Dentistry in the Digital Age

Ahh, technology…it’s hard to ignore the impact that it has made to modern day living in recent years, particularly with the advent of the smartphone. Ultra high-resolution televisions, video telephone calling, remote-controlled drones…there has been an incredible abundance of innovation in all aspects of life.

So, what does that mean for dentistry? Well, quite a lot actually.

Dentistry has already come a very long way from more obscure beginnings, and I often hear stories from many of my patients about the kind of dental treatment they received when they were very young, long before I picked up my very first instrument in dental school. In all honesty, the idea of a foot-operated peddle drill sounds both intense and exhausting, although I’m sure it created a generation of dentists with very well-defined calf muscles…

But where it’s going from here is exciting indeed. I was very fortunate to recently be able to attend the 4th Asia-Pacific CAD/CAM Digital Dentistry International Conference in Singapore in August 2017, where a host of world-renowned speakers in various fields of dentistry presented information on the latest cutting-edge technology that is now becoming available to dentists for use in practice. For those not in the know, ‘CAD/CAM’ stands for ‘Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing’, with the emphasis here of course being on computers. In essence, computers are now being used in dentistry to create solutions for restoring teeth and function in a more accurate, reproducible and consistent manner to deliver the most optimal results possible for patients.

Many of you may already be aware that Channon Lawrence Dental was the first practice in Gympie to deliver a CAD/CAM system with our Cerec computer system, which allows us to create same-day crowns and restorations by the chairside, eliminating the need for physical dental impressions and multiple appointments for lab-created restorations to be fabricated. I have always been quite technology obsessed from quite a young age, so I can tell you first hand how blown away I was when I first started using this system, in terms of both it’s concept and it’s technical accuracy…and I strongly believe that this is a system I will continue to use for the rest of my dental career.

A whole host of new technology appears to be on the horizon for dentistry, including things such as the use of 3D printing to create models, and lasers to carry out root canal treatment. For me though, one of the big and most exciting advances coming through at present is with ‘digital smile design’ – this is where a computer program is used to measure your facial proportions digitally to create an ideal smile to suit your specific profile, with input from both the dentist and the patient to modify as desired. Through the use of augmented reality technology, you’ll actually be able to digitally impose the proposed design for your teeth onto your face using a smartphone or a tablet, using the camera to create a live image, and once everyone is happy with the result, this information can then be sent digitally to a lab that will then use a computer to create the restorations to match your design…amazing!

The road ahead for dentistry in the digital age looks promising, and I look forward to keeping up to date with all of the innovations that are being developed over time and then being able to offer these services to all of my patients in the coming years!

 

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