Dentistry goes digital too
20 February 2019
 
Oral Surgeon, Dr Mark Diacono, talks to us about the latest advancements in digital technology and some of the benefits that come along with these advancements.
 
Digital technology is fast changing the way dentists and doctors practice and these advancements have made it an exciting time to be involved with these developments. Computerisation has brought about technological changes that modified dental practice. From state of the art 3D digital x-rays to real time navigational surgery and from computer aided design to 3D printing andmanufacturing restorations in-house within minutes, Digital dentistry uses imaging technology to improve the entire experience when undergoing dental treatment. The technology available today provides greater precision, speed, enhanced aesthetics, quality and comfort.

This does not mean that all analog techniques are obsolete but dentists now have a choice on how to manage their patients. Some examples of these technological advancements in the field of dentistry are explained below.
 
 
CONE BEAM CT SCANS
This digital technology produces wonderful 3D images, reduces the radiation exposure to patients when compared to conventional CT scans and allows dentists to integrate information, diagnose and plan treatments such as dental implants or wisdom tooth removal.

COMPUTER GUIDED DESIGN
Digital information from the Cone Beam CT scan can be used to produce surgical guides that are used during implant placement, increase the accuracy of surgery and improve the prosthetic outcome. Navigational surgery: New hard and software empowers dental surgeons to visualise, in ‘real time’, the position of surgical instruments during implant placement on a digital 3D scan.

CAD-CAM RESTORATIONS

It is now possible to fabricate amazingly accurate inlays (fillings), crowns and bridges using ceramic, zirconia or hybrid materials without the need to take a conventional dental impression. The dentist takes a digital impression using an intra-oral camera and new devices such as CEREC™ (Sirona). These are used to design and mill the final restoration within the clinic itself. This time saving technology reduces the number of visits required by the patient.

SMILE DESIGN™
One of many software packages that dentists use to plan the shape and position of teeth in aesthetic treatments. The dentist uses the software with digital photographs to design future smiles and pass on this information to both the patient and the ceramist.

3D PRINTING

This technology is rapidly creeping into the dental world. 3D scans and computer generated designs can be used to print models of a patient’s jaw bone or teeth to help with treatment planning or even print prostheses, such as temporary crowns or dentures. This technology has also had a great impact on orthodontic treatment.
 
“TRANSPARENT”
ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT

Orthodontic treatment such as Invisalign® or Clearsmile™ are becoming increasingly popular instead of conventional fixed braces. If clinically viable, the orthodontist sends digital scans of the patients’ teeth to a laboratory that prints a series of clear acrylic aligners for the patient to wear over the treatment period. These devices move the teeth to achieve a nicer smile.
 
 
Oral Surgeon, Dr Mark Diacono
New technologies are being delivered at a fast pace. However, it is important to remember that these developments do not totally replace the knowledge, experience and skill of the dentist. Remember it is better to prevent disease, so visit your dentist regularly and when there, ask about the latest technologies
 
 
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