21st Century Dentistry

Technology launches dentistry into a new era.

Ninety percent of the products used by dentists today weren’t even invented 15 years ago. Further, those items that are currently being used to provide services are constantly being improved, some on a daily basis.

Photo courtesy of Advanced Dental Cosmetic Center, P.A.

CAD/CAM dentistry uses the latest computer technology.

“Technology has entered the dental profession and is allowing us to provide service that was a dream in years past,” relates J. Terry Alford, DMD, who practices general, cosmetic and restorative dentistry at Advanced Dental Cosmetic Center in Bradenton.
The modern dental office can now provide decay detection with laser technology so accurate that decay can be diagnosed months before it could be detected by conventional methods. When new digital radiographs (x-rays) are combined with laser detection, dental disease doesn’t stand a chance.
It has been estimated that today’s dental radiographs are 100 times more accurate than the older film technology. The American Dental Association (ADA) has reported that more than 50 percent of dentists in the US have converted to digital technology to improve the quality of service they provide to their patients.
Technology has also extended to cosmetic dentistry with computer imaging. Dentists who do cosmetic procedures can now use computers to reveal the patient’s new smile before they even begin the makeover. This allows the patient to preview their smile and make their desires known to the dentist. The dentist can then communicate this information to the dental lab to assure that the beautiful smile the patient has helped design is achieved.

Complete Health

To dentists, dental health means that the teeth and gums are in their best possible condition. Periodontal disease has long been the primary cause of tooth loss in adults. Today, technology has added new protocols that dentists can use to help patients maintain healthy gums and bones. Gum lasers are now common among periodontists (dentists who specialize in treating the gums) and general dentists who treat gum diseases.
For patients who have lost teeth and would like to regain function, there is implant dentistry. Dentists all over the world are now providing this service to their patients. As technology has improved, so has the success of implant dentistry. The Academy of Implant Dentistry reports that the success rate of implants is 98 percent. This incredible success is attributable to training and the design of implant systems stemming from computer enhancement and technology.
The greatest technologies in dentistry today are cone beam, three-dimensional radiographs and CAD/CAM (computer-aided design and manufacturing). The cone beam is for implant placement, disease diagnosis and treatment planning. CAD/CAM uses very special cameras that scan the patient’s mouth and record the teeth. This information is then sent to the computer, and new teeth can be designed and then milled from a solid block of ceramic material.

Embracing Change

Laser technology, new protocols and medications, digital radiographs and new dental materials have changed the face of dentistry. Dentists and the ADA have embraced these changes, which have brought the profession into this century. They give dentists more ways to fulfill their commitment to their patients and allow patients to keep their teeth for a lifetime.
Patients who haven’t seen a dentist regularly should get check-ups, and if they are seeking dental care for a specific problem, they should get at least three opinions regarding their condition. In this way, patients can become informed dental consumers and can evaluate the presence of new technology in the offices they visit.

* Article provided by Advanced Dental Cosmetic Center.
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