The Buzz on HFV by Dr. Bill Dischinger

Dentaltown Magazine

How high-frequency vibration devices help speed clear aligner treatment, more comfortably


by Dr. Bill Dischinger


bration, micropulsation, mechanical stimulation—call it what you wish, we’ve all heard about it and seen articles that either support or dismiss it. Does it work? Is there science behind it? Are they only just “aligner seaters,” basically motorized chewies?

In all honesty, I have no idea. The science behind it is not new and has been used in orthopedic medicine and physical therapy for decades. It makes sense. The orthodontic literature presents conflicting viewpoints, but let’s be honest—all studies in the field of orthodontics do. To isolate all factors, to have no assessor bias and to have full patient compliance is nearly impossible. Even when studies conclude that a product is “effective,” I’m still a bit of a skeptic: Was the study population representative of my patients, my mechanics and my appointment intervals? I need to see a product work in my practice environment before truly believing in it. So I’m here to discuss only my experience using vibration—in particular, high-frequency vibration devices (HFV) from Propel Orthodontics.

We began using vibration technology when it first came on the market, but the cost of the devices was quite high to tag on top of our typical orthodontic fees, and the daily time commitment required of patients proved prohibitive. Even our most motivated patients weren’t consistently using their devices for the required 20 minutes a day.

After high-frequency vibration was introduced—with a cycle of only 5 minutes instead of 20—it became more likely that patients would use the HFV device on a consistent daily basis. This not only led to an increase in patient compliance but also eliminated “buyer’s remorse” inspired by items that were purchased but not used.

Another significant advantage was pricing: We now charge patients only what our costs are for the device. With a pricing model based on practice volume, we’re able to include HFV in treatment with almost no difference in monthly payment. At this point, nearly all of our clear aligner cases include HFV.

Noted benefits of HFV: Reduced pain, faster movement
Any orthodontic treatment has the potential to be uncomfortable at times. With the market shift toward removable clear aligner therapy, managing pain is paramount to practice efficiency, because a removable appliance can’t move teeth if it’s been removed because it hurt too much.

Our patients who use the HFV device report much lower pain levels at the start of treatment and at each aligner change. Some patients who initially elected to not include adjunctive HFV in their treatment asked at their first follow-up appointment if they still could, and they’ve consistently reported that adding HFV has made all the difference. (This is not a scientific research paper—I’m only reporting patient feedback from my office.)

Although many of my colleagues using clear aligners recommend a 7-day patient wear time, with adjunctive HFV we have our patients change their aligners two times each week. Again, rather unscientifically, we have them alternate 4 days and 3 days to accomplish this. We’ve found the teeth have tracked every bit as well with these accelerated changes as our patients doing the typical 1-week changes.

Based on previous usage reports, we tell patients to use the HFV device as needed—often three or four times a day the first week of treatment to help alleviate any soreness. After the first week, we have them use it once a day as prescribed, or as needed. By going to twice-weekly aligner changes, our overall aligner treatment times have drastically decreased. We see the patients less frequently in our office for checks, and our number of refinements has not increased. This could be due to the increased compliance as it relates to comfort, or the partnership between the appliance seating and aligner system.

Two of the most frequent questions we get during initial consults are “How long do you think this will take?” and “Is it going to be uncomfortable?” Having options that directly address patients’ most pressing concerns has proved valuable in helping them decide to move forward with accepting treatment. We want our patients to be happy not just when they’re finished; we want the entire experience to be positive.

Conclusion
Every patient is unique—some present interested only in clear aligner therapy, while other patients’ needs may be best met with the control of passive self-ligating appliances. Either way, predictably delivering clinically excellent finishes, comfortable throughout their treatment, is essential. Comfortable patients are compliant patients. Compliant patients are efficient patients. Efficiency allows growth, efficiency allows free time, and efficiency allows me to travel knowing my cases are predictably tracking.

My goal isn’t necessarily to finish faster—it’s to finish better. It’s about delivering a positive patient experience, with maximum practice efficiency. Our patients are excited about new technology, finishing treatment faster and options that improve treatment comfort. Using HFV and clear aligners such as Spark, our practice efficiency has improved through fewer visits, same or fewer refinements and shorter treatment times—integral in delivering the win-win situation we’re looking for.


Case Study
An adult female patient had already been presented treatment options by her general dentist and another orthodontist. She was interested only in clear aligner therapy, and she was concerned about scheduling visits because of her busy life. She had a deep bite, a deviated midline, mandibular anterior crowding and rotations, and some lingual rolling of her mandibular molars (Fig. 1 and Fig.?5A). It wasn’t the toughest case, but it was going to require compliance with elastics, and excellent tracking to correct her midline and deep bite.

As a Damon Systems Certified Educator, I’ve been using Ormco Damon products for more than 18 years. Most recently, I’ve been involved in previewing the Ormco Spark clear aligner system in the North America market, with more than 60 cases completed or in treatment.

I recommended using Spark clear aligners, referring to testimony from other patients who had completed one series of aligners created by another manufacturer, then moved into Spark refinement aligners. We’ve been told on more than one occasion how smooth the polished edges of Spark aligners felt at the gum line, which could be particularly helpful with this patient’s deep bite.

Based on her interest in accelerated treatment, I also recommended the VPro+ HFV device, explaining how high-frequency vibration has helped my patients change aligners more quickly with excellent tracking.

Digital Implant Therapy
Fig. 1: Initial presentation.
Digital Implant Therapy
Fig. 2: Progress at second visit, after 9.5 weeks.
Digital Implant Therapy
Fig. 3: Progress at third visit, after 14.5 weeks
Digital Implant Therapy
Fig. 4: Final visit, after 19 weeks

An adult female patient had already been presented treatment options by her general dentist and another orthodontist. She was interested only in clear aligner therapy, and she was concerned about scheduling visits because of her busy life. She had a deep bite, a deviated midline, mandibular anterior crowding and rotations, and some lingual rolling of her mandibular molars (Fig. 1 and Fig.?5A, p. 50). It wasn’t the toughest case, but it was going to require compliance with elastics, and excellent tracking to correct her midline and deep bite.

As a Damon Systems Certified Educator, I’ve been using Ormco Damon products for more than 18 years. Most recently, I’ve been involved in previewing the Ormco Spark clear aligner system in the North America market, with more than 60 cases completed or in treatment.

I recommended using Spark clear aligners, referring to testimony from other patients who had completed one series of aligners created by another manufacturer, then moved into Spark refinement aligners. We’ve been told on more than one occasion how smooth the polished edges of Spark aligners felt at the gum line, which could be particularly helpful with this patient’s deep bite.

Based on her interest in accelerated treatment, I also recommended the VPro+ HFV device, explaining how high-frequency vibration has helped my patients change aligners more quickly with excellent tracking.

Treatment begins

Dentaltown Magazine
Figs. 5A–D: Comparing progress at visits 1, 2, 3 and 4.

At the patient’s first follow-up visit (Fig. 2 and Fig. 5B), the initial series of 19 sequential aligners had been completed in 9.5 weeks. The maxillary arch was significantly broadened, with slight omega remaining on maxillary right posterior. Transformational improvements had occurred with leveling and alignment complete, arch form developed and deep bite nearly corrected. A refinement scan was taken, and the patient remained in Aligner #19 for two more weeks, until the series of 19 refinement aligners could be delivered. To facilitate correction of Class II subdivision right molar relationship and achieve coincident midlines, composite attachments were included on maxillary laterals, canines, second bicuspids and first and second molars. Cutouts were requested for Class II elastics on the right side only.

The same twice-weekly aligner advancement protocol was again followed, and a follow-up visit was scheduled in 5 weeks to review occlusion and make any adjustments necessary with elastics. At Visit 3 (Fig. 3 and Fig. 5C), the dentition tracking had been excellent over the 29 sequential aligner exchanges, in what appeared to be fully expressed as prescribed movements. The aligners were fully seated and fitting perfectly. I recommended we continue with Class II elastics at 4.5oz on the right side to achieve Class I molar relationship and canine guidance.

At Visit 4 (Fig. 4, Figs. 5D and 6B), the results were both clinically and aesthetically pleasing, and the patient reported treatment as well-tolerated and “easy.” Achieving results like this in a time frame of just over 4 treatment months is quite remarkable—this wasn’t just mild anterior tipping.

Importantly, there is clinically no visible sign of decreased root length associated with the prescribed accelerated treatment protocol (Figs. 6A–B). In recently published studies, VPro+ has been demonstrated to increase bone remodeling markers1 and to decrease root resorption.2

Dentaltown Magazine
Figs. 6A–B: Comparing alignment and roots before and after treatment.

In my opinion, moving the midline, deep bite correction and uprighting molars to the occlusal plane in this time frame demonstrates adjunctive biological assistance, enhanced seating and an aligner system capable of delivering consistent, controlled forces. The patient had a big role in the success of this case because she demonstrated excellent adherence to the prescribed orthodontic treatment plan. Her HFV compliance tracker showed she missed only one day, and she reported that she wore her aligners consistently all day, every day except for meals, and then quickly replaced them. She could literally see the changes occurring in photos, which kept her motivated to stay on track.

Follow-up retention

A great finish requires and deserves a great retention strategy. All prescribed movements had been achieved as programmed, and after completing 4 days in her final aligner, the patient thought her job was done. She did not wear her final 38th aligner for 5 days before returning for her next scheduled appointment. Orthodontic relapse can occur quickly, and the ideal lower anterior achieved by Aligner 19 had already begun to slightly shift. Fortunately, the high-frequency device was able to help comfortably seat the final aligner and effectively “recapture” the lower incisors.

This occurrence underscores the importance in clear aligner therapy to provide clear instruction for patients to remain in their last aligner until their next scheduled visit, even if it is beyond the normal prescribed wear time. The patient now uses HFV for 5 minutes daily in retention to improve bone density3 surrounding her dentition, helping to preserve the Class I bite and beautiful finish she’d dreamed of for years.


References
1. Alansari S, Atique ,M, Gomez J, Hamidaddin M Thirumoorthy S, et al. The effects of brief daily vibration on clear aligner orthodontic treatment. J World Fed Orthod 2018;7(4) 134-140. (REF)
2. Farouk K, Shipley T, El-Bialy T. Effect of the application of high-frequency mechanical vibration on tooth length concurrent with orthodontic treatment using clear aligners. J Orthod Sci 2018;7:20. (REF)
3. Alikhani M, Sangsuwon C, Alansari S, Nervina JM, Teixeira CC. High Frequency Acceleration: A New Tool for Alveolar Bone Regeneration. JSM Dent Surg 2017;2(4):1026. (REF)


Author Bio
Author Dr. Bill Dischinger earned his degree from the Oregon Health & Science University School of Dentistry and his certificate in orthodontics at Tufts University in Boston. Dischinger, an adjunct professor in the orthodontics department at the University of The Pacific in San Francisco, is one of 12 certified Damon instructors who have taught and lectured extensively on passive self-ligation with the Damon System. He has lectured nationally and internationally on subjects including functional jaw orthopedics, indirect bonding and practice management from a team approach. Dischinger has been published in Orthodontic Products, Orthotown and Ormco’s Clinical Impressions and is involved in national study clubs that address the latest treatment techniques. He is also a member of the American Association of Orthodontists, the Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists, the American Dental Association and orthodontic professional associations that enable him to participate in continual education and remain current on advances in orthodontic treatment.
 

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