While medical wonders like turning smartphones into diagnostic tools and wearable tracking devices let you monitor your health constantly, technology is revolutionising the dentist’s office too. There are already plans to create implants to prevent dental cavities or provide patients with the ability to regenerate the outer layer of teeth, and technology is set to completely change the face of dentistry in the next coming years. Let’s look at six ways technology is transforming the dental industry as we know it that are already in use today.
While 3D printing is most popularly associated with spectacular works of art or quickly created custom prosthetics for children, it is also revolutionizing dentistry. For example, Invisalign brand invisible braces are 3D printed. They are popular because they are a more comfortable alternative to the heavy metal braces that were the industry standard. Many dental clinics, such as Perfect Smile, specialise in the procedure and they are slowly becoming the new norm in corrective dentistry.
Nowadays, your dentist can inform you of a cavity on your back molar or the need for a crown, or he can break out an intraoral camera and show you. Intraoral cameras are digital cameras mounted on a tool that can be used to take detailed pictures or even provide live streaming images from inside the patient’s mouth. As a side benefit, the images from the camera can be added to dental records and dental insurance claims to clearly show how bad the problem was.
Diagnodent is a device used to detect cavities that standard X-rays cannot detect like those in pit and fissure areas. It will detect cavities that are growing beneath a seemingly intact outer tooth surface. As a bonus, this laser based diagnostic tool doesn’t expose you to X-rays, making it safe for pregnant women. When it detects the start of the breakdown of enamel, the dentist can offer prescription toothpaste or mouthwash to prevent further tooth decay.
Many people are choosing to have dental implants put in place instead of using partial or full dentures. A denture implant is a fake tooth that is as strong as a tooth screwed into an anchor attached to the jaw bone. The benefits of dental implants include preventing the remaining teeth from shifting because a permanent replacement is put into place, a natural appearance, easier eating and normal speech. Dentures, in contrast, need constant maintenance and may slip, affecting speech, self esteem and your comfort.
Laser dentistry is increasingly used to fill cavities in place of the traditional drill. The same laser, at a different setting, can also whiten teeth and zap tumours. Unlike surgical procedures, laser naturally kills bacteria in area it’s working in and can be used to kill bacteria inflaming the gums, too.
Digital X-rays use less radiation than conventional X-rays, and they are generated much more quickly, as well. They give dentists highly detailed digital images to evaluate and can be shared as necessary.
Technological advancements such as IV sedation is making dental care more comfortable for the patients who need it most. Digital X-rays reduce the radiation exposure and time required to generate an X-ray, while the VELscope, Diagnodent and intraoral cameras are new diagnostic tools to complement X-rays and treat a number of dental problems. Laser dentistry hasn’t yet supplanted the drill, but it is reducing the need for dental surgeries. Dental implants are a new alternative to dentures, while 3D printed braces are a popular alternative to metal braces.