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Critical Review
7 (
2
); 73-79
doi:
10.4103/2321-1407.202608
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The World of Orthodontic apps.

Department of Orthodontics, M.A. Rangoonwala College of Dental Sciences, Pune, Maharashtra, India
Department of Orthodontics, European University Dental College, DHCC, Dubai, UAE
Address for Correspondence: Dr. Gaurav Gupta, Department of Orthodontics, M.A. Rangoonwala College of Dental Sciences, Pune, Maharashtra, India. E-mail: drgauravg@gmail.com
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How to cite this article: Gupta G, Vaid NR. The World of Orthodontic apps. APOS Trends Orthod 2017;7:73-9.

Abstract

The usage of the portable electronic devices such as the smartphones and handheld tablets has increased over the years, and this is true in the health-care industry also. This is because of the development of various patient management softwares. The use of apps to manage, educate, and inform patient is not uncommon among orthodontists nowadays. The aim of this article was to review the various apps available on the Google Play Store and iOS Apple Store for orthodontists and patients. Four smartphones using orthodontically relevant keywords such as orthodontics, orthodontists, and braces were searched and reviewed in detail. Out of the 354 orthodontically relevant apps available in both Android and Apple operating systems, the apps could be categorized as orthodontist-related apps or patient-related apps. Under these categories they could be further classified as practice managements apps, patient education apps, model analysis apps, tooth material calculators, patient reminder apps, etc.

Keywords

Orthodontic apps
orthodontics
smartphones
technology

INTRODUCTION

Usage of mobile apps has become increasingly prevalent across mobile phone users. A May 2012 comScore study reported that during the previous quarter, more mobile subscribers used apps than browsed the web on their devices: 51.1% vs. 49.8%, respectively. Researchers found that the usage of mobile apps strongly correlates with user context and depends on user’s location and time of the day. Mobile apps are playing an ever-increasing role within healthcare and when designed and integrated correctly can yield many benefits. Market research firm Gartner predicted that 102 billion apps would be downloaded in 2017 (91% of them free), which would generate $26 billion in the US, up 44.4% on 2012’s US $18 billion. By Q2 2015, the Google Play and Apple stores alone generated $5 billion. An analyst report estimates that the app economy creates revenues of more than €10 billion per year within the European Union while over 529,000 jobs have been created in 28 EU states due to the growth of the app market. The term “app” is a shortening of the term “application software.” It has become very popular, and in 2010 was listed as “Word of the Year” by the American Dialect Society. In 2009, technology columnist David Pogue said that newer smartphones could be nicknamed “app phones” to distinguish them from earlier less-sophisticated smartphones. Mobile apps were originally offered for general productivity and information retrieval, including email, calendar, contacts, stock market, and weather information. However, public demand and the availability of developer tools drove rapid expansion into other categories, such as those handled by desktop application software packages. Many dental/orthodontic offices are starting to take advantage of the many mobile “apps” that make managing a dental practice easier. The ability to download custom-built software applications (apps) has created new opportunities for orthodontists to integrate technology into clinical practice and patients to collect the information about orthodontics and help them during their treatment. With the increasing use of smartphones and handheld technology, the use of apps in various arenas of orthodontic practice management seems invariable. As of today,[1] a total of 350 plus apps on orthodontics exist across both the iOS and Android platforms. The range of applications is as varied as practice management, peer-reviewed journals, diagnostic apps, orthodontic education, patient reminder apps, progress trackers, model analysis apps, public awareness information, fun with braces, etc. This article describes a preliminary update on the apps that are available to the orthodontist on various software platforms and for different uses.[1,2]

RESULTS

The results of searches on the smartphones were analyzed in detail and clubbed under the headings of:

  1. Apps for orthodontists [Figure 2]

    Figure 2: Apps for orthodontists

  2. Apps for patients/laypersons [Figure 3].

    Figure 3: Apps for patients

In the category of apps for orthodontists [Table 1], we found a total of 144 apps in iOS and 150 apps in Android platforms, out of the 354 apps in both platforms, apps were further classified under apps for orthodontists [Table 2] such as practice management, publications, orthodontic products, apps aiding in diagnosis, orthodontic conferences, and tooth ratio calculators. Under the category of patient apps [Table 3], it was found that these apps could also be grouped as apps for orthodontic education, reminders for wearing elastics, reminders for wearing aligners, dealing with orthodontic emergencies, and progress tracker.[3,4]

Table 1: Orthodontic apps on the android and iOS platforms for smartphones
Operating system Category Number
iOS Clinicians app  
  Clinic apps/practice management 89
  Publications/journals/magazines 27
  Orthodontic products 10
  Apps aiding in diagnosis 8
  Orthodontic conferences 6
  Tooth ratio calculators 2
  Orthodontic news 2
Patient apps  
  Orthodontic education 26
  Reminding patients about elastic wear 3
  Reminding patients about aligner wear 2
  Dealing with orthodontic emergencies 2
Progress tracker 2
Total 179
Android Clinicians app  
  Clinic apps/practice management 95
  Publications/journals/magazines 15
  Orthodontic products 7
  Apps aiding in diagnosis 10
  Orthodontic conferences 14
  Tooth ratio calculators 5
  Orthodontic news 2
Patient apps  
  Orthodontic education 18
  Reminding patients about elastic wear 2
  Reminding patients about aligner wear 2
  Dealing with orthodontic emergencies 1
  Progress tracker 4
Total 175
Total in both operating system 354
Table 2: Apps for orthodontist
Operating system Category Number
iOS Orthodontist app  
  Clinic apps/practice management 89
  Publications/journals/magazines 27
  Orthodontic products 10
  Apps aiding in diagnosis 8
  Orthodontic conferences 6
  Tooth ratio calculators 2
  Orthodontic news 2
Android Orthodontist app  
  Clinic apps/practice management 95
  Publications/journals/magazines 15
  Orthodontic products 7
  Apps aiding in diagnosis 10
  Orthodontic conferences 14
  Tooth ratio calculators 5
  Orthodontic news 2
Table 3: Apps for patients
Operating system Category Number
iOS Patient apps  
  Orthodontic education 26
  Reminding patients about elastic wear 3
  Reminding patients about aligner wear 2
  Dealing with orthodontic emergencies 2
  Progress tracker 2
Total 35
Android Patient apps  
  Orthodontic education 18
  Reminding patients about elastic wear 2
  Reminding patients about aligner wear 2
  Dealing with orthodontic emergencies 1
  Progress tracker 4
Total 27

Apps for orthodontists

The apps for orthodontists predominantly consist of practice management apps such as the orthodontist clinic app which mainly speaks about the practice/clinic, and it was like a mini website which consisted of info about the practice and clinic in brief [Figure 4].

Figure 4: The orthodontist clinic

It also included apps of the various orthodontic associations to enhance the membership and provide information about various activities such as online lectures and member directory to its existing members, for example, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAOs) app [Figure 5]. The AAO Mobile App provides easy access to members of the AAO for high-demand AAO resources including: Registration and information for the AAO Annual Session, Winter Conference, Practice Management Materials, Forms and Releases, Patient Education Materials, Videos, Marketing Materials, Continuing Education, Online Lectures, At-a-Glance Continuing Dental Training Codes, Dental Benefits Advisory Service Hotline, AAO Insurance, Member Directory, Career Management Resources, Office Design Manual and AAO Communities.

Figure 5: The American Association of Orthodontist mobile

The other category of apps which could be helpful to clinicians was the journal apps which includes archives of issues as well as notifies about the latest issue, thereby keeping the orthodontist up to date with the latest on his/her smartphones on the go for, example, AJODO app [Figure 6]. The AJODO app brings with it the convenience of reading your favorite journal from anywhere in the world with just a tap. It is available for Android smartphones and tablets! With the AJODO app, it offers alerts when new issues are available. The app is informative, interactive, and offers high-quality multimedia viewing.

Figure 6: AJODO

Another interesting category of apps in this group is the orthodontic products apps which could be an individual company app like the app of an orthodontic company itself like the AO Roudcare, is the easiest way to order American orthodontics products online with DHL shipping service [Figure 7] or it could be app like orthodontic products [Figure 8] which actually gives a review of orthodontic products both old and new in detail and also offers good deals on orthodontic products listed on their app.

Figure 7: AO Roudcare
Figure 8: Orthodontic products

Apps such as Virtual Orthodontist and iModel analysis 2 help in diagnosis and planning of the treatment of the patient as it gives realistic information to the patient about the various aspects of orthodontic treatment [Figures 9 and 10].

Figure 9: Virtual dentist
Figure 10: iModel Analysis 2

Last but not the least, the category of apps includes the orthodontic community apps, for example, Orthotown [Figure 11]. Orthotown is the leading online community for orthodontist worldwide. Through the Orthotown app one can access the message boards where one can respond to and post new topics as well as check out the active topics and cases of the day.

Figure 11: Orthotown

Apps for patients

Now coming to the apps which deal with patients and in this group, one of the most important categories is the patient education app which actually overlaps with the practice apps because most of the practice apps consist of the patient education also, however, there are exclusive patient education apps like the Braces Booth Pro. This app helps the patients to choose from different braces options and also projects the image of the patient with the different types of braces. One more helpful app in this category is the BraceMate app [Figure 12]. The BraceMate app is a free app which helps in picking the color of modules and/or different types of brackets. It also clues the patient in as to how to deal with orthodontic emergencies. Another major category in this group are the reminder apps, be it a reminder for keeping good oral hygiene while braces wear, reminder for elastic wearing like Smile-tastic [Figure 13] during active orthodontic treatment or a reminder of aligner wear like Align Remind, Ortho tempo [Figures 14 and 15]. Both of the apps offer a prescheduled reminder service that increases compliance resulting in better appliance wear and thereby enhancing the success of orthodontic treatment.

Figure 12: BraceMate
Figure 13: Smile-tastic
Figure 14: Align Remind
Figure 15: Ortho tempo

CURRENT PERSPECTIVES

This is the era of digitization, the orthodontic community is also fast tracking into the digital era. Smartphone usage is rampant and popular. Extending orthodontic practices into smartphone platforms are the need of the hour and also seem to be in vogue. The search was carried out using two smartphones that are in common use today and using operating systems that are available on most phones. The search yielded a total of 354 apps related to orthodontics. Of these 354 apps, 292 were orthodontist-related apps and 62 were patient-related apps. The apps were further analyzed for the information they offered and their utility. After analyzing all the apps, it was concluded that numerous apps are available for the use of both the orthodontist and patient.[5]

Smartphones have made it easier and convenient for both the clinician and patient to access orthodontically relevant information at the click of a button. In future, smartphones will act as mini virtual offices where practice management and patient education can be done with a handheld device.[6]

Apps on smartphones are indispensable orthodontic inventories of the future, or perhaps even the present. Their infusion into orthodontic care will be at various interfaces, and if current trends are any indication, the number of apps available will only exponentially rise!

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

References

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