Engineering Healthy Smiles

Appears in the February 2019 issue.

Back when she was first setting out on the path of higher education, Dr. Manal Ibrahim decided to go in a different direction than her friends who were heading off to medical school. In choosing biomedical engineering to focus on designing prosthetic limbs, Ibrahim was looking to both make a difference in the lives of patients and indulge her creativity. But a chance run-in with an old friend soon got her thinking about dental school—and the rest, as they say, is history.

After her first specialty in prosthodontics (essentially designing prosthetics for the mouth), Ibrahim soon found a home amid the rapidly changing world of her second specialty of orthodontics, leading her to the 2002 orthodontic breakthrough by Align Technology known as Invisalign. Fast-forward a decade and a half, and her Innovative Orthodontic Centers (IOC) practice is one of the top Invisalign providers in the world.

“Invisalign is a great option for patients who might have been avoiding orthodontic treatment because they didn’t want to deal with braces and wires,” Ibrahim says. “The plastic trays are so much more comfortable and convenient.”

Invisalign is but one example of the steadfast use of the very latest technology to assist in the diagnosis, planning, and execution for a variety of treatments at IOC. Because Ibrahim is still just as focused on the twin passions of patient care and technological innovation as she was when she first got into orthodontics.

“In terms of predictability and efficiency and comfort, technology can have a significant impact on creating a great patient experience and outcome,” she says. “A lot of people think that orthodontics is the same as it was in the ’80s, regardless of where you go, but that’s just not true. Technology has truly been a game-changer in this field.”

Photograph by Michael Hudson