As a notable Florida dentist, we try to keep up with the most cutting-edge dental technology. This last year has seen its share of technological advances. Many dentists have taken to doing consultations remotely, and others are looking at different ways of interacting with clients. We have also spent a lot of our time, ensuring that our staff and clientele remains safe during this uncertain time. Technology gives us hope that we might provide a safer, more efficient office for our clients in the future. The future of dentistry is still uncertain, but there are many new advances that we’ve seen that make us sit up and take notice. Here, we’ll examine those recent advances and offer our opinions on what it means for your future in the dental chair.
1. The Intraoral Scanner
The journal BMC Oral Health notes that intraoral scanners are used for capturing direct optical impressions. At its heart, the intraoral scanner is a 3D scanner. It projects a beam of light into the patient’s mouth and scans for all the details inside there. Using that information, specialized software can create a detailed 3D model of a patient’s teeth so that the dentist can examine it. This technology is still in its early stages, but it offers a lot of promise for the future. Because of the wavelength of light and the software’s interpolation algorithms, they may be more accurate representations of your teeth than your Florida dentist could create at current.
They’re likely to see a lot of use as a method of creating crowns and veneers. Dentists can send models over to manufacturers to make custom molds that are designed to fit perfectly. Another valid case is that, given the nature of social distancing, it may allow for more accurate telemedicine since dentists can inspect details within patients’ mouths without being present. The technology currently has a lot of development to go through, even though it is already commercially available. However, it has a steep learning curve and costs a lot to purchase and maintain. It may be some time before we notice these scanners as a standard fixture in dental offices.
2. 3D Printers
We mentioned previously that Intraoral Scanners could collect data to help create veneers and crowns, custom made to fit your mouth. What if the dentist didn’t have to send the designs out, but could 3D print a copy of the veneer or crown and install it immediately? 3D printers are already working in several different industries. Frontiers for Young Minds mentions that dentists can use 3D printers in several other ways, aside from just printing read-made custom crowns or veneers. They can even develop specialized tools to help with surgery, root canals, or even repositioning teeth.
The immediate benefits of 3D printing are apparent. There’s no lag-time between ordering and receiving prosthetics since they can be printed on-demand. The price of ordering and developing these prosthetics or custom tools will also be more manageable to dentists. Dentists and patients stand to save a lot of money by incorporating these tools into a Florida dentist practice. However, 3D printers are still slightly expensive. A dentist needs to learn how to use it properly before turning it into something viable for their professional practice. Some of the resins used in these 3D manufacturing processes are also quite expensive, meaning extra costs in the short term. While we expect to see 3D printers become a significant part of future dental offices, it’s still a bit prohibitive to consider them as something we’d see today.
3. Cloud Storage and Remote Processing
Thanks to this last year’s unfortunate circumstances, we’ve seen several reasons why companies need to be more resilient when it comes to remote working and access to data. The pandemic caused many dental practices to start offering services remotely, but it forced many of us to take stock of how we deal with records. While newer offices have upgraded to digital documents (who uses filing cabinets anymore?), these soft copies were stores on our local computers in the office. Since we could not access them during shelter-in-place orders, many of us had to work with makeshift digital record systems.
The cloud offers us a lot of promise for remote access to digital records. It even allows a Florida dentist to access their patients’ details even if they’re in a conference elsewhere. Automated backups mean that there’s less chance of losing important data if you have a power outage. Cloud data storage is already a thing in some practices, and many dentists are moving their entire billing and invoicing departments onto the cloud server. Data security on these servers is tight, keeping patient records safe and confidentiality intact. Even clerical workers and administrative assistants can access these records with authorization, allowing them to safely work from home. Cloud storage is a case of the future happening today.
4. Advanced Visualization
This one sounds too fantastic to be real, but hear us out. If you’ve read about modern tech recently, you’d have spotted companies producing virtual reality headsets. While we haven’t gotten to that point of being advanced as yet, a Florida dentist can still access some pretty neat tech for getting a look at their patients’ craniofacial structures up close and in detail. The Compendium of Continued Education in Dentistry mentions a technique using fiber-optic transillumination (FOTI) for tooth evaluation. FOTI is a well-known method of examining cavities in patients to help with their treatment, but its use may extend even further in the future.
X-rays are also a common imaging method used in dentistry, but standard x-rays haven’t changed significantly in years. There has been some research involved in taking x-rays into the third dimension and offering dentists a chance to look at 3D images of a patient’s oral structures. The World Journal of Radiology mentions that 3D imaging will make access to and examination of oral structures far easier for dentists in the future. Some of these technologies have already been implemented, but they remain on the fringes of the industry. More dentists will see the need for adopting these new practices with time. Soon, a 3D x-ray for your teeth will seem like a regular procedure.
Teledentistry has seen a massive spike in popularity because of the current situation. It was already a standard practice before the pandemic set in. Dentists would use it as a measure to deal with patients with disabilities. Or many would use it with hose who lived in remote areas unreachable by a dentist regularly. With calling systems readily available to dentists today, teledentistry is likely to be more convenient in the future. Already, dentists are scheduling their appointments from home, making it less of a hassle to deal with patients. The future will lead to more efficient dentist visits, without a doubt.
Today’s Florida Dentist Practices
Many of these technological advances are a little way off from being implemented. But many of them have made their way into practices around the country. A Florida dentist that doesn’t have a cloud database, for example, will find themselves lagging behind the rest of their colleagues. At Anderson Dental Lake Worth, we like thinking about the future. We also live in the present and provide support for our clients with the cutting edge technology at our disposal. Give us a call today, and let’s make your next dental appointment with one of the best dentists in Florida!