So much has changed since COVID-19 struck, including how we care for our teeth. A trip to the dentist to get a healthier, straighter smile looks much different than it did a few months ago, so we chatted with Dr. Peter Brawn, whose Vancouver-based dental practice is focused on accelerated Invisalign treatment, about what we can expect during our next appointment (plus, why accelerated Invisalign is the perfect pandemic treatment). —Vita Daily
Hi Dr. Brawn! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.
I have been practising dentistry for 34 years. I graduated from McGill University in 1986 and moved to Vancouver after. I have been in private practice since then. I am also an inventor and developed the OrthoPulse system, which can reduce orthodontic treatment time by up to 50 per cent. I have more than 20 patents issued for a variety of inventions in this field.
COVID-19 really impacted the dental-services industry. How have you adjusted to all of the change, and what measures have you implemented in your practice since re-opening to ensure patient and staff safety?
For staff, we have implemented a mandatory daily health and symptom questionnaire to ensure the team is free of symptoms and they haven’t been near other symptomatic or COVID-19 positive folks. All patients are requested to NOT come to the dental practice if they have any symptoms or have associated with positive-tested people as well. We have implemented a rigorous regime of hand washing, tooth brushing and a hydrogen peroxide mouth rinse before patients are seated. The rinse in particular has been shown to drastically reduce the potential of viruses in the oral cavity. We installed plexiglass barriers between the treatment rooms as well as Ultraviolet-C (UVC) light fixtures throughout the practice, particularly over the treatment areas. The UVC fixtures are used to disinfect both surfaces and the air between every patient visit. There are now many published studies now showing the extreme effectiveness of UVC treatment of air and surfaces to inactivate the SARS-2 virus.
Can patients expect a similar or a very different dental experience to what they were used to pre-pandemic?
Mostly the same; our practice is limited to Invisalign clear aligner orthodontic treatment, so we do very little truly invasive treatment. Our routine barriers and infection control procedures are more than sufficient to protect patients.
What can we, as patients, do to ensure a safe, healthy and positive visit to your dental office?
Call and reschedule if you have any symptoms; it’s always better to be cautious. Other than that, patients should feel very comfortable that we are going above and beyond the basic COVID-19 infection control.
You specialize in accelerated Invisalign treatment—can you give an overview of this treatment?
We have all our patients utilize the OrthoPulse device, which uses low levels of near infra-red light to gently stimulate the bone around teeth to allow orthodontic tooth movement to occur at a faster rate and with less pain. OrthoPulse is a small device the patient takes home and uses every day. The device goes in the mouth for only 5 minutes on the upper teeth and 5 minutes on the lower teeth. The gentle near infrared light therapy increases blood flow and bone remodelling so that teeth can move faster and with less pain than with conventional orthodontic treatment.
Beyond the usual benefits, are there any special benefits of combining Invisalign technology with near-infrared light therapy pertaining to the “new normal”?
Shorter treatment times mean fewer appointments and less chance of gum disease, cavities or white spots that can occur with long term orthodontic treatment. In addition, we use a remote monitoring technology for which we have patients take high-resolution photos with their smartphone every 4-5 days. That allows us to follow treatment progress in a much more detailed and effective way than only seeing patients in person every 6-8 weeks, as is often typical.
May seem like a silly question but … with everyone wearing masks over their mouths these days, does oral/dental health/hygiene and/or straightening our teeth still matter?!
YES! Straight teeth help improve jaw comfort, chewing ability, reduce gum disease or the chance of tooth decay, as well as make flossing and brushing much easier.