A recent film crew from Boston, United States, visited Sunderland in order to capture the now largest orthodontic lab in the UK.

With a 12,000 square foot facility and over 50 employees, Ashford Orthodontics is the largest orthodontic laboratory in the United Kingdom.

The lab offers specialist orthodontic technical services to orthodontic and dental professionals and produces a variety of orthodontic appliances from complex, fixed, and functional appliances, to anti-snoring and sleep apnoea appliances and mandibular advancement devices.

Sean Thompson, who founded Ashford in 2001, has always strived to keep the lab at the forefront of the industry, which today is now more important than ever.

Orthodontics is currently in the midst of undergoing its most significant technological evolution to date, from traditional workflows to digital technologies.

Traditionally, clear aligners and retainers are manufactured by thermoforming over stone models that are produced from manual impressions. With the emergence of 3D intraoral scanners in dental practices, these manual impressions are replaced by digital scans.

In many cases, digital workflows can be more expensive, and labs struggle to offer prices that are competitive with traditionally produced appliances. By running a fleet of 12 Form 2 3D printers, however, Ashford has managed to produce clear aligners and retainers cost-effectively at scale.

Sean explains, “We’ve got new clients coming to us every day who have never used us before, so they don’t know if the quality is going to be good or if the customer service is going to be reliable.

“When they realize that what we’re providing here is very good quality, they trust us to send us the more complex appliances. So invariably, within two months of getting a new client who wants to use our services for digital orthodontics, they start asking if we can do twin blocks, fixed appliances, or functionals. Before we know it, they’re sending us lots and lots of work, because we can accommodate all of their needs.

“At the moment, it’s traditional techniques with a little bit of digital, but in a matter of two or three years, it’s going to be digital techniques with a little bit of traditional. And that’s going to be the driving force for our department moving forward.”

The below video gives an insight into Ashford Orthodontics’ work:

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