According to the American Dental Association, more than one in five adults have not visited a dentist in over three years. Some patients experience dental anxiety and are scared to visit the dentist, others have trouble finding the right time or place for a check-up. With the use of new technology, more dentists are able to distract anxious patients, improve accuracy in treatments, and maximize healing in dental implants to replace missing teeth. By offering shorter and more efficient procedures, and less stressful treatments, it is easier for dentists to build a good relationship with their patients and provide the individual care that they need.
Virtual Reality Calms Anxious Children
According to Eschenbach Dental, regular visits to the dentist from an early age are important for good oral health. However, dental anxiety is common in children and can make even a simple check-up a challenging experience; so to help overcome anxiety in the dental clinic, the use of virtual reality (VR) has been proven to be effective in distracting children’s attention away from unpleasant procedures. Showing children a cartoon through a VR headset can also decrease anxiety and pain during anesthetic injections or treatment for cavities, helping dentists to increase cooperation and build trust with their younger patients.
Teledentistry Reaches More Patients
While some patients are nervous to visit the dentist, others such as the elderly or those who live in remote locations are not always able to attend an appointment in person. For these patients, teledentistry offers them the opportunity to receive dental care and advice remotely. This can be achieved through a range of systems including a simple telephone call, the transmission of recorded information such as impressions or photographs, or using audio-visual technology to conduct a two-way interaction or examination. Even for regular patients who are able to attend a dental clinic, teledentistry can be used to easily check in on a patient or offer guidance following treatment. Teledentistry has also been particularly useful during recent months as it has enabled patients and dentists to comply with social distancing measures and reduce the risk of spreading infection.
Robotics Increase in Accuracy in Procedures
To further enhance the services provided by dental practitioners, AI is increasingly being employed in the field of dentistry. The use of robotics can increase precision during dental procedures including the implantation of dental prostheses. Precision is so important because, if implants are fitted incorrectly, there is a greater chance of poor occlusion, or how the upper and lower teeth make contact together. Other complications can include implants that are poorly spaced or placed at the wrong angle. The first robotic device used for implant surgery in the US, known as YOMI, can physically guide a dentist’s hand through the delicate procedure of implantation. By helping to maintain the right angle and trajectory, any deviation from the planned positioning can be avoided, even if the patient moves during the procedure. The device also incorporates planning software within its system that can be used to ensure the dental implant is placed accurately. This allows for less invasive surgery which not only reduces the time it takes to complete the procedure but also the amount of pain and discomfort experienced by the patient.
3D Printed Implants Improve Healing
As well as improving surgical procedures, new technology such as 3D printing can be used to create personalized orthodontic brackets and more efficient prostheses. By using 3D printing to make dental implants the production process is made quicker, more efficient, and more cost-effective. Innovative materials used to create the implants also improve their appearance and make them more comfortable for the patient. Titanium is a useful metal as it is lightweight but strong enough to bear the mechanical load, and it can also be made into complex shapes. At the same time, sensors for biomarkers integrated into the implants during manufacture can provide feedback to dentists about how well the implant is settling and if there are any complications with the healing process.
Detailed Dental Imaging Improves Diagnosis
As well as using technology to print in three dimensions, dentists can take advantage of 3D cone beam imaging to create detailed scans of a patient’s mouth. Like a conventional x-ray, the image created allows dentists to easily view teeth, soft mouth tissue, bone structure, and nerve pathways, but, because it is 3-dimensional, these elements can be viewed from any angle. 3D dental imaging is useful for planning the position and angle of dental implants as dentists can measure the space available in the jaw more accurately. It can also be used for diagnostic purposes, as it highlights dental cavities, abnormal tooth growth, tumors, or disease, even in the very early stages.
Intraoral Cameras Allow Close Observation
For a better view of teeth in real-time, an intraoral camera captures detailed images of a patient’s mouth that they are also able to see. A digital camera the size of a pen allows a dentist to examine otherwise hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. With up to 100x magnification, it can also enlarge details of small cavities, hairline fractures, and early signs of gum disease that are invisible to the naked eye. While intraoral cameras are not new, recent advances in technology have created lighter and more ergonomic devices that produce higher-quality pictures. The cameras are now fitted with liquid lens technology that can focus quickly like the human eye and, with no moving parts, provides greater resistance to shock and vibration. With a connection to cloud-based storage, images from the examination can be uploaded for both the dentist and patient to review in their own time.
Building a good relationship with their dentist is important in order for patients to receive the best care for their personal needs. The introduction of new technology in dentistry can help to distract anxious patients, enhance the precision of dental treatments, and improve the fitting and healing of dental implants.
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