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23 January 2024

Digital Dentistry: How Technology is Revolutionizing Dental Care

Scientific and technological advances have significantly affected everyday life and changed how we approach and solve problems. This is evident in the world of dentistry where faster, better and longer-lasting solutions to many dental issues are now the norm rather than the exception. 

The age of digital dentistry has arrived!

Employing a range of digital and computer-based technologies, the modern dentist can now deliver more accurate diagnoses and fine tune any required treatment to a patient’s specific needs. 

Thanks to these modern developments a dentist’s office is now more than just a place for check-ups, teeth cleaning and the occasional extraction. The introduction of digital equipment now means that most dentists can deliver a one-stop solution to many dental issues. 

These include the production and fitting of dental implants, crowns, veneers and much more. Furthermore, digital screening now also plays an important role in cancer screening and the early detection of possible cancers in the mouth, throat and neck.

Dentistry Transformed

The use of computers and digital technology has transformed dentistry and elevated the dental profession to a new level. The dentist of today now has instant access to a patient’s complete history and can use the information to form a complete picture of dental issues of the past, present and even the future.

It is not just patient history that digital dentistry has had an impact on as newer and better tools for treatment have also been developed. Whether diagnosing or treating a dental problem, there is a modern device that can assist in the procedure.

Among the many new digital aids now commonly available are:

Intra-oral Cameras. These tiny devices are fast replacing the old-style hand-held mirrors used to explore the inside of the mouth. The magnification abilities of these intra-oral cameras allow for detailed examination of the teeth and gums which makes the detection of possible issues much more likely. 

The images captured by the camera can also be shared with the patient or used by dental technicians to provide better color matching for any planned bridges, crowns, dental implants and dentures.

Intra-oral Scanning. Making a mold for dentures, bridges or replacement teeth was once done by placing a putty-like substance in a tray and having the patient bite down on it. The mold was then sent to a dental laboratory where the required dental fitting was cast. 

Today, a dentist can now achieve the same objective by using intra-oral scanning equipment and sending the output to a computer-aided design program. The CAD program uses the supplied 3D scan to output perfectly fitted bridges, veneers, crowns and other dental replacements to a 3D printer or produce the dental prosthesis for milling.

Digital Implant Surgery.Very much a new development is the use of digital technology to identify the most effective method of fitting dental implants into the jawbone once an intra-oral scan has been carried out.

Digital Radiography. X-rays have been the norm in dental practices for decades when an overview of the teeth and jaw structure was required. This was (and is) a time-consuming and expensive method which is being slowly replaced by digital radiography. 

Not only is this much faster to use as the images are available immediately but the resulting files are much easier to store or share with other dental specialists should the need arise. Another bonus of digital radiography is that patients have less exposure to the potentially harmful X-rays used in conventional dental offices.

Although cancer screening is not the primary function of digital dentistry, this has proven to be a valuable tool in the battle against various cancers. Using fluorescence imaging a dentist can detect possible indications of oral and throat cancers that may otherwise be missed or overlooked. 

Early detection means earlier treatment and a far better prognosis for patients who may otherwise have developed more serious forms of cancers and other malignant disorders.

Information Storage and Sharing

In the modern world information is king. Possessing the right information allows for in-depth analysis and prompt action. This is possible due to the arrival of computer and digital advances where information can be securely stored but shared instantly when this becomes necessary.

Because a patient’s dental information is available at the touch of a few buttons, the modern dentist no longer relies on paper files stored in cabinets and outdated information. Patient records can be rapidly updated and quickly accessed for a swifter response.

Not every dental office has moved to digital dentistry, but many will employ at least some of the new technology in their practice. Digital dentistry is advancing rapidly and the older methods of information storage and sharing swiftly being consigned to history. Thanks to modern developments all aspects of dentistry have been streamlined and become more efficient. 

From making a simple appointment to the most complex of dental surgeries, digital dentistry is fast becoming the best, safest and most comfortable way to care for not just the teeth and gums but also to assist in maintaining general good health.

Sources:

  1. https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/dental-visits/the-changing-world-of-digital-dentistry#
  2. https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/oral-and-oropharyngeal-cancer/statistics

 

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