Patient compliance with orthodontic removable retainers: A pilot study
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The retention phase of orthodontic treatment remains to be one of the most important but most poorly monitored stages of treatment. Although cooperative orthodontic removable retainer wear relies on patient compliance, actual retainer wear times may be improved with the usage of a microsensor that promotes active involvement from the patient. Recently, the innovation of Smart(TM) microsensors by Scientific Compliance may allow orthodontists to monitor actual retainer wear time, and prescribe data-driven recommendations to their patients. The objective of this study was to compare retainer wear of 22 patients, with one group aware of the Smart(TM) microsensor, and the other group unaware. The sample in this pilot study consisted of twenty-two (22) patients (13 females and 9 males) treated and debonded at the Orthodontic clinic at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The patients were divided to Group A (5 females and 4 males) and Group B (8 females and 5 males). Group A (treatment group) was informed that they would be monitored through the usage of the Smart(TM) microsensor. Group B (control group) was not informed that they had the Smart(TM) microsensor present in their appliances. Both groups had the same retainer with Smart(TM) microsensor, the only difference being that one group was blinded of the microsensor's presence. For the purposes of this study, T0 was the retainer delivery appointment, T1 was the 6 weeks follow-up appointment, and T2 was the 12 weeks follow-up appointment. At T1, group B was informed of all aspects of the study including our capability to monitor their retainer wear. During the first phase of the study (T0 to T1), the average hours per day of use for the aware group was 16.3 (SD=4.39), while in the non-aware group it was 10.6 (SD=5.36). This difference of 5.7 hours per day was statistically significant (t=2.426, p=0.027). Although the non-aware group increased their retainer wear by 0.5 hour per day from T1 to T2, it was not statistically significant. Even though 89% of all subjects reported positive levels of comfort with the Smart(TM) retainer, the microsensor increased the palatal acrylic thickness to about 7-11mm, as supposed to palatal thicknesses of normal retainers, which are around 3mm. Presently, the Smart(TM) microsensor seems to provide a valid way to measure retainer wear time. However, improvements in the functionality and the dimensions of the unit could pave the way to a more promising future, where orthodontic relapse could be kept to a minimum, and the results of orthodontic treatment could be maintained for longer periods of time.