game in orthodontics. We are always under pressure to do things better and faster, and there are more people than ever trying to get ortho work done. At the end of the day, patients want beautiful, fast, and painless results. Using what I believe to be state-of-the-art products, we will hopefully be able to create a new standard of care and a more quality of finish at a much quicker pace compared to what we were able to do. What we have witnessed using this new design in our office, is that we are able to reach Damon’s quality finish/smile much earlier. I believe this will make braces a good option for more people. We anticipate this will reduce treatment times significantly. This enables patients not to have to sacrifice or compromise because they want faster treatment times. In our observations, these new products will be able to provide patients with the Damon quality smile that they are looking for — and in a shorter amount of time.
Another advantage of this new technology is that we can act more efficiently with patients’ treatment time. This is an important factor when you consider the current climate with COVID-19. We can see patients faster and in fewer intervals than the industry average. This creates much less risk for exposure and much less office time for patients.
Q: In your opinion, what has been the most impactful improvement in braces technology?
Dr. Heinz: I think it has to be the way the Damon System works together so we don’t have to extract teeth as much. With this technology, we can correct bites faster and use the system with early light force that used to be reserved for later in treatment. Over the past 20 years, advancements in aligner technology have become significant. Using aligner products like Spark™, we can treat patients like we can with braces. Patients don’t have to ask, “Do I want clear aligners or do I want straight teeth and good results?” Now, we can provide beautiful results with aligners. In my practice, I would say 95% of our cases can be treated with aligners. This isn’t how it used to be. It was probably about 15% for us. We are now able to treat more patients and make more people happy because of all the technological advancements and products we have at our disposal.