How Emerging Technologies Are Transforming Dentistry
It is evident that we live in a tech era. Technology is advancing with each passing day and things that seemed impossible decades ago are now the order of the day. Looking back, we are having things that we could only imagine of or better still, seen them in the movies or read in the novels.
The healthcare industry has been a big beneficiary of the technological advances of recent years, including the widespread use of EMR systems in healthcare practices. The dentist’s office has also embraced new technologies that are transforming those dreaded visits into pleasant experiences that patients can look forward to.
Although it may be a bit behind in technological advancement, dentistry has experienced some technological growth. Procedures that took both time and a lot of resources to complete are now being done by clicking a few buttons. Below we look at some of the procedures that have experienced tremendous technological growth;
When one suffered a broken or a cracked tooth, the dentist had to replace or cover it with a cap that was custom-fitted. The crown was made from mold that was modelled to take the shape of the damaged tooth. Such was the tedious process that the patient had to wait up to 2 weeks for the whole process to be completed. However, in the digital dentistry era, replacing a broken tooth takes less than 3 hours.
Through the use of CAD and CAM technologies, the dentist takes a 3D image of the tooth, feeds it to the computer and then the computer suggests the dimensions of the crown. From there the dentist makes a few adjustments and sends the information to a machine that carves the crown and just like that the process is complete.
How long does the procedure take? Dr. Bajars, a San Diego dentist says the time varies from one dentist to another.
“On average, it takes from 45 minutes to about an hour,” he says. “The procedure would involve getting you adequately numbed. Prepping and taking a mold of the tooth. Then the dentist will make you a temporary crown. The following appointment to cement the final crown should only take about 15 minutes, provided the crown seats correctly.”
All the same, for patients with other dental problems like infection in the root canal, it is advisable to not be too quick to go for crowning.
“I would recommend seeing a specialist/endodontist for a second opinion/re-evaluation,” says Dr. Rachana Vora, a dentist from Arlington. “We generally recommend 3D cone beam CT imaging to diagnose conditions like these.”
Cone-Beam CT Imaging
In the past, placing an implant involved a lot of guess work. However, with the cone-beam computed tomography (CT) imaging, the process is precise. Through it, the dentist can have a 3D image of the patient’s teeth, jaws, gums and even nerves. To top it up, other diseases that traditionally were hard to detect using technologies like X-rays can now be imaged through cone-beam CT imaging.
“Conventional X-rays do not provide full diagnostic imaging necessary in some circumstances. A cone beam CT scan is the best way to evaluate (the situation),” says Dr. H. Ryan Kazemi from Bethesda Oral.
By going digital, the dentist can record and store a patient’s information in a digital file making it easier to track a patient’s history. In case there is a damage to a patient’s denture, the dentist can duplicate it easily. Digital dentistry also means less pain and trauma for the patients. Take for example, the special lasers. Through them, it is easy to detect cavities and treat them accordingly meaning there is no need for drills, sutures or even scalpels. A visit to the dentist does not have to be scary all thanks to dentistry going digital.