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Dental Breakthrough: Dentists can now make braces in-house

BEIJING- According to sources, Chinese start-up has created a system that allows dentists to make braces in their clinics, a development that could drastically reduce the cost of orthodontics for patients.

Transparent and easy-to-carry braces are gaining popularity over traditional and bulkier braces. But such new mouthpiece treatments that use 3D modelling come at hefty costs.

The dental industry in China is now dominated by U.S. company Align Technology. The latter has higher market share and its sales have been tripling annually.

AirMico, new Chinese startup hopes to change the dynamics in this market.

In regular procedures, a dentist makes a model of a patient’s teeth and sends it to a mouthpiece maker. After a production plan is finalized, the maker outsources the work to a processing company that uses 3D printers.

AirMico founder Han Yaohui said this process is the reason for long waiting times, high treatment costs and complicated plans.

The startup’s namesake desktop system is a combination of a small laser scanner, a 3D printer, and a multi-axis robotic arm that enables dentists to create mouthpieces in their clinics.

The company said that its system will significantly lower costs while making orthodontics treatments more accessible. Another advantage is that dentists can easily adjust those mouthpieces, or even remake them, to improve their effectiveness and fit.

AirMico also provides a service that helps dentists draw up treatment plans. The aim is to make up for the shortage of skilled orthodontics specialists. Han said Chinese dentists often lack the ability to draw up detailed treatment plans. His company has an in-house orthodontist who would propose plans based on the dentists’ diagnoses.

The company has a plan to offer a service called “Online Offline AirMico Scan Center” that directly matches patients and mouthpiece makers. Patients will get scans at home or designated locations and makers will produce and deliver mouthpieces to them directly. Partner dentists will provide follow-up services.

Patients can get braces for less prices. Online sale of these mouthpieces are expanding rapidly.

For now, AirMico is still not in the position to take on U.S. company Align Technology. AirMico’s objective is to make sales pitches to universities and dentistry experts to establish a good reputation, while seeking funding.

-article published in Nikkei Asian Review

December 26, 2019

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