I think about orthodontists being, in a way, like restorative dentists. They are moving teeth and they're facilitating occlusions. And because of this, I believe it's very important for them to have a strong understanding and working knowledge of centric relation.
Orthodontists play a vital role in the final outcome of some cases
We learn as complete dentists in The Dawson Academy the necessity of working in centric relation. We want to create balance and harmony between the teeth and the joints. We understand the signs of instability that can occur if this harmony is not obtained. Orthodontists have such a significant role in the outcome of our cases. I feel it's imperative for them to understand centric relation so that the outcome for our patients is the most predictable and successful that it can be.
Starting the dialogue with the orthodontists
The best way to align your vision with them is to go and meet with them. I like to bring my mounted models and help them understand what my goals are. The challenge we have as restorative dentists is I know what my end point is, I know what I want to achieve and as Pete says, "We can see the end in mind. I just don't always know how to get there orthodontically, so I really rely on their input on the tooth movement and how can we accomplish this."
I think it starts with that conversation and having mounted models and helping them understand why we can't treat patients in their maximum intercuspal position, why it's important to have that harmony with centric relation for the best longterm stability.
Straightening teeth really is not the challenge these days
When I help patients understand the need for orthodontic treatment, it's almost always for functional reasons. When the orthodontists help us to get teeth into the desired position, we can be more conservative with our restorations. We can actually minimize the amount of dentistry that is needed and that is why it's so important for them to understand this concept.
Continue to meet with them throughout the case.
If I have a patient in orthodontics, I'll check the patient every six months and then prior to completion. Every time I check the patient, I give the orthodontist a status report, guiding them along the way, always reviewing our goals of wanting the teeth in harmony with centric relation.
Learn more about verifying and utilizing centric relation in Functional Occlusion - From TMJ to Smile Design. Learn More Here!