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Orthodontic Insights on Moving from Analog to Digital Dentistry



In this episode of The Best Practices Show, host Kirk and co-host Kevin sit down with Dr. Drew Ferris. Drew is an orthodontist who specializes in Invisalign. Initially, Drew, who will be a keynote speaker, describes the Seattle Study Club Symposium. The Seattle Study Club is one of the best resources for learning about dentistry. Drew has a chapter in Santa Barbra where they meet about nine times a year and bring in speakers to educate the providers, and therefore better the dental care their community receives.

Drew goes on to talk about the importance of transitioning from analog to digital, given the digital culture we live in today. He compares braces to an analog experience and Invisalign to a digital experience. He shares ways that he has gone digital in his practice, including online exams and consultations. Drew also shares that going digital enables his work with other specialists to be more efficient and accurate.

Next, Drew discusses the benefits of aligners over braces. He points out that because people are living longer and keeping their teeth longer, a lot of orthodontic work is being done on adults, and adults almost always prefer aligners. In his opinion, if a case can’t be treated with aligners, it’s because of the provider, not because it’s not possible for it to be treated with aligners. Another massive benefit to aligners is the digital aspect.

Another topic they discuss is the fact that while there is only one diagnosis, there are multiple treatment plans. Drew shares that for him personally, he tries to learn about different specialties so that he can treatment plan more effectively.

Moving forward, Drew explains what he is excited about in the future of orthodontics. One thing he appreciates is the amount of exposure there currently is to orthodontics. Far more people are aware of the importance of orthodontic treatment for functional purposes, not just aesthetic purposes. He values all that is available currently in orthodontics and all that is coming in the future, because of the ability to improve his patients’ quality of life, not just their smile. He also shares how valuable it is to be a part of a group like Seattle Study Group Symposium, in order to be challenged and grow into a better clinician, and to stay informed about new developments within the field.

Main Takeaways 

  • Seattle Study Club is one of the best ways to learn about dentistry (04:43)
  • The best way to future proof your practice is by transitioning to a digital approach (17:38)
  • Aligners are valuable because many adults need orthodontic treatment but are hesitant to receive braces (23:13)
  • Learning more about different specialties helps you treatment plan more effectively (31:37)
  • This is an exciting time to be in dentistry and orthodontics because of what’s here and what’s coming in the future (42:37)

Key Quotes 

“[Seattle Study Club] has evolved into essentially one of the best resources for learning about dentistry.” -Drew

“Everyone expects to have a digital experience at this point.” -Drew

“What’s the best way to future proof the practice from anything that’s going to happen?” -Drew

“I think a lot of times dentists, and doctors in general, we just don’t value our time as much as we should.” -Drew

“We know that patients are living longer, we know that they’re keeping their teeth longer, and we know that there’s going to be more and more of a need for restorative work.” -Drew

“My treatment planning has become better with aligners, because we are using that digital setup.” -Drew

“Just learning the different aspects of different specialties then helps me treatment plan, and then execute my cases, better.” -Drew

“It’s amazing what we can do for a patient’s quality of life that’s more than just a pretty smile.” -Drew

“In my practice, I want to provide the absolute best possible care that you can get anywhere.” -Drew

“I think a key piece to anybody’s development is just being in the right room, being in the right group.” -Kirk

“If you’re looking to just become a better, all around complete, clinician, then check this virtual Symposium out.”  -Drew


04:46-08:53- Introduction of Seattle Study Club and the Symposium

09:42-22:40- Going from analog to digital

22:54-28:37- Braces versus aligners

29:47-31:46- Multiple treatment plans

32:37-40:00- The future of orthodontics

Bio of guest

Dr. Drew Ferris attended the University of Missouri – Kansas City for his DDS degree and completed his Orthodontic Residency at Loma Linda University. After residency, because of his love for the area and beach life, Drew decided to plant himself in Santa Barbara, California and is the only Top 1% Diamond Plus Invisalign Provider in the region. Since becoming the sole owner of his practices in 2016 and consolidating from a two-doctor practice into a one doctor practice, his practices has grown by 32%.

Dr. Ferris is a world-renowned orthodontist with a passion for not only helping his patients achieve beautiful smiles with optimal clinical outcomes but also a passion for teaching others in the industry how to most efficiently and effectively achieve such results for improved practice prosperity. He is a published author and has spoken on some of the biggest dental stages in the world.

Dr. Ferris has distinguished himself in the innovative use of both clear aligners and fixed appliances in treatment of complex cases of the growing patient and in interdisciplinary pre-restorative orthodontics. He is a published author and has lectured nationally and internationally on a variety of orthodontic topics, including digital design, diagnosis, treatment and practice management.

Drew attended the University of Missouri – Kansas City for his DDS degree and completed his Orthodontic Residency at Loma Linda University. He has two practices in Santa Barbara, California and is the only Top 1% Diamond Plus Invisalign Provider in the region. Since becoming the sole owner of his practices in 2016, and consolidating from a 2 doctor practice into a 1 doctor practice, his practices has grown by 32%.

In addition to the practices and frequent lecturing, Dr. Ferris has been chosen as clinical instructor and faculty member for Align Technology every year since 2014 – a position held only by 28 orthodontists in North America.

In 2019, he was awarded the honor of Align Master Faculty Member – a position held by only 7 orthodontists in the world. He is an adjunct faculty member at Loma Linda School of Dentristy, and he is also director of Santa Barbara Dental Study Group, where he serves as an advisor on orthodontic diagnosis and treatment technique. The group is active in treatment planning for interdisciplinary restorative patients.



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