COMING OF AGE
This is Part three of a three-part series: Generations of Smiles is a historic telling of the origins of orthodontics, all the way to today. Part one of the series taught us about the Birth of Modern Orthodontics and part two shared with us An Orthodontic Renaissance - both of which you can read more about in the September and October issues of Bracket Chatter.
According to the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics there are currently four generations of orthodontists in the workforce. Thankfully Forever Smiles boasts two of the finest Buffalo Grove has to offer. When we left off in our last issue of Bracket Chatter’s Generation of Smiles, the Baby Boomer Orthodontic Specialists began to explore the importance of individualized treatment options which made way for the revolutionary, aesthetic and technologic orthodontic accomplishments of today’s Generation X followed by the Millennials.
Many of those in Generation X (1961-1981) grew up in dual income families who were said to be the first generation not to be as financially successful as their parents. Theirs was a cohort who displayed individualism and skepticism, but with a drive for results and a desire for getting a job done well. As a reflection of this, gold was more universally abandoned in the 1960s in favor of stainless steel bringing the cost of orthodontics down considerably. And by the 1970s, major breakthroughs such as development of a dental adhesive used to bond miniature brackets to teeth eliminated the need of bands around the teeth, thus beginning the era of aesthetic orthodontics. Along with these developments, elastics gained in popularity and self-litigating or ligature-less brackets reappeared allowing for greater control of force and movement in treatment. Also introduced in this generation is titanium alloys offering greater stiffness, strength, and range.
The 1980’s brought to orthodontics the first aesthetic ceramic brackets made from single crystal sapphire and polycrystalline zirconia. Although in the coming decades these products are replaced and refined, their appearance in the field of orthodontics opened the door for those who once bristled at the stigma of wearing braces. This decade also found the arrival of many innovative techniques to the U.S. from across the globe and introduces us to our first notable and favorite orthodontist!
In 1987, Dr. Yan Razdolsky earned his graduate degree in orthodontics and went to work with a prominent orthodontist on the west side of Chicago. In just six short months, he says he learned more than he had in two years of residency.
“It takes years to learn some of the techniques and procedures that I learned in practical application and working with real patients,” said Dr. Yan. “It wasn’t until years later that I realized just how valuable that experience was and how it influenced who I am as an orthodontist today.”
While many of the techniques which Dr. Yan learned were innovative back then, many are far more mainstream today. For that reason alone, they inspired him to develop his own techniques for which he has held five patents.
Notable orthodontic achievements of Generation X:
- By the 1970 orthodontic appliances evolved into the traditional systems most of us recognize today as comprised of wires and brackets.
- 1975 Lingual Braces (brackets placed on the back of the teeth) were introduced.
- Debut of bonded miniature brackets, marking the arrival of esthetic orthodontics.
- CAD/CAM technology first introduced to dentistry in 1985
- 1987 First clear, tooth-colored ceramic brackets introduced using translucent polycrystalline alumina or TPA. Initially a product developed by NASA and Ceradyne, Inc., a global leader in manufacture of advanced ceramics for aerospace, defense, electronics, and industrial use.
- As an aside, the 2016 AAO membership data shows that 41.9% of practicing orthodontists are Gen-Xers.
The Millennials or Generation Y (1982-2001) grew up a generation that is optimistic, tech savvy, confident, team-oriented, and achievement focused. They are smart, flexible and command respect. According to AAO’s 2016 membership data, 11.8% of practicing orthodontists are Millennials.
At the start of this generation to its close at the century mark, we can proudly reflect on the innovations and achievements of the era which brought us electricity, the automobile, aviation, electronics, civil rights, space exploration, and the computer age. Some might suggest that mankind accrued more knowledge in the 20th century than in all prior ones combined. It can then be argued that orthodontic developments during this time reflect those feats. Like computers and tech, the field of orthodontics strived to make things better, smaller, more aesthetic, yet functional and with accurately calculated results. These modern-day orthodontic marvels are more effective, efficient, and discreet than ever with self-ligating systems teeth can be straightened without elastic bands, while clear ceramic braces and aligners such as Invisalign are barely noticeable. The introduction of Temporary Anchorage Devices or TADs afford our Forever Smiles team the ability to better control movement using a less invasive and secure anchor. This, along with 3-D planning software means they can create a customized treatment program unique to each patient based on their unique facial and dental features. What’s more they can even give patients a sneak preview of what their smile will look like at the end of treatment.
A model example of her generation, Dr. Elizabeth Razdolsky Michalczyk brings to Forever Smiles thousands of hours of hands-on experience, helping hundreds of patients achieve cleaner, straighter smiles. Her residency at the Georgia School of Orthodontics is a testament to her craft as it offered her the opportunity to work in a state-of-the-art clinical setting with the latest orthodontic appliances and cutting-edge diagnostic technology representing generations of research and technology.
“Successful orthodontic treatment requires a thorough understanding of biology and physics,” said Dr. Liz. “The science behind today’s orthodontic correction and alignment isn’t just a simple straightening of teeth, but a complex orchestration of diagnosis, prevention, mechanics, technology, and art. All the things we have learned to this point have culminated to help us bring patients their beautiful Forever Smile. What a time to be in orthodontics,” she added.
Notable orthodontic achievements of the Millennial Generation:
- Introduction of continuous fiber composites and CP-titanium products
- Improved sliding mechanics with ceramic-bracket inserts and self-ligating brackets
- Invisalign introduced to the market in 1999
- Temporary Anchorage Devices (TADs) introduced in 2005