Intraoral appliances are commonly used in dental practice, and multiple members of the dental team are involved in the fabrication process, according to an ADA Clinical Evaluators Panel report published in the December issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association.
The report, which includes the responses of 286 ACE Panel member dentists, found 88% of respondents provided patients with intraoral appliances other than removable partial dentures. More than half offered bleaching trays, flippers or Essix retainers, splints, athletic mouthguards, orthodontic retainers, fluoride trays, and clear aligners. Most dentists said they offer intraoral appliances as treatment options for their patients daily or a few times a week.
Nearly all responding dentists indicated they were personally involved in delivering intraoral appliances to their patients, and 72% said their dental assistants were involved in the processes of taking impressions and making models.
Dentists educate patients about appliance use through multiple approaches, including speaking with them, providing them with printed materials or showing them examples, and most said continuing education courses contributed to their own competency in providing intraoral appliances.
"With 88% of respondents providing intraoral appliances routinely and 90% having engaged in continuing education courses about their use, that indicates a trend that shows they are becoming a routine part of dental practice, with both increasing applications and improvements in workflows and fabrication technologies," said Kevin Frazier, D.M.D., one of the report's co-authors. "There is likely to be ongoing and expanding interest in relevant learning opportunities about technologic advances and the increasingly diverse list of applications for intraoral appliances."
While applications for intraoral appliances have expanded, responses in the ACE Panel report suggest dentists use a mix of conventional and digital workflows to fabricate the appliances, with conventional methods outnumbering digital methods by about 4 to 1. The most common practice changes respondents reported experiencing in the past five years with respect to intraoral appliances related to intraoral scanning and the increased variety of intraoral appliances they offer to patients.
Dentists can view the entire ACE Panel report online and download the PDF at JADA.ADA.org.
ACE Panel reports feature data from ADA member dentists who have signed up to participate in short surveys related to dental products, practices and other clinical topics. The ACE Panel Oversight Subcommittee of the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs writes the reports with ADA Science & Research Institute staff.
The reports offer ADA members a way to understand their peers' opinions on various dental products and practices, providing insight and awareness that can benefit patients and the profession.
Members are invited to join the ACE Panel and contribute to upcoming surveys, which occur no more than once every few months and usually take five to 10 minutes to complete.
To learn more or join the ACE Panel, visit ADA.org/ACE.