The practice of dentistry looks much different than it did at the turn of the century. Technological advancements are making trips to the dentist quicker, less painful, and more reliable, while other product developments are enabling better oral self-care.
“These new technologies are having a huge impact on how dental professionals treat their patients and how people take care of their oral care at home,” says Sargon Lazarof, DDS (www.sargondental.com), a cosmetic dentist in Encino, California, and creator of the immediate tooth replacement device known as Ultratooth.
“Nobody likes going to the dentist. The drills, injections, and the menacing tools are enough to scare even the toughest of people. The good news is that going to the dentist is nothing to fear, all thanks to technology and that patients have never had better oral care tools.”
Some of the dental innovations in the past 20-plus years include:
• Clear aligners. The invention of clear aligners eliminates any embarrassment patients who need braces might feel about their appearance. Clear aligners can move crooked teeth and close gaps without using metal brackets or wires. “They also make it easier to keep teeth clean than is the case with braces,” Lazarof says. “Many patients who wear traditional braces and had poor oral hygiene to start with won’t adjust to the cleaning routines that are necessary when you’re wearing braces. Often, patients will develop calcium deposits on the front of their teeth following orthodontic treatment.”
• Loupes. These aren’t for the patient, at least not directly. Loupes are special glasses for the dentist that have built-in magnification, allowing the dentist to see a far larger image of a patient’s mouth. “Loupes improve the quality of patient care and make procedures easier and faster,” Lazarof says.
• Robotics (AI). Artificial intelligence is transforming the way dentists work and patients receive treatment. “Robots are now able to perform minimally invasive work, like filling cavities, teeth cleaning, cap applications, and tooth extractions,” Lazarof says. “Although robots aren’t currently accessible for more invasive treatments, there has been success indicating that AI dentistry may become more mainstream in the near future.”
• Teeth whitening. Improvements to whitening chemicals and methods make whitening your teeth safe and convenient. “Although prescription-strength treatments with whitening trays are available, the most effective whitening treatments are performed by a dentist,” Lazarof says.
• Ultratooth. Generally, the process for conventional dental implants requires multiple appointments and several months. Ultratooth, Lazarof’s invention, offers a replacement tooth in a single one-hour visit. “This eliminates the need for other removable appliances or unwanted gaps in a patient’s smile,” Lazarof says. “One advantage over traditional implants, besides allowing the patient full function after one visit, is that the tissue and the bone don’t have to be built up again.”
“The dental industry is riding the wave of the future,” Lazarof says. “Virtually every year brings change, whether it be inpatient care and optimizing the patient experience, digital dental trends, or improved business practices. Technology is at the center of it all.”