Innovations in Dentistry
Thursday, March 3, 2016
Technology has changed nearly every aspect of our lives, and dentistry is no exception to the rule.
Over the past 5, 10, 20 years there have been advances in dental materials and processes and an overall trend towards improved dental practices.
Here are just a few dental innovations.
Electric toothbrushes have become more prevalent and less expensive in recent years, providing a better clean in the same amount of time as manual brushing. In my opinion, there is no debate on manual vs. electric toothbrush. The electric toothbrush wins every time.
You can achieve the same result with a manual brush if you want to spend more time brushing your teeth. But you might as well make use of technology and allow something that’s mechanised to do the job for you. Electric toothbrushes oscillate 2,000 times a minute!
I tell every patient who doesn’t have one, to go and buy one, and be sure to use a soft brush head.
One of the oldest filling materials is dental amalgam. It did a really good job of fixing holes, however it contained mercury and looked black. When people started to get more cosmetically driven, they wanted something that could fill the hole AND look good.
This led to the introduction of composite resin – a white plastic filling material. Whilst this looks better than the old amalgam, it shrinks on setting so fails over time to completely seal the hole.
Now dental ceramics are available and despite being more expensive, they are dimensional stable meaning they do not shrink. They are the best material at filling the hole in the long term, and look cosmetically pleasing.
In the past, gold and porcelain restorations took at least two appointments, as you needed to return to have the lab-made restorations cemented in place. Many people hate coming to the dentist and coming twice is even worse.
New advances in technology mean that CAD-CAM (Computer Aided Design – Computer Aided Manufacturing) porcelain restorations can be made and cemented during the same appointment. These restorations are at least as accurate, if not more so than those made in a dental laboratory.
CAD-CAM technology is not cheap for dentists to invest in, so not every dental practice has the equipment. At Oasis we have not just one of these CAD-CAM systems but two! You can even watch the whole process if you like.
Of all the digital technologies that have emerged in the recent past, the most useful (but under-utilised) is digital photography and radiography (x-rays). Seeing is believing and now as a patient you no longer need to place ‘blind’ faith in the word of your treating clinician. You need to demand that your dentist show you the problem they diagnose and what they propose to do, as well as an after photo (or x-ray) for comparison to ensure that the problem has been fixed.
At Oasis Dental we leave nothing to faith and take detailed pre and post-operative photos and x-rays that we show our patients on the large flat panel screens in every clinical room.
Teeth whitening is now a mainstream offering in the dental market. Previously veneers and/or crowns were the only cosmetic dentistry option available to improve the appearance of teeth.
Now, patients can have bright smiles for minimal cost and through non-invasive procedures. This treatment is not suitable for all people so you will need to be well informed by your dentist if this option is appropriate.
Posted in: Dental health, General, Industry