Whether you’re 20 or 80, your dentist’s office probably looks a lot different from the one you remember from your childhood. That’s because it is different. Dentistry has changed a lot over the years; in fact, it’s one of the most progressive clinical sciences, with remarkable advances that have made modern-day visits shorter and easier, with highly predictable and beneficial results.
To give you an idea of how much our field has changed, let’s take a look at some of the advances we use in our dental office:
Fibre-optic drills. This new generation of drills offers an improved light source so the dentist can see more clearly, and high-speed operation that allows teeth to be treated much faster, with less stress for the patient.
Drill-less dentistry. Air abrasion devices can be used to remove the decay in small cavities – no drill required. Tiny sand-sized particles are used to “sandblast” the unhealthy parts of the tooth. It’s a quick, comfortable procedure that is usually done without anaesthetic.
Digital x-rays. Much better for you than the old-style film x-rays, the newer digital machines reduce your exposure to radiation by a remarkable 65-95%. Plus, digital x-rays are fast. There’s no waiting for film to be processed – the image comes up instantly on a computer screen so the dentist can see any issues immediately. And images can easily be emailed to insurance companies and other dentists for referrals, too. No need to wait for things to be couriered or mailed.
Intra-oral cameras. The most important part of a dental exam is figuring out exactly what is going on inside your mouth. This pen-sized video camera captures detailed images so you can see what the dentist sees (decay, plaque, bleeding gums, fractured teeth, etc.), and get a better understanding of the health of your teeth and gums. Plus, sometimes it can show a dentist potential problems that a visual exam wouldn’t spot. It’s a great way to give you the information you need so you can work with your dentist to determine a treatment that will help you achieve your healthy smile.
Lasers. This is now a widely-used technology that allows us to perform surgery on your gums and teeth, often without the need for needles/anaesthetics. We can use lasers to whiten your teeth and do small fillings. Plus, because this technique allows for faster, more comfortable healing of gum tissue, it’s an ideal choice for gum recontouring.
Computerized crowns. State-of-the-art machinery can now quickly and accurately prepare crowns and large fillings that can then be cemented into your mouth, all in a single visit. Traditionally, these services would take two appointments, which included taking impressions and putting in temporary crowns while you waited to get the final product back from the lab. Now the new technology now allows your dentist to provide a strong, tooth-coloured crown in one appointment, and you leave with the permanent restoration in your mouth.
Electric anaesthesia. When the dentist freezes you before a procedure, the pain you feel isn’t actually from the needle – it’s the speed with which the anaesthetic is being delivered into your tissue. Electronically-controlled anaesthetic, while still a needle, is a less painful alternative that controls the speed of delivery to provide you with a more comfortable experience.
Advanced microscopes. New phase-contrast microscopes can see the bacterial activity in your mouth – as well as how your immune system is responding to that bacteria – allowing us to determine the overall health of your mouth and decide on a course of treatment.
Better materials for fillings. New restoration materials such as composite resins, bonded porcelain and ceramics are healthier, better-looking and more versatile alternatives to traditional silver amalgams.
Specialized software. Dental treatment programs now allow us to easily chart the status of your teeth, show you before and after images of them, and provide better consistency of care.
So what does the future hold for dentistry? Take a look at this interesting interview ABC did with Dr. Timothy Rose, president of the American Dental Association about recent advances, and ongoing research that could soon result is some pretty exciting innovations: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Dental/story?id=119230
As the field of dentistry continues to evolve, expect even more advances in techniques, instruments, materials, equipment and software that will provide better care, a more comfortable experience, and, of course, healthy, lasting smiles that feel good – and look great.
If you have questions or comments about this blog, or would like to see some of this dental technology in action, call us at 289.635.1766 (KIND) or drop us an email. We’d love to hear from you.