ADVANCES IN DENTISTRY MEAN BETTER RESULTS
New advances in technology, materials and techniques over the past 10 years have led to much better outcomes — and experiences in the dental chair — for patients. And for dentists and oral surgeons, there has never been a more exciting time to be in practice. Some of these dental advances include:
NEW GUM CARE
Over the past few years, gum disease treatment has started to include regenerative procedures. Bone grafts, membranes and proteins can now be used to stimulate tissue growth that can be used to regenerate bone and tissue. This is beneficial in fighting off gum disease.
Dentists used to use a tool called an explorer detect cavities. Today, a laser can now do the job as well. A diode laser is the choice for some dentists when searching for tooth decay and cavities in patients.
Not only have dental implants become more common in the past several years, but they’ve also become more dependable. Dental implants often used to fail, but now they have a much higher success rate — about 95%. The typical dental implant will last over 15 years. The invention of 3-D printers also has revolutionized dentistry. When a patient's natural tooth has to be extracted, it is possible to scanits shape and size and print an exact copy from materials like titanium and zirconia.
MORE EFFECTIVE MATERIALS
Most bonding done now is with resin. Resin is shinier, longer lasting and it’s easier to blend in with a tooth’s natural color.
An intraoral camera can take precise pictures of a patient’s mouth, especially in hard-to-see areas. This allows a dentist to better assess a patient’s oral health.
Air abrasion is used as an alternative to a dental drill for smaller cavities. Air abrasion can treat these cavities through a blast of pellets that consist of aluminum oxide and air without the use of anesthetic.
VENEERS GET THIN
Thanks to new materials, veneers can be thinner without sacrificing strength. When a thinner veneer is added to the front of a tooth surface, less of the tooth surface must be removed. This means that more of the tooth can be kept intact.
NO NEED FOR NEEDLES
Nitrous oxide and oral sedation are being used more often because of their effectiveness in calming patients who are fearful or anxious. The patient remains awake, and there’s no need for needles.
This computer-assisted design and computer-assisted manufacture technology is used to make getting crowns and bridges a simpler process. For a crown procedure, instead of a dentist making a mold of the tooth, this technology can take a picture of a tooth and relay this image to a computer in order to instantly start creating the crown.
Digital X-rays capture dental images and display the image onto a computer screen. Digital X-rays also have the benefit of lessening the exposure of radiation as compared to traditional X-rays.
SEE YOUR SMILE
For major dental work — sometimes called a “smile makeover” — virtual reality helps patients envision themselves with their final restorations. That emotional response, which helps drive the commitment needed for multi-appointment procedures, is something that can happen at the first appointment. With digital photos and virtual mockups, patients can try on different smiles to find one that pleases them.
BETTER AT-HOME CARE
Increased accessibility to connected devices means we can see which teeth we’re brushing using an app on our phones.
This article first appeared online at heartlanddental.com. Heartland Dental is the nation's largest dental support organization providing non-clinical, administrative support services to 1,400 supported dentists across 37 states.