5 Technological Advances in Dentistry that are Revolutionizing Diagnostic Practices
Technology is revolutionizing every field known to man, from the way we communicate with each other to how medicine and dentistry is practiced. Telehealth is becoming a forefront phenomena where doctors can remote access to live patient interactions decreasing cost while concurrently increasing accessibility. Dentistry, specifically, is on the precipice of significant change. Some of your dentists maybe earlier adopters of technology and advances, but the future is here. Here are some of the advances you should look for at your next dental visit!
CEREC, also known as Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics, has been revolutionized with the ability to use 3D printing in your dental office. Before CEREC and 3D printers a dentist would have to take a mold of your teeth that needed restoring. Then they would have to send the mold off to a lab where they would fill the mold and construct the crown or bridge.
The problem with the old method is that patients had to visit the dentist many times, usually leaving with a temporary crown until the lab sent back the completed crown/bridge. Now, using various tools dentists can collect computer generated molds of your teeth allowing the fit for the crown or bridge to be much more accurate and the prosthetic can be applied same day limiting the number of visits a patient would have to make.
Before Invisalign, braces were a series of brackets basically cemented onto your teeth which when removed had been shown to leave some damage to the teeth and braces took a long time to straighten your teeth. With Invisalign, computer imaging is used, instead of impressions, to take very detailed photos of your teeth.
From there the dentist can instruct how the teeth should be aligned with the different sets of trays. Then, Invisalign sends the trays back to the dentist and in a few months, you have straighter teeth. If Invisalign follows the current trends in dentistry, it’s likely that we will see 3D printing used to improve the turnaround on the making of the trays so that patients don’t have to wait so long to be treated.
The SoproLife camera is by far one of the best technological advancements made in dentistry. This powerful camera emits a fluorescent light that allows you to not only identify problem areas easier through your own sight, but with computer imaging, turns cavities and caries a different color.
The importance of this is that sometimes dentists are unable to tell the severity of a cavity due to plaque buildup, so the light and computer imaging work together to highlight the areas of severe cavities with different colors, providing a more accurate treatment plan for the patient. Which means less pain because dentists can treat potential problem areas before they become more severe. Also, the SoproLife allows dentists to see the most minuscule layers of plaque giving the dentist the ability to clean the cavity more thoroughly before applying a filling; which ultimately makes the fillings last longer which means less trips to the dentist.
Digital X-Rays are an important advancement in dental imaging. Not only are the films for intraoral Digital X-Rays more comfortable for the patient, Digital reduces the amount of radiation applied to the crania by 70%. Also, Digital imaging gives you the ability to process the X-Rays immediately and store them on a computer for sharing with other dentists or orthodontists if need be.
Digital X-Ray imaging also provides a wider range of grey tones at larger image sizes. Which means that dentists can more easily identify problem areas through the gradation compared to the only 15-16 different tones of grey that come from traditional X-Rays.
Many dentists still use the traditional X-Rays because many technicians aren’t trained in how to properly use the digital X-Ray machines. However, due to the many technological advancements in dentistry, we can expect to see more training readily available to technicians in the future.
CT Scan Imaging:
Cone-Beam CT Scanning is a revolutionary imaging process that allows Dentists to see a 3D view of your teeth, jaw, and nerve passages. Possibly the most impressive use for CT Scan Imaging is the ability to diagnose diseases and potential need for surgery before the problem exists for the patient.
For example, traditional x-ray imaging would not be able to diagnose an anatomical problem such as TMJ (lockjaw) due to the superimposition of different structures in the jaw. With CT, you can clearly identify TMJ anatomy without distortion or superimposition.
While this is only one of the many examples of CT Imaging and its benefits, CT is very rapidly replacing it’s imaging predecessors and has become the choice for pre-surgical and preimplantation imaging. Also, a benefit for patients’ is the fact that the more accurate imaging would mean less trips to the dentist and a speedier recovery.