21 Amazing Advancements in Modern Dentistry
The field of dentistry is constantly evolving and changing to better suit patient needs. If you haven't visited a dentist for some time, you may be surprised to discover that there are a lot of new options to keep teeth healthy and beautiful.
Advancements in dental technology can offer you modern solutions to traditional dental problems. There are many new advancements in modern dentistry that your dentist may choose to offer, depending on the case.
The main desire is to provide you, as a patient, with leading-edge dental treatment that can be performed in a more efficient, effective and comfortable manner.
Many dental practices are already advertising their new dental technology; so let's take a closer look at some of the more popular modern technologies that can greatly improve dental treatments.
New technologies that better detect and treat caries
Diagnodent is a new, state of the art device that dentists use to detect early cavities. It is a small portable device that uses sound pulse and laser to detect caries earlier than traditional methods can.
The device is particularly useful when caries are hiding in places regular X-rays can’t find (such as occlusal grooves and pits). The accuracy of diagnosing early lesions is significantly higher, so treatment can commence immediately, limiting the amount of decay allowed to occur and preserving the maximum amount of natural healthy tooth structure.
Air abrasion serves as an alternative to a traditional dental drill. The air-abrasion system is primarily used to treat small cavities, but it can also be used to help repair old tooth restorations or remove superficial stains and tooth discolorations.
During air abrasion, a fine stream of particles is aimed at the stained or decayed portion of the tooth. The blast consists of air and aluminum oxide particles; this mixture is propelled toward the tooth surface by compressed air or a gas that runs through the dental handpiece. Small particles of decay on the tooth surface are removed as the stream of particles strikes them. The particles of decay are then "suctioned" away through a thin tube.
Compared to the traditional drilling method, air abrasion generates no heat, pressure, or vibration, thus reducing the need for anesthesia and preserving more of the tooth's healthy structure. Air abrasion is a safe procedure. The only precautions needed before air abrasion are protective eyewear (to prevent eye irritation from the spray) and the use of a rubber dam.
Microscopes offer dentists the ability to see micro-cracks, weakened underlying tooth structure and the proximity of the dental nerves with precise accuracy.
Microscopes also provide more accuracy in removing decayed tooth, while preserving healthy tooth structure. The microscope is an improved diagnostic tool as well as a treatment assist dental tool. Besides cavity treatment, it can be successfully used in Endodontics, Oral Surgery or Periodontics.
Composite resin materials are continually being improved and refined to better replicate tooth colors, to be easier to apply and to be more durable.
They offer the advantage over older technologies such as gold or amalgam because they can better replicate tooth colors and tooth function. In addition, the translucent qualities of the newer materials have helped to produce beautiful natural looking results.
Composite resins rely on the bonding technique and are used today in many restorations such as fillings, veneers, inlays and even some dental crowns or bridges... learn more about composite materials.
Dental implants technologies
Today, dental implants are the state-of-the-art tooth replacement systems and are now more common than in years past. In the past, implants often failed. Now, the typical life of an implant is about 15 years or longer. About 95% of implants today are successful.
Dental implant technology continues to improve. Mini-implants can now accommodate small tooth replacements. The industry has also focused on reducing treatment time and some implants can be placed immediately after tooth extraction as opposed to waiting six months after extraction. Here are some modern technologies that may improve dental implant treatments:
The CT Scan or CAT Scan has become a vital tool in the diagnosing of dental implant position and placement. A CT Scan (computed tomography) is an imaging method that uses x-rays to create pictures of cross-sections of the body. Modern CT scan software can provide three-dimensional images of a high quality and extreme complexity.
The CT scanning software allows the dentist to determine if bone quantity and quality exist and can be used to virtually place dental implants using the computer program prior to any surgical intervention. Thus, it eliminates the possible manual placement errors and matches planning to prosthetic requirements.
CT scan technology has become increasingly specialized in dentistry as implants have become the standard of care for tooth replacement.
Cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT)#6
A CBCT is a compact, faster and safer version of the regular CT. Through the use of a cone-shaped X-Ray beam, the size of the scanner, radiation dosage and time needed for scanning are all dramatically reduced.
CBCT with more windows
The CBCT produces 3D type images that let the dentist look at mouth structures from different vantage points; it can show the width of mouth structures in addition to their height. It also can show things like cysts and impacted teeth, as well as nerves and arteries that might make the implantation more challenging.
Better bone grafting techniques#7
In dental implantology, bone grafting is necessary when there is a lack of bone. For an implant to osseointegrate, it needs to be surrounded by a healthy quantity of bone. To achieve an adequate width and height of bone, various bone grafting techniques have been developed.
During the healing phase, natural bone replaces the graft, forming a new bony base for the implant and adding volume to the bone. The process is called guided bone regeneration (GBR).
Bone replacement performed by clinicians today is more refined than in the past and can be more easily assimilated into the existing bone structure.
The Periotest is a specific device that measures the degree of implant mobility inside the bone. It has the advantage of measuring the levels of subclinical mobility using an ultrasonically vibrating probe. It is advisable to combine this test with a dental radiography
Digital X-Rays #9
Digital X-rays are faster and contain less radiation than traditional X-rays. This modern dental technique is also more comfortable and allows dentists to find problems with your teeth, mouth, and jaw faster. Digital radiographs offer a way to capture dental images through a sensor that processes the image onto a computer screen.
When a patient has a digital X-ray done, the image appears on the computer in a matter of seconds. The X-ray can be printed on photographic film or it can be copied to a CD or released via e-mail. The dentist has the possibility to zoom into the image or perform various measurements with the help of a computer software.
Digital X-rays are less harmful to patients as they contain up to 90% less radiation compared to traditional X-rays... learn more about dental X-rays
The intraoral camera is a small, lightweight tool that can produce accurate images of the teeth and the supporting structures. This technology allows dentists to conduct a thorough checkup of the mouth and better assess their patient’s oral care needs. It can be also used to obtain well-defined pictures of hard to see places within a patient’s mouth.
The camera also allows dentists to show these images to patients while assessing and educating the patient’s needs. It can be used by your dentist or a dental technician that might be involved in your treatment, to see tooth defects or some oral lesions.
The digital scanner or intraoral scanner is generally used by the dentist to make a digital impression after preparing a tooth for a crown, inlay or veneer. Normally, patients respond better to digital impressions (compared to traditional dental impressions) where there is no need to have a mouthful of impression materials.
The digital impression is sent to the corresponding designing software where the dentist or dental technician can construct the designed tooth restoration on a screen.
An intraoral scanner can also provide a digital map of the tooth and create a 3-D replica model of the dental structure. This helps in an accurate color analysis for cosmetic restorations made in a dental laboratory such as porcelain veneers, crowns, and bridges.
Laser dentistry is a very exciting area of development in dental technologies. Lasers use light energy as their method of operation, resulting in a shortened and almost painless healing period.
Lasers are used to improve efficiency and eliminate discomfort in a number of dental procedures, including cavity detection and treatment, reducing tooth sensitivity, treatment of benign tumors, cold sores, gummy smile changes, crown lengthening, and teeth whitening. The laser can act differently depending on the procedure performed:
When a laser is used for a surgical procedure or a cavity preparation, it acts as a cutting instrument or a vaporizer of tissue that it comes in contact with.
When a laser is used for cavity detection, the decayed teeth glow when exposed to the wavelength of the diode laser, resulting in higher readings on the display compared to healthy teeth.
When a laser is used for "curing" a filling, it helps to strengthen the bond between the filling and the tooth.
When the laser is used in teeth whitening procedures, it acts as a heat source and enhances the effect of tooth-bleaching agents.
CAD/CAM (computer assisted design, computer assisted manufacture) technology allows for the fabrication of dental restorations through computerized technology.
The CAD/CAM systems can improve the design and creation of dental restorations, including crowns, veneers, inlays and onlays, fixed bridges, dental implant restorations, zirconia frames, dentures (removable or fixed), and even orthodontic appliances.
This modern technology can also be used to complete tooth restorations (such as crowns, bridges, veneers, and inlays) in one visit. When using the traditional method, such restorations would require at least two visits to complete. This process is known as the CEREC technology and it allows dentists to construct, produce, and insert individual ceramic restorations directly at the point of treatment.
Root canal therapy implies a series of procedures that aim to shape, clean and decontaminate all the root canals of the infected tooth. If the root canal was performed using the traditional method, all the operations were executed manually, using a variable number of endodontic files.
However, in modern Endodontics, a wide variety of electronic endodontic systems are available to help the dentist. These systems have the advantage of monitoring the root canal before, during and after instrumentation, hence greatly increasing the accuracy and safety.
The rotatory systems have many important advantages:
- Preparing the root canals at low speed using specific hand-pieces
- Shaping and cleaning root canals is done while monitoring the position of the files inside the canal
- The root canals are measured using the electronic apex locator. The apex locator is an electronic device used to determine the position of the apical foramen and thus determine the length of the root canal space. The position of the files and information about the length and shape of root canals appear on a screen that is attached to the device.
Many patients are afraid of the dentist because they think that having treatment will hurt, while others are scared of needles and injections. The good news is that more and more dentists use new and modern equipment to make dental treatment and anesthesia an acceptable, normal part of life.
The Wand is a computerized tool that can deliver anesthesia in a slow and methodical manner. The slow and gentle delivery associated with The Wand often makes injections painless. The delivery holder is small and easy for the dentist to use.
The Wand can be more comfortable than the syringe, it can greatly reduce anxiety and it also eliminates collateral numbness, so patients can go straight back to work without a numb face.
Oral sedation is being utilized by more and more dentists because it is both safe and effective. Compared to more traditional IV sedation, oral sedation requires no needles and the patient experiences a conscious state of mind and can respond to the dentist.
Oral sedation may be helpful for patients who fear the dentist or avoid trips because of the anxiety of sitting in a dental chair. Of course, not every doctor can perform this technique, so be sure to check if the doctors at the dental practice you intend to visit are licensed to provide oral sedation.
Oral cancer screening
VELscope is a brand new oral cancer screening system that uses incandescent light so your dentist can see abnormalities that may not be apparent or visible to the naked eye.
This new form of technology is effectively used to detect early forms of cancer or disease during an oral cancer screening
ViziLite is a recently approved oral lesion identification and marking device. It is a painless screening tool for the detection of small changes in your mouth. ViziLite also identifies, evaluates and monitors oral abnormalities in patients who are at increased risk for oral cancer.
Teeth Whitening - Zoom Whitening procedure#19
Zoom whitening is a teeth-bleaching procedure performed in a dentist's office. After a hydrogen peroxide gel is applied to the teeth, an overhead lamp delivers UV light to the area, breaking down the activated gel. This allows oxygen to enter the enamel and dentin, bleaching the colored substances while leaving the structure of the teeth intact.
a bleaching gel is applied on the surface of teeth after the soft-tissues are painted with a protective layer
the bleaching gel is light-cured
Some users experience comfortable procedures, while others have reported a great deal of pain (this side effect is known as the "zinger"). Treatments typically last about an hour and may result in up to eight shades of improvement. The results vary from person to person, but many report very good whitening results.
Orthodontics - Invisalign#20
Invisalign is a popular brand of clear aligners and alternative to traditional dental braces. Although Invisalign is more limited in terms of treating serious orthodontic cases, it generally works great for overcrowding, if the condition is not extremely severe.
Invisalign consists of a series of clear (invisible), customized removable aligners. Each set of aligners is worn for approximately two weeks and then replaced with the next set. As patients progress through the series of aligners, teeth will begin moving, little by little, gradually towards the projected final position.
TMD Syndrome - NTI Device#21
The NTI-tss Device is used for patients who suffer from TMD and migraine headaches. The device eliminates the need for more invasive surgery and can help with problems associated with Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) discomforts. The device can be molded to fit the teeth and is effective at reducing the pains associated with TMD.
123dentist.com, Community Dentist Network: Top 10 New Technologies in Dentistry
Your Dentistry Guide: Dental Technologies: The Leading Edge of Dental Care
Dental Economics: Digital dentistry: Is this the future of dentistry?
Last review and update: June 2018