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Robots help straighten smiles

OPEN WIDE: Dr. Michael Goldstein examines David Marcheson, 11, the old-fashioned way at Davis Orthodontics in Woodbridge. The practice is the first in Canada to use robots to produce braces. (Corey Lewis/Vaughan Today)

A German-engineered, robot-built smile available in Woodbridge?

Not exactly, but close.

Dr. Kevin Davis and his team at Davis Orthodontics are the first and only in Canada to offer SureSmile, a high-tech, digital method of producing precision braces.

Davis, who has offices in Vaughan and Richmond Hill, introduced the procedure to Canada in November and, he says, he’s been saving his patients time, and months of discomfort since.

“Average is about two to two-and-a-half years, conventionally,” he said of the old tooth-straightening technique. “With SureSmile, it’s 40 percent less on average, so 15 to 18 months.

“If you’re going to fly from Toronto to Australia, you can fly direct or you can fly with a stopover in Vancouver and then a stopover in Hawaii,” Davis added. “Both will get you there, both planes are flying the same airspeed, but one gets there a lot quicker than the other. This is the direct route to the finish line.”

SureSmile is basically a three-part technology, Davis said. A high-definition video camera captures digital images of a patient’s teeth and transfers them to a computer.

“On the computer I can manipulate the teeth into any different positions in any combinations or order that I want to,” Davis said. “Instead of having to experiment in the patient’s mouth, which is how I have to do it on conventional braces, this is all done virtually on a computer.”

The press of a button later and robots in Dallas jump into action, bending wire to the precise specifications asked for. The finished product is shipped by courier back to Davis.

“It’s actually a pretty cool robot,” he said. “The same people who make BMW cars make the robot. It’s a technological wonder.”

Davis’s patients come from as far as Inuvik, Hong Kong and France, he said, and include some celebrities, though he won’t say who. Doctor-patient privilege, he said.

“They all tell me that they’re happy to have finished quicker,” he said. “They’re surprised at how easy the process is and they’re thrilled that they’re at a place where the technology lets them get through the process quicker, for sure.”

The SureSmile procedure costs $700 more than conventional orthodontic treatment, which is enough to cover his cost, Davis said. He makes no profit, he added.

Davis’s father, Dr. Allan Davis, was the first orthodontist in York Region, Davis said, starting his practice in Richmond Hill in 1969. A second office was opened in Woodbridge in 2005.

With about 35 staff currently employed at both locations, Davis said, southern York Region has been good to the practice. So, the practice gives back when it can, including the gift of a child’s exam room for York Central Hospital’s emergency room.

“One of my staff’s requirements for employment is that they donate two days a year for community involvement, non-paid charity work,” he said. “I’m very thankful for the community helping me and my crew, so we try to say thanks by helping them back.”

Vaughan Today
Online: July 31, 2008 [link]