Modern technology has transformed the dental experience for patients across the globe today. Everything is done so quickly that it becomes almost impossible to find the time to feel apprehensive about any individual procedure.
Today's dental professionals have access to incredible tools of the trade that not only take away some of the pain often associated with sitting in the dentist's chair, but they also streamline the experience so that it takes less time than it has in the past. Here's a look at some of the modern marvels of dentistry and what they mean for you, the patient.
Shaped like a pen, an intra-oral camera is slender enough to fit comfortably inside the mouth. It is used to take 3D images that assist your dentist in coming up with an appropriate treatment plan for whatever dental issues you might have. The intra-oral pen is connected to a computer screen, allowing both the patient and the dentist to view each of the images, which can be rotated to provide new perspectives that can be useful in planning treatment. This high-powered device makes it possible for patients and their dentist to view areas of the mouth that are typically difficult to see otherwise.
One of the newest advancements used in dentistry today, CAD/CAM procedures completely transform the process needed to design and manufacture a dental crown, filling, fixed bridge, or porcelain veneer. This technology streamlines the repair of broken or damaged teeth, making it possible to complete necessary work in a single day, completely eliminating the need for second and third visits.
Your dentist must first prepare your tooth to receive the computer-generated filling or crown. He removes all signs of decay and preps the tooth properly for the next step. Your dentist or dental assistant uses an intra-oral camera to take a set of images of the tooth needing repair. These images are used to help design the filling or crown so that it is a perfect fit.
Depending on the type of restoration involved, your dentist, with your assistance, designs an inlay, onlay, or crown that fits perfectly not only with the tooth involved, but also with the teeth next to, above, or below the restoration. This process can take a few moments. Once the design has been perfected, it is sent for fabrication, which takes place in an on-site milling station designed for this purpose. In less than ten minutes, your crown or filling is ready for placement and permanent cementing. It is stronger than traditional restorations and lasts much longer.
CAD/CAM technology can also be used for the fabrication of fixed bridges. The process is the same as that used to create a dental crown. However, it will take more time to complete the process since more than one tooth is being prepped and designed.
In addition to taking less time than traditional methods used to create dental crowns, fillings, bridges, and veneers, the process used to craft your dental restorations is less messy. You don't need to put up with the gooey stuff that is used to make impressions with traditional methodology. You also don't need to worry about dried goo on your teeth or lips, so there's virtually no cleanup needed when using CAD/CAM technology.
For many dental patients, the most important aspect of computer assisted design is the fact that you only need one visit to accomplish the entire task. There's no need to take off extra time from work or arrange for a sitter twice for a single procedure. Instead, you get to come into the office with a damaged or decayed tooth or the need for a fixed bridge or veneers, and you get to leave on that same day with a brand new look for the tooth in question.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of using CAD/CAM procedures to repair a tooth is that you can eat anything you want right away. With temporary restorations, you always have to exercise caution when you eat, avoiding sticky foods and baked goods such as breads, bagels, and soft pretzels, in order to avoid accidentally pulling out your temporary crown. With computer generated fabrications, the tooth is permanently repaired and you can treat it just like one of your natural teeth right away!
Used primarily to treat cavities that are small or to repair older fillings located in hard-to-reach places, air abrasion techniques allow your dentist to preserve as much of the existing tooth structure as possible. Tiny pellets containing aluminum oxide and air are used to remove decay instead of the traditional dental drill. Air abrasion can also be used to prep a tooth for a replacement restoration. It's a nice way to avoid going under the dentist's drill, even if not getting a cavity would be better strategy.
CEREC stands for “Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics.” In brief, it simply means that dental patients can obtain a fast, pain-free restoration for one or more teeth in one visit to their dentists due to modern advancements in dental technology.
CEREC allows dentists to restore damaged teeth in a single day using cutting-edge technology provided by a specialized machine (CEREC) that is designed for this purpose. The CEREC device is used to create a tooth restoration (inlay, onlay, veneer, crown, or bridge) using the 3D image created by your dentist using CAD/CAM technology.
The 3D image is converted into the 3D model that is needed to fabricate your restoration. Once your dentist has access to the 3D model, he uses the CERC milling machine to create the restoration. A ceramic block, which has been matched to the existing color of your teeth, is placed into the machine and milled until it resembles the 3D model. This newly designed restoration is first polished to ensure that its surface is smooth, and then, your dentist bonds it permanently to your tooth. The whole process takes less than an hour, and the CEREC machine is most commonly used to create crowns in a single day.
Dr. Michael Layton (DDS) is a dentist in South Surrey for how own practice, Peace Arch Dental Centre. He has been in the dental industry for the last decade and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington. Dr. Layton is also an instructor for Progressive Orthodontics and Dentistry. He takes pride in providing positive and caring dental solutions for people of every walk of life. You can follow him on Google+.