The future of dentistry
Dentistry like many fields in medicine is fast evolving. On the main changes within the profession is a move to a digital workflow. But what does this actually mean? In simple term the use of technology to enhance the dentist’s treatment of their patient. This can be from planning to the final delivery of the actual dentistry.
Many different tools have been used in the treatment planning aspect. Certain apps and software allow the dentist to show the patient simulation of the final result before any actual treatment is carried out. This is useful for patients and informs the dentist about the likelihood of an acceptable result being achieved. In these cases, the communication between the patient and the professional is improved and a valid discussion can take place regarding the treatment proposal.
Showing a patient a photo of them wearing their new proposed smile is invaluable. This is, in essence, a facially driven smile design. There are many complex programmes that can achieve this and one of the most common and straightforward to use is the DSD app. By using readily available mobile devices such as an iPhone and the use of specific dental digital scanners (eg Cerec, Trios) then a plan can be provided to the patient. Taking this one step further 3D printed models can be fabricated and an actual trail smile can be provided. The patient then wears this to give them an idea of how things look and feel in a more dynamic situation. Changes to the design are simple to carry out at this stage and it all informs the professionals of the treatment to provide the final proposed result.
It is now possible to construct teeth using various Cad Cam processes. In fact, most restorations in dentists will be made this way. In the digital field, a 3D intraoral scan (DIOS) is taken of the patient’s mouth. This is serious of pictures which give an accurate representation of the patient’s mouth and teeth. Compare this to the traditional method of impression taking, which is often rather messy and sometimes inaccurate. This scan is then transferred to the dental technician who works on the scan and designs the new prosthetic teeth to the dentists prescription. In fact, to allows easy communication between these two professionals. The technician then constructs new prosthetic teeth via a milling machine, making teeth (milled) from solid blocks of a porcelain type material or 3D printing the necessary components.
Whilst many software such as DSD app make the digital process accessible there is still a considerable amount of equipment required and a steep learning curve for those involved. 3D printers are ideal such as those made by Formlabs and are now routinely used in dental practice. They have shown to be accurate and cost-effective.
Digital intraoral scanners have become more commonplace and those combined with an in-practice milling machine such as Cerec are convenient for both the professional and patient. It is now possible to restore teeth in as little as 2 hours. By taking an intraoral scan and then designing a new prosthetic tooth and milling it straight away the patient is provided with a new tooth immediately without the need for a second appointment or wearing temporary teeth for a prolonged time period.
Digital dentistry is here and is predictable and is a nice, easier process for the patient.