Six Dental Technologies For 2017
Modern dentistry is dynamic. Changes to improve patient comfort and quality of care are always being developed. The use of improved dental materials, modern delivery systems, lasers, computer-generated imaging and computer management software systems are just some of the changes.
Q: I have been going to the dentist since I was a child. I’m amazed at the changes in dentistry, the dental office and equipment. What are the most important recent changes in dental technology?
A: I have been along for the high-technology changes in dentistry myself. I started going to the dentist as a child in the 1950s and I am still a dental patient. These are my must-have technologies for the modern dental office in 2017.
1. Digital X-rays: Dentists are using computers to generate digital dental radiographs, pictures taken with an X-ray. Dentists use radiographs to view inside and around teeth, evaluating conditions that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Digital refers to a method of replacing film with a computer image. Re-useable electronic sensors and computer technology is used to capture, store, and then display the picture on a monitor.
2. Digital charting: Computers networked through the building have interconnected the business office and all treatment areas. Paperless dental offices will continue to increase in number and are sure to lead the way to increased and improved patient services and better patient care.
3. LANAP and other lasers: Dentists use hard- and soft-tissue lasers to precisely and effectively treat gum disease, utilize alternative methods of oral surgery, and remove tooth decay and restorations. Numerous dental procedures from surgical to cosmetic are performed using lasers. Laser devices are also used to harden white bonded fillings, as a heat source for whitening teeth and to detect cavities.
4. Loupe magnification and LED lighting: Dentists need to work in a dark area (your mouth). Lighting is essential for treatment in the oral cavity. LED dental lights produce more neutral white light, use about one-fifth of the power consumption of halogen light bulbs, do not produce radiant heat and will last up to 30,000 hours. LED overhead lights are mounted on the ceiling or chair. Rechargeable mini LED head lamps are also attached to glasses or loupes to increase illumination of the magnified treatment area.
5. Intra-oral cameras: Dentists now use intra-oral cameras to capture photographs of the mouth. These pictures can be captured and shown on a monitor, allowing blown-up views for diagnosis. Connecting these cameras to computers with video capture cards, we get clearer pictures for viewing; the videos can be labeled and stored in the patient’s permanent electronic record without any image degradation. These images can be emailed to other practitioners and insurance companies or printed on high-quality photographic paper.
6. Dual Monitoring: Additional monitors for the patient to view. Patients can view photos and X-rays of their mouths, which helps explain conditions and understand treatment options. Multimedia patient education for computers allows the patient to view animated multimedia presentations on diagnosis, procedures and alternatives. This helps improve patient-dental staff communications.
Q: Why doesn’t every dentist use these technologies?
A: As with all new, high-technology techniques and equipment, not all dentists were exposed to the what, why and how during their professional training. There is a high cost for computers in all treatment areas, practice management and imaging software, software support agreements, new X-ray and digital radiation equipment.
There is always something newly developed, more cutting-edge technology to add to the dental practice.