Most dental practices in the UK regard themselves as computerised. Patients are familiar with receptionists making appointments, taking details and contacting then via email. They often see their dentist charting their findings on a surgery computer .However, the age of computerisation has changed practically all other elements of dentistry.
Computers help in other ways as well:
Conventional radiographs that have 2D can be misleading and are often insufficient to make an accurate and clear diagnosis. We are now able to take 3D radiographs which enable us to see inside the tooth or bone, thus allowing for more diagnostic accuracy.
This has been around for a while but now enhanced with digital technology we can show patients exactly what the issues are within their dentition. Examples of this maybe an area they are missing with their toothbrush or a small lesion on a tooth, which is in danger of developing a cavity.
Computer aided injection techniques
Although there has been a lot of progression within dentistry, one aspect still remains to unsettle patients and that is the prospect of painful injections. Computer aided injection techniques (the wand) are virtually painless and do not require the usual large hypodermic needle. The local anaesthetic solution is delivered extremely slowly reducing the pain and numbness does not profoundly affect the entire face.
It is now possible to scan teeth rather than take impressions of them. This can be very helpful for patients who have a gag reflex. The scanned impression can be sent to the laboratory for a crown, or even milled within the dental practice. High end crowns and exacting aesthetic situations will still require normal impressions but as the technology improves we are sure that this will become a thing of the past.
Computer aided treatment
There are some situations where very precise drilling procedures are required. This is often the case with dental implants. The 3D scan allow us to avoid extensive bone grafting, and can even result in a key hole form of treatment. This technology can be used to provide same day prosthesis. Imagine walking into a dental practice without any teeth and walking out with a full arch of beautiful functioning teeth supported by implants.
We can use computers to analyse a patients existing smile. This helps identify any irregularities and will allow us to outline to our technicians what a patient wants to enhance or change. Patients can see the “before” and “after” prior to treatment. Orthodontic treatment can now be rehearsed using digital radiographs and models. By being more accurate with the placement of the braces on the teeth, tooth movement is quicker and more precise. This can shorten treatment times.
There is virtually no area of dentistry that is not affected by computers, and imaging software.
Article by David Guppy at the Mayhill Dental & Specialist Centre in Monmouth 01600 712020