Every day, technology is changing our lives. Dentists are increasingly using cutting-edge technology and technological advancements to care for our oral health. Dentists can now successfully treat many common dental conditions in a gentle, minimally invasive manner, depending on the type of treatment required.
The technologies listed below are rapidly transforming the field of dentistry. With the right training and technology, a single treatment visit can last only a few minutes instead of several over the course of a week, and treatment pain can be reduced by up to 95%.
Consider how difficult it must be for children, people with special needs, or the elderly in nursing homes to visit the dentist if it is a chore for you. Another issue is accessibility; people who live in rural areas almost never have access to their preferred dentist. Teledentistry’s spread has the potential to drastically modify this.
Teledentistry services make it easier for people to access oral and dental care; are significantly less expensive for patients; encourage patients to use less expensive preventive measures, and allow people to consult with doctors who would otherwise be unavailable. Patients can use a teledental platform to take pictures, send relevant information to a dentist remotely, and conduct live consultations. The dentist may initiate a video chat with the client and the caretaker in order for the doctor to see and speak with the client, establish a rapport, and bring them into the office.
Teledentistry is gaining popularity, and authorities are reacting appropriately. The demand for remote care increased during the pandemic. The American Dental Association has issued a policy on teledentistry, which includes guidelines on the modes of communication that such services may use. This determines how quickly teledentistry will gain traction.
- Artificial intelligence
Dentists currently use software to gain insights into clinical decision-making. These will be improved to include A.I. algorithms to assist clinicians in selecting the best modalities for their patients.
Dental medicine is entering a new stage of digitisation as a result of the exponential increase in health data and the maturation of healthcare A.I. These ingenious algorithms can be integrated into the healthcare system to analyse patient data, scientific discoveries, and therapeutic approaches to provide diagnostic and therapeutic recommendations.
The collection of health data, particularly genomic data, which can provide a deeper understanding of each person’s system for individualised care, will be even more beneficial. AI tools with access to this data can immediately provide clinicians with the best treatment options and success probabilities.
In addition to processing health data, AI-based algorithms can help specialists provide better dental care. The researchers developed a machine learning method for precisely measuring immune cells in the vicinity of oral cancer cells. This increases the likelihood of survival by providing more information about cancer progression and resistance. Others are employing neural networks to more precisely identify dental decay and periodontal disease on radiographs. These techniques may soon be regarded as best practises.
- Augmented Reality
Technology is increasingly being used in dentistry to help patients visualise how they will look after reconstructive and cosmetic procedures. Many companies have developed augmented reality (AR) apps that enable users to use the camera on their phone or tablet to overlay virtual representations of the improved set of teeth prior to the procedure. Before entering the operating room, patients and dentists can customise dental features such as height and spacing.
- Virtual Reality in dentistry
Virtual reality (VR), not to be confused with augmented reality (AR), employs a special headset to completely isolate the user from the outside world and immerse them in a virtual environment. Students and aspiring dental surgeons can use such a headset to travel to the operating room (OR) from their couch, while patients can use it to improve their experience while sitting in the dreaded dentist’s chair by visualising a soothing landscape.
Few students nowadays have the opportunity to observe a surgeon perform surgery, making it difficult to learn the complexities of the field in this manner. Surgeons can use a virtual reality camera to stream operations to viewers all over the world, allowing medical students to virtually enter the operating room. Other medical specialties took longer to adopt this approach than dentistry.
- Computer-assisted design and 3D-printing
Since the technology can be used to print medicines, prosthetics, and even organ replicas, 3D-printing has generated a lot of buzz in healthcare. Its significance was highlighted during the COVID-19 crisis, when hospitals were forced to avoid supply chains in order to meet demand. The technology will be integrated into dental labs as it is expected to become an important component of healthcare practise.
The industry is already experiencing a resurgence as a result of computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-assisted manufacturing (CAM), including 3D printing, which is transforming them into more affordable and productive digital labs. Traditionally, a dentist would take a mould of the patient’s tooth, fabricate a temporary crown, and send it to a dental laboratory to be replaced with a permanent one.
The tooth is prepared for the crown using CAD/CAM technology by drilling it, and a computer image is then taken. A machine that receives this image then produces the crown in-office. By using a 3D printer to do the labour-intensive work, dental labs can expand their business by removing the bottleneck of manual modelling.
Furthermore, 3D printers can produce orthodontic models, surgical guides, aligners, retainers, and other dental equipment faster and more precisely than traditional methods. This helps to streamline processes, reduces human error and labour requirements, and ultimately gives technology a time and cost advantage.
- Regenerative dentistry
We’ve grown accustomed to expecting our teeth to fall out as we age or sustain damage, necessitating the use of prosthetics. In the field of regenerative dentistry, however, the development of self-healing teeth and biological therapy for damaged teeth challenges this preconceived notion.
Previously, Harvard University and the University of Nottingham researchers created dental fillings that allowed teeth to heal on their own. These fillings promote the growth of dentin, the primary component of our teeth, by stimulating stem cells. This successfully allows patients to regrow teeth damaged by dental disease and may eliminate the need for root canals.
New findings from Karolinska Institutet researchers could accelerate the advancement of regenerative medicine by 2020. The differentiation pathways of the cells that make up human teeth were mapped. They also discovered new cell types and layers in the teeth, which can affect tooth sensitivity.
- Intra-oral camera
One of the most inconvenient aspects of going to the dentist is that no matter how wide you open your mouth, even with the help of the trusty dental mirror, the dentist can’t always see everything they want to see. Such circumstances are not only unnerving for both the patient and the doctor. Intraoral cameras, on the other hand, can address this issue directly. Patients can easily understand the clear, detailed images provided by the cameras because the cameras’ special liquid lens technology functions like the human eye and ensures easy image capture.
Mother Nature provides the cutting-edge CRISPR genome editing technique, but scientists only recently realised its enormous potential. It could become the most powerful cancer weapon ever or, more controversially, it could aid in future conception. The technology will also be beneficial in the field of dentistry.
So, what might CRISPR achieve in dentistry? China’s scientists are researching the technology for isolating and turning off genes linked to oral cancer. Other researchers are using CRISPR to alter the function of plaque-forming bacteria. Their efforts may even result in a reduction or complete prevention of dental caries and periodontal disease.
Dental Medicine has a Promising Future
It’s incredible how many disruptive innovations will become available to us, whether for improving our professional practises or improving the oral health of our patients. It is our responsibility to stay updated on new developments and expanding opportunities in healthcare.