OrthoAccel Technologies, Inc, HTC Graduate, cuts time patients must wear braces

 

Orthodontics device cuts time patients must wear braces

No one likes to be called "brace face" or "metal mouth," but for most kids and teens, these words are just part of growing up with braces. For adults, wearing braces can be even more embarrassing.

Cedric Campbell is a 54-year-old NASA attorney who's experiencing it first-hand. He originally went to Dr. Vijay Bhagia of Space Center Orthodontists to see about getting some cosmetic work done on his smile. He was told a cosmetic approach would not fix his complicated jaw problems; he would have to wear braces.

"Two years in braces was just not an option," Campbell said. "I told him 'I'm too old for this.' "

Bhagia offered another option: straight teeth in half of the time with less pain if he agreed to wear a new product to the orthodontic market.

AcceleDent is a hands-free, USB-rechargeable, removable mouthpiece worn 20 minutes a day to accelerate bone remodeling and tooth movement with soft vibrations that patients often describe as a gentle massage. The FDA-approved device was developed by the Houston-based company OrthoAccel Technologies and is creating a buzz in the world of orthodontics."It is fast, safe and gentle orthodontics," CEO of OrthoAccel Mike Lowe said. "You get out of braces in half the time - we have consistently seen that."

The scientific technology behind AcceleDent is a concept borrowed from the orthopedic world. Instead of using plaster casts on broken or fractured bones, a vibrating cup could be used to reduce pain and speed up healing - this, in turn, results in a stronger heal.

"That was the origination of this technology, it was not designed for teeth to begin with, it was designed for bone metabolism by orthopedics," Bhagia said. "(AcceleDent) is the application of the same technology using low-magnitude, high-frequency vibrations to allow the bone to be stimulated so it can remodel in a faster manner and therefore affect faster teeth movement."

Patients pay another $500 or more on top of the cost of the braces - the average cost of braces is $5,500, according to the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics - depending on the orthodontist supplying it and the duration of treatment. The device has been on the market for a little over three years but just recently caught on once local orthodontists were able to see the results for themselves.

"I started working with it about a year ago now, but I really jumped on board last December," Bhagia said. "(At that time) I started prescribing it to a lot more of my patients because of its obvious benefits."

The most obvious benefit is that AcceleDent cuts in half the time a patient wears braces.

"So if you think about a traditional treatment of a patient that has to wear braces, it's somewhere between a year and a half to two years," Bhagia said. "If you add on the AcceleDent, now you're looking at somewhere between nine and 15 months."

For 36-year-old Krissy McLean, the decision was a no-brainer.

"As an adult, I think the stigma is a lot greater," McLean said of the device that added $700 to her $6,000 orthodontics bill. "I just didn't want to be in braces for that long … and the results have been fantastic."

One of the structural benefits of AcceleDent is that it reduces the pain from adjustments that patients usually get every few months and can make it difficult for the person to eat or talk.

"This thing gives a lot of relief to a sore mouth," McLean said. "So that is also very beneficial for adults and for young kids especially - I know we will probably be looking into it for our daughter as well."

Campbell agreed, and said that since he started treatment last May, he has never had a sore mouth. He wears the device for 20 minutes every morning.

"Everybody I talked to always talked about how much pain they had when they got an adjustment, and I've never experienced any pain," Campbell said. "I can only attribute that to (the device). … I probably wouldn't even have gotten braces if it weren't for AcceleDent."

AcceleDent also decreases the chance of developing cavities and gum disease.

"When you have all of that extra surface area in your mouth - with the brackets and the arch wires - that's extra surface area where bacteria can accumulate," Lowe said. A faster treatment process means fewer opportunities for bacteria to develop in the metal "plaque traps" and create a need for future dental work.

OrthoAccel has shipped nearly 40,000 units into 2,500 practices nationwide. Lowe said that one independent study found that 100 percent of the patients who used the device were satisfied.

For patients such as Campbell and McLean, the answer was simple.

"If you can afford it, it's worth it," said Campbell, who paid $7,500 for his braces and another $1,000 for the device. "I think people would like nothing more than to ease the pain and get the process over quickly."