Technological advancements are always an exciting topic to discuss. Particularly interesting are the advancements in medicine, especially now that we’re in a pandemic. But we tend to overlook the developments in the field of dentistry. It’s easy to take our teeth and our oral health routines for granted. The truth is that there’s a lot to appreciate in modern dental technology. We’ve come a long wayfrom pumice-based toothpaste, brass dentures, and radiogram dental X-rays. Let’s look at some of the most impressive and helpful technological advancements in dentistry over the last few years.
Most people don’t like the look of metal braces. Though they may be the most affordable aligners on the market, metal braces are also the most visible. And while you’re allowed a certain level of customization with them – you can choose what colors you want them to be – for some people, this doesn’t make them less unsightly. Some people have to get braces in adulthood rather than in childhood, and they can feel childish or unprofessional wearing them. This is where clear dental aligners can come in handy. They offer you all the treatment of metal aligners, but they’re much less visible. They’re made of a transparent plastic material that is custom-made to fit your row of teeth.
Regenerative filling materials
In 2016, researchers from the University of Nottingham and Harvard University developed regenerative dental fillers. These fillings are placed in contact with the tooth’s pulp tissue and stimulate stem cell growth to repair and regenerate the area’s damage. This is a remarkable advancement from more traditional fillings, which had no regenerative properties and only served to replace the extracted teeth.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sped up technological advancements in many industries to follow social distancing guidelines. Because of the proximity to the mouth required in dental diagnoses and treatments, dental professionals are the most at risk for contracting the virus.Teledentistry allows dental professionals to monitor, diagnose, advise, and plan treatment procedures for their patients remotely. It’s not a new concept, though, and was used as early as 1994 by the US military.
CAD/CAM technology and 3D-printing
The pandemic has seen healthcare workers deal with supply shortages for medical and protective equipment. During their hour of need, 3D printing has proven the capacity of its versatile real-world applications. 3D printing has provided healthcare professionals with validated ventilators and COVID-19 testing kits. With NASCAR’s racing season postponed because of the virus, the auto racing institution has dedicated its 3D printers to PPE production. In dentistry, computer-assisted design, computer-assisted manufacture (CAD/CAM) technology is used to create aligners, retainers, orthodontic models, and crowns. The designs are then produced using 3D-printers.
This has had many positive uses in different fields, and dentistry is no different. Technology giant Philips has a smart Bluetooth toothbrush. Sensors and tracking systems log the wear and tear of your brush head by keeping track of how long you’ve been using it and how hard you press when brushing your teeth. It advises you on when it needs to be changed. It also has different intensity settings you can choose from, or you can program it to choose the intensity for you automatically.Kolibree also has a smart electric toothbrush with an accompanying mobile application. The program is family-friendly and helps to educate young children about the importance of oral hygiene.
While our artificial intelligence (AI) technology is still far from what we’ve seen in science fiction movies, its current stage still has many uses for us today. In dentistry, AI can look for signs of dental decay, periodontal disease, and oral cancer. It is also used to perform clerical duties such as scheduling patient appointments and analyzing medical records.
We’re familiar with augmented reality (AR) in mobile apps such as Snapchat, Pokemon Go, Google Lens, and even home decorating apps such as IKEA Place. In the realm of dental care, AR is helpful for both established dental professionals and dentistry students. Immersify Education has a mobile application that uses AR to simulate clinical settings to help undergraduate dentistry students learn and practice at home. Among professionals, AR has proven useful in implantology through the dynamic navigation systems it provides.
Technological advancements have helped us in many fields and aspects of our daily lives. Technology’s contributions to modern dentistry should not be overlooked because it continues to provide us with safer, smarter, and more efficient ways to care for our oral health.