How We Use Orthodontic Technology to Create Healthy Smiles

At our Richmond, VA orthodontics offices, you’ll find some of the most cutting-edge orthodontic technology available. Dr. Graham Gardner and our team invest in proven advances in order to create better smiles. If something is safe, effective and can help our patients get outstanding results in less time and with less discomfort, you better believe we’re on it! So what is this orthodontic technology we use? We’re taking a moment to introduce you to some of our favorite tools and treatments:

iTero® Element 5D Imaging System

Years ago, and sometimes still today depending on the office, patients had to bite into a goopy, messy mold and hold it in their mouth, while trying not to gag in order for the doctor to create dental impressions. The doctor then used these impressions to plan the patient’s treatment and have orthodontic appliances made. Not anymore! 

At Gardner Orthodontics, we use the iTero Element scanner to take quick, comfortable digital dental impressions. A team member glides the handheld, digital scanning wand over the teeth and gums and it captures continuous images in motion. The scans are uploaded to special computer software and a 3D model of your mouth is created. The whole process is fast, doesn’t involve radiation and you can breathe normally throughout. 

Dr. Gardner or Dr. Tang uses the 3D model of your teeth to create a treatment plan and design custom appliances, including Invisalign® aligners and retainers. Since we have the latest version of iTero, the Element 5D Imaging System, it contains Near-Infrared Imaging (NIRI) technology too. This lets us identify cavities, including those between the teeth and above the gum line, in their earliest stages without radiation. 

Computerized Treatment Planning and Software  

Another amazing orthodontic technology that has revolutionized how we create smiles is computerized treatment planning. Our Richmond orthodontists use the latest software to map out treatments. After they take digital impressions of your teeth, they move each individual tooth into its ideal position on a 3D model of your smile. They can see different outcomes and use a tool called In-Face Visualization to design a smile that perfectly complements your lips and face for a grin that’s uniquely you. It doesn’t get much more custom than that. 

Since tooth movements are pre-planned and our orthodontists can troubleshoot in advance, we won’t need to make tweaks to your treatment plan once your treatment is underway and your teeth will take a more direct path to their final destinations. This means treatments are more efficient, effective and faster.

Another of our awesome software tools is Meshmixer. It fits diagnostic records together like puzzle pieces to create wax-ups to show patients the final results with orthodontics and restorative treatment. It’s also a way to create the most detailed blueprint of a treatment plan. 

Smile Simulations

With our digital scanning capabilities and software, such as the iTero Invisalign Outcome Simulator, we can create smile simulations for our patients. You’ll be able to see what your new smile will look like when you finish braces or Invisalign, as well as during different stages of the process, before you ever start a day of treatment. Not only is seeing the outcome motivating, we can make sure you’re thrilled with your treatment plan and will love your results. 

Self-Ligating Braces

We offer a variety of different types of braces, including metal and clear self-ligating braces. Self-ligating braces are a newer innovation than conventional braces and have a number of benefits. 

Self-ligating braces don’t use ligatures (metal ties or elastics) to secure the archwires in the brackets. Instead, they have a slide mechanism that allows the archwires to move freely. This creates less friction and discomfort and fewer adjustments are required.

Self-ligating brackets are also smaller and more streamlined, so they’re less noticeable. With a smooth design and lack of elastics, they’re easier to keep clean, because they don’t accumulate as much plaque and they’re less likely to cause irritation.


Invisalign has been around for a while now but it has experienced upgrades in materials and treatment planning capabilities over the years. In experienced hands, it’s really a game changer. At Gardner Orthodontics, we’re a Diamond Plus Invisalign provider, which means we’re not just a leading Richmond Invisalign provider, we’re among the top 1% of providers in the world. Dr. Gardner is known for being an Invisalign expert and as one of the few Invisalign faculty members in the country, he actually lectures on the treatment nationally and internationally.

The Invisalign system involves custom clear aligners that are designed using digital treatment planning. The Invisalign lab receives a prescription from Dr. Gardner or Dr. Tang and uses variations of orthodontic technology to translate the doctor’s instructions into a series of 3D-printed aligners. 

Each set of Invisalign aligners is designed to achieve certain tooth movements, so as you make your way through the series, your smile takes shape little by little. There are no brackets and wires to get in your way, which means no irritation and zero food restrictions. Invisalign aligners are removable for maximum convenience and, most importantly, they’re virtually invisible.

Aside from the aligners themselves, major advancements in clear aligner treatment include tooth-colored attachments and Invisalign rubber bands. Attachments are bonded to certain teeth and give your Invisalign aligners extra grip and leverage. Because they’re tooth-colored, they blend in with your smile. With the attachments, we can use Invisalign rubber bands, or elastics. Invisalign rubber bands are small, discreet and, yes, clear and allow us to correct bite issues, such as an overbite, underbite or open bite. 

Thanks to these updates and our experience at Gardner Orthodontics, more patients than ever can get amazing results with Invisalign treatment, including those with complex cases. 

i-CAT™ Imaging System

The i-CAT imaging system allows us to take digital, 3D x-rays. The x-ray machine captures radiographs quickly and comfortably, while emitting the least amount of radiation possible. With 3D x-rays, we can see every aspect of your dental and facial anatomy from your tooth roots to your nerve pathways. This lets us plan your treatment from every angle in the safest, most efficient way possible. 

Virtual Appointments Using Apps

Whether you’re busy, you moved during your treatment, you’re heading off to college or you’re self-isolating, you can still continue to get the results you want with our virtual appointments. WIth a virtual appointment, you capture images of your teeth and submit them via an app. The app allows Dr. Gardner or Dr. Tang to assess your progress and determine if the desired tooth movements have occurred. They’ll send you a message letting you know if your treatment is on track and what your next steps are. 

These virtual appointments give your doctor more control over your treatment plan for better results. It also lets them pinpoint the ideal time for you to come to the office for a visit, eliminating unnecessary in-person appointments to save you time. 

These are just some examples of the state-of-the-art orthodontic technology we use at Gardner Orthodontics. Our goal is to make getting your dream smile work for your lifestyle and needs, while, of course, ensuring outstanding outcomes. If you’re interested in advanced braces or Invisalign in Richmond, Virginia, schedule a complimentary in-person or virtual consultation for yourself or your child today! 

Gardner & La Rochelle Orthodontics in Richmond, VA