Like almost every aspect of life, dentistry has well and truly gone digital. This has optimised the field and opened up a vast array of benefits for both dentists and patients. So, exactly how is digital dentistry changing the field and what are the advantages?
Let’s take a look.
Digital x-rays are a massive advantage for dentists. They carry a lot of benefits.
Lower X-ray Dose for Better Images
Capturing quality images with significantly lower doses of radiation and better, clearer images due to computer manipulation of the X-ray image, and lower retake rates.
The ability to look at images immediately after exposure so treatments can go ahead quicker.
Easy Storage and Retrieval
Images can be stored electronically meaning they can be shared with other health providers and easily retrieved and not lost.
Better for the Environment
Traditional x-rays rely on chemicals in the development and fixing process. Digital x-rays don’t, making it a far more environmentally friendly option.
They also offer far clearer images, meaning dentists can see precisely what is happening inside your mouth. This is essential in establishing a correct diagnose and visualising hidden problems that allows us to prevent all these problems from getting worse or spreading.
The advent of intra-oral cameras that can literally go inside your mouth has been a huge advantage. Intra-oral cameras allow patients to see what the dentist sees in their mouth. Information is power and you the patient having this information massively helps you with the ability to take control of your dental health. This information also helps to relax patients as they can see exactly what the dentist needs to do. Pictures paint a 1000 words. So, with these intra-oral images, a dentist can explain a patient’s problems, while the patient has a first-hand view. This way, the patient can understand the importance of any subsequent treatment or behavioural changes, and be motivated to take action.
Getting patients to take control of their dental health is a key priority for holistic dentistry. If a dentist can show the effects of decay and gum disease, a patient will definitely remember to brush, floss and cut down on the sugar. A patient will also be motivated to return for 6 monthly active maintenance professional cleaning appointments.
So, digital dentistry has made one of the hardest jobs for dentists easier – the job of fully informing their patients of the diseases in their mouths. This, in turn, helps motivate patients to focus on their home care – brushing, flossing and mouthwash every single day.
Apps for Dentists
There’s an app for everything, including dentistry. There are apps that do everything from creating treatment plans based on photos of patient’s mouths to allowing dentists to create porcelain veneer designs and digitally mock up your perfect smile.
All the dentist has to do is take some photos of the patient’s mouth, send off the dimensions to the lab, get the moulds created and make the provisionals or temporary restorations. These provisionals are more often than not perfect, reducing the need for trimming and shaping in the dental chair. This saves the dentist time and means the patient can get their new mouth in fewer sessions.
Digital Smile Design
Digital smile design is a huge step forward in cosmetic dentistry. With digital smile design, patients can see exactly how their smiles will look following a procedure. Just take a photo, make some adjustments and show the effects of whitening, veneers, implants and even orthodontic procedures.
Guiding The Future of Dentistry
Digital scanners give dentists access the benefits of 3D technology. This imagery will allow for less invasive surgeries and make those interventions far more precise. It will also cut treatment times down significantly. For example, implant crown procedures can be completed in just one session!
3D printing will especially have a say in the future of dentistry. This technology allows 3D structures, like implants, crowns and dentures to be printed from digital files. That means they can be fabricated more easily and more economically because the process is less labour intensive. 3D milling will be far more precise and predictable.
These savings will be passed on to patients making cosmetic procedures more accessible.
The creation of clear braces and mouthguards, nightguards and TMD splints will also be aided by 3D printing. It has even been posited that this technology could help in creating antibacterial dental materials. A team at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands have already printed a 3D tooth that destroys bacteria and plaque, meaning it is self-cleaning.
Digital dentistry makes everything more efficient and precise. It reduces errors associated with human faults and gives dentists something they’ve always wanted and needed – a clear picture to work off.
It also suits the holistic dentists because it allows for less invasive techniques, and clearer visualisation of the final result for the dentist and patient. Digital dentistry can allow earlier diagnosis of dental disease allowing less drilling to find problems, allowing the dentist to locate them before you even get the drill out.
If you would like more information or to book an appointment, please contact us.