2018 will be my 17th year in dentistry so I thought it might be fun to look at the progress we’ve made within that time in modern dentistry. Dentistry has significantly evolved in the past 20 years and those advancements are good news for patients! For that, we should all be thankful!
Digital Imaging. Using a fraction of the energy necessary to expose an image, while enhancing the quality of an image through software, has changed dentistry incredibly. We can three dimensionally image teeth and jaws in ways that improve the odds of success and plan for ideal outcomes while more easily see complexities and challenges. Intra-oral photographs taken with a camera smaller than the dental drill help illustrate not only to a patient, but also to insurances, family members, and other doctors what it is we are seeing. The technology has been around for years now, yet it still amazes me when a patient is stunned at the photos we take to illustrate their teeth.
High Strength White Restorations. Gone are days of metal based white crowns. Now we are thankful for ceramic crowns, veneers, onlays, and bridges that resist fracture, withstand the forces of your bite, have compatibly with our biology, and look as good, or better, than natural teeth.
Dental Implants. The biology and science of implants continues to impress! We are in an era of advancing technology all around us in medicine. As material and biologic science evolves, the benefit for our patients comes in better tooth replacement options so that a ‘hopeless’ tooth can be replaced timely, comfortably, and predictably. Implants have been around for 30+ years, but the materials and techniques used today offer up incredible advancements where the combination of digital imaging/planning, high strength materials (and ultimately crowns/attachments/bridges) all come together to provide our patients with results not as easily achieved and (more importantly) maintained even 15 years ago.
Fast setting, accurate impressions and digital scanning. In the last 20 years, we’ve gone from stringy goop that ‘set quickly’ in 5-7 minutes to less chemical tasting, faster setting, highly accurate impression materials. Even more exciting, we now have scanners which are capable of making movies of your teeth to create 3 dimensional duplications of teeth, gums, restorations, and prepared teeth. From these impressions or scans, machines and software are capable of building better fitting and higher quality restorations out of every material at our disposal – even gold!
Good local anesthetics. I have a conversation about once a month now about novocaine. We have that conversation because many patients are shocked that it’s no longer in use! I suppose someone is still using it somewhere, but we are so fortunate to have anesthetics (and techniques) that provide long lasting and profound anesthesia with a rapid onset. While many patients don’t relish the idea of being numb any longer than is necessary, we are seeing promising results in reversal agents, such as OraVerse, that return normal sensation very quickly.
Our team strives to stay informed and educated on the advancements our dental profession is making. I am grateful to our team for taking the journey with me, but I’m just as thankful for the seemingly countless patients who have chosen to also take that journey with us. We all have much to be thankful for!