Constantly evolving technology is improving all parts of our lives, including dentistry, where we are mixing the best of yesterday’s tried and true patient care with exciting new technological advances. In the hands of skilled and experienced dentists, digital tools are truly revolutionizing modern dentistry by making procedures safer, more accurate, and less painful.
Here are a few ways that digital technology is revolutionizing modern dentistry.
CAD/CAM Design and 3-D Printing
Lab-created restorations are among the most frustrating parts of dental treatment for both dentists and patients. Goopy impressions are taken and sent to the lab, and patients must deal with awkward temporary solutions while awaiting the arrival of their final restoration. Thankfully, CAD/CAM design and 3-D printing are changing the game.
Dentists can now create many restorations – from onlays and crowns to full sets of dentures – right in the office. Many times, your final restoration can be placed in a single visit.
Digital Impressions, X-rays, and Photos
Traditional dental impressions are, quite literally, a mess. You probably know the feeling of biting into a tray of goop, trying not to gag or swallow, and then sitting impatiently as the dentist rocks the hardened material back and forth to release it from your mouth. Digital impressions are clean, fast, and far more comfortable.
Digital x-rays use less radiation than film x-rays. They can be magnified and manipulated for a better look at problematic parts of the mouth. With intra-oral cameras, such as the state-of-the-art model we recently acquired, dentists can take ultra high definition digital photos to further highlight targeted areas.
Optical and CT Scanning
If your dentist needs a closer look than x-rays can provide, modern technology provides painless digital scanning solutions. Optical scanners and digital color maps improve the aesthetics of dental restorations by precisely matching them to your natural teeth. Electronic sensors can evaluate your bite. Diagnodent technology can detect emerging cavities before they become visible. Cone beam CT scanning creates a detailed 3-D map of your oral anatomy, vastly improving precision placement of dental implants.
Dental drills are right up there with needles for triggering fear. Dental lasers can replace the drill in many situations. They can also cauterize wounds instantly, reducing bleeding, infection risk, pain, and shorten healing time. They can also stop gum disease, remove soft tissue, expose teeth that are impacted, and prepare teeth for fillings.
Digital Record Keeping and Consultations
Collaboration between the dentist and the patient is easier than ever before. Online scheduling lets patients make, change, and cancel their appointments with a few clicks. Digital records require only a fraction of the storage space of paper charts and films, allowing dentists to better utilize valuable square footage. Dentists are able to consult remotely, in real time, on complex cases thanks to digital records and specialized software.
Websites and social media allow dentists, staff members, and patients to communicate as never before. Anyone with an internet connection can research his condition in detail and ask questions as soon as they come up. Online reviews and dental forums allow patients to share their experiences with each other.