The new Easy IOTN app could help involve both patient and parent in orthodontic treatment at an early stage, Michael Watson says.
Last week saw me on a trip to Brighton to visit the British Orthodontic Society (BOS), which was holding its annual conference there.
The occasion was the unveiling of the first IOTN app, which BOS claims will ‘transform orthodontic referrals’.
The Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need (IOTN) remains a mystery to many who do not practise orthodontics, but is vital for knowing when to refer and whether the treatment can be done under the NHS or privately.
As BOS explained: ‘Traditionally, IOTN is recognised as potentially complex, which has led to it being applied incorrectly’.
There is increased emphasis on reducing referrals for those patients who do not qualify for NHS treatment, so ‘the timing of this product launch is ideal’.
The new app is named Easy IOTN and can be downloaded now for free through the Apple app store, something I did while I was down there, so had the opportunity of applying my rusty knowledge of orthodontics to it.
On opening the Easy IOTN, you are given two choices – IOTN scoring and CPD training.
The latter provides you with an hour’s verifiable CPD.
Choosing the IOTN scoring option, I could then enter options for missing teeth, overjet, crossbite, displacement and overbite, to give you an oral health score.
To assess the aesthetic component of the IOTN, you take a picture of your patient with your iPhone, which will be deleted at the end of the exercise, you can then compare the image with stock pictures of the various grades of appearance and decide which is most alike.
With all the information entered you are given a final score and advice on whether the case may be eligible for NHS treatment.
The aim of Easy IOTN is to ‘simplify and streamline the scoring process’, which it appears to do well, although of course I am no longer a clinician.
The BOS hopes that it is a resource for the whole dental team, ‘which we hope will ensure that patients are on the correct clinical pathway.’
One valuable knock-on effect, it seems to me, is that a dentist can begin to involve both patient and parent in their treatment at an early stage, even before they have seen an orthodontist.
It may also help to explain why orthodontic treatment is either not necessary or cannot be provided under the NHS.