Medhealth Review

The Evolution of Dentistry: From Analog to AI-Driven Precision

As a dentist, I have witnessed an incredible transformation in the field of dentistry over the past two decades. The journey from the 1990s to today has been nothing short of astonishing, with advancements that have changed the way we approach tooth replacement, implant dentistry, and patient care.

Back in the 1990s, when a patient needed to replace a missing tooth or teeth, our options were relatively limited. Removable prostheses and fixed bridges were the go-to solutions, and dental implants were still relatively niche. While implants offered a more comfortable alternative, their use was constrained by limited expertise and technology.

In those days, performing dental implants required a meticulous approach. Clinical evaluation, patient interviews, and panoramic X-rays were our primary tools for treatment planning. The margin for error was slim, as we had to avoid hitting nerves or ending up in the sinus cavity during implant placement. Once the implant was in place and integrated with the bone, the prosthetic creation process began. This involved analog impressions, casting frameworks, wax-ups, porcelain application, and mounting acrylic teeth onto a bar to create a hybrid prosthesis. The process was labor-intensive, requiring precision and expertise.

Additionally, the restorative materials of the time had limitations. Outcomes were often less natural-looking, and prostheses would break and wear out sooner than expected.

However, the dental landscape began to change with the advent of technology. Software design programs and milling machines streamlined the prosthetic creation process, making it more efficient and accurate. The use of Zirconia for implant-supported restorations marked a significant improvement in durability and aesthetics.

The introduction of Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) brought a new level of precision to treatment planning. With 3D imaging, implant placement became more predictable and less prone to complications.

The integration of designing software, digital printers, and intraoral scanners further revolutionized implant dentistry. Impressions became faster and more precise, reducing discomfort for patients.

But the most striking development in recent years has been the emergence of robotics in implant placement. Robots are now capable of precisely positioning implants, making the procedure more accurate and efficient than ever before.

As if that wasn’t enough, artificial intelligence (AI) is making its mark in the field of dental diagnostics. AI-driven diagnostic tools are set to enhance our ability to detect and address dental issues, potentially transforming the way we diagnose and treat patients.

This rapid technological progress is exciting but also raises questions about the future of the dental profession. The use of robotics and AI may bring benefits such as faster treatment delivery and reduced costs for patients, but it could also disrupt the job market for dental professionals.

In this evolving landscape, it’s crucial for us, as dental practitioners, to adapt and embrace digital skills. Staying relevant in the field means keeping up with the latest technological advancements and continually improving our abilities.

The dental world is evolving at a pace we never could have imagined back in the ’90s. From analog to AI-driven precision, the journey has been extraordinary. While it’s both exciting and somewhat intimidating to consider the possibilities that lie ahead, one thing remains certain: the commitment to providing the best possible care for our patients will continue to be our driving force. The dental profession may change, but our dedication to oral health and patient well-being remains unwavering.

By Dr. Alberto Meza, Clinical Director and Founder at Meza Dental Care

  • Clinical Director at Meza Dental Care Costa Rica and Meza Dental Care Cancun.
  • Postgraduate training of advanced cosmetic dentistry , UCLA 2007-2009
  • Accredited member AACD – American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry 2015
  • Postgraduate training on advanced implant dentistry , UCLA 2010-2011
  • Member of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry since 2007
  • Member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry since 2005
  • Member of the Costa Rican Board of Dentistry since 1996
  • Doctor in Dental Surgery, Universidad de Costa Rica 1996
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