The world of modern dentistry is embracing exciting advances in technology for increased patient comfort, care, and convenience. Here are some ways dentistry is taking oral care into the new millennium.
- Air Abrasion: High-speed delivery of “blasting particles” to a decayed tooth can replace the drill in many cases. The fine stream of air and aluminum oxide provides dentists with a more precise tool for removing decay quickly, without damaging surrounding sections of the tooth. This exciting dental treatment is also a plus for patients because it normally doesn’t require any local anesthesia. While air abrasion may not be suitable for large areas of decay or the removal of silver fillings, it can be used to repair tiny cracks, remove stains, and smooth the tooth surface so that bonding materials adhere to the tooth.
- Intra-oral Cameras: A tiny camera inserted into the patient’s mouth allows the dentist to show the patient the exact nature of the problem. The image is enlarged and sent to a monitor that the patient and doctor view together. When patients can see the specific area in need of treatment, they’re more likely to understand and accept the dentist’s recommendation.
- Lasers: Research continues at a fast pace in laser dentistry. Lasers have been used for years in a limited capacity, but their role in oral surgery is likely to increase.
- Digitized X-rays: Computerized technology will allow a small sensor inside the patient’s mouth to take the X-ray and immediately display it on a computer screen, eliminating film and darkroom processing, and reducing the radiation exposure for the patient.
- Computers: There is a growing recognition of the role that computers can play in dental care. In the future, patient records may be kept on computer disks, including visual images captured on intraoral cameras. A computerized workstation beside the patient’s chair will give the dentist the ability to view the patient’s history from disk. The dentist might also use a voice-recognition system to ask the computer to assist in finding that data, or generate a “before and after” image so the patient can preview the result of dental treatment before it is done.
- CD-ROM: Patient education will be a snap with information stored on CD-ROM. Procedures can be explained to patients in advance and post-operative instructions can be provided for them to take home.
With a new hi-tech face on modern dentistry, patients can look forward to a new face in dentistry and greater comfort with more byte!”
By Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO