Nashville’s Dental Innovations: What the Future Holds for Oral Healthcare
October 26, 2023 Dental care has come a long way over the centuries. Have you ever wondered what the future holds? The first book about dentistry came out in 1530. “The Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth” This German book is available online, but not easy to read without knowing German. The first English dental textbook came out in 1685. “Operator for the Teeth” provided recipes like powdered coral, rosewater, and sedum to keep teeth clean and white. The author, Charles Allen, also recommended that a child’s gums get cut to allow teeth to get through the gums. Another unusual tip was that teeth from sheep or dogs were recommended to replace missing teeth in humans. As history progressed, dental innovations continued to change the world of dentistry. Elephant, hippo, and walrus ivory were carved into dentures, aka “Waterloo teeth.” Eventually, dentists moved to porcelain, but the portion fitting onto the gums was also made from porcelain, so it wasn’t ideal. It’s hard to imagine what else is in store when you look at how far dentistry has come. But, even in recent years, there have been big advancements. Dentists used to rely on metal scraping tools to remove plaque. The invention of sonic waves and water for breaking up hard calculus deposits made dental cleanings easier for patients. Here are some of the dental innovations in the works.
Simple Changes to Standard Dental Tools For hygienists who hold mirrors and other dental tools all day long, the standard metal handle becomes challenging to hold with the required pinch grip. One dentist realized that ergonomic dental tools were long overdue. She came out with a line of star-grip tools with padding for comfort. Sometimes, dental innovations don’t have to be based on the latest technology, it can be simply taking something that’s been used for decades and making it better.
Teledentistry Reached More Patients in Need During the pandemic, telemedicine gained ground. Teledentistry is no different. It makes it possible for dentists to talk to patients and determine how quickly someone must be seen or if there are treatments from home that will take care of the problem. For example, a patient’s child falls and puts a tooth through the lip. It’s terrifying for the parent, but it’s not always something a dentist needs to treat. If the tooth doesn’t come loose, chances are the wound through the lip will heal without intervention. A parent could show the wound to the dentist and get instructions without having to leave the home. If a dental visit is recommended, information is already being collected, so the appointment goes faster. Another benefit has been in getting children in rural areas who are not near a dental practice. Children get used to talking to a dentist and showing off their teeth before they’re able to get to a dentist’s office. Teledentistry is also helpful for triaging after-hours emergencies with all ages.
Laser Dentistry Eases the Risk of Infection and Slow-Healing Incisions Lasers are gaining ground in dental practices. Instead of a lot of cutting and skin removal that increases the risk of infection, lasers are exact and less invasive. Laser dentistry is used for removing damaged or diseased gum tissue or sores/lesions within the mouth.
Handheld Cameras for Full Oral Inspections Intraoral cameras are small, hand-held cameras dentists use to inspect areas of the mouth that are typically hard to reach. They’re instrumental during exams to identify signs of oral cancer or gum inflammation.
3D Printing Provides Faster Restorations and Dental Devices Traditionally, dentists had to take molds and send things like bridges, implants, and crowns to a lab for design and creation. With 3D printing, those days are over. Dentists can upload the necessary data to the printer from molds and the replacement tooth, crown, etc., is printed right then, often within a day. As it’s a faster process, patients don’t have to wait weeks to return, which is important when discomfort is present. Think about something like veneers where your tooth’s surface is prepared, a mold is made and a temporary veneer is placed to protect your tooth. The veneer is created in a lab and sent back to the dentist when it’s ready. This can take upwards of three weeks. Instead, you have digital impressions completed and the dentist prints the veneer on a 3D printer that day. Return a day later to have it affixed. It’s much faster and more convenient when you have a busy schedule and find it hard to get days off.
Skip the Gooey Molds and Get Digital Impressions Another major advancement is the end of the trays filled with unpleasant gooey materials. The trays themselves are uncomfortable for patients, but sitting still with a tray in the mouth and not moving isn’t ideal. Digital impressions are quickly growing in popularity. These detailed images of teeth and gums within the jawline are easily captured and transferred to dental software that can design the necessary dental device or restoration. Connect the software to a 3D printer for a lot of time-saving dental work. As it’s much more accurate, the replacement tooth, crown, or bridge is correct the first time and doesn’t require adjustment or making it again after another round of impressions. You save time and experience a stress-free dental visit.
Artificial Intelligence Analyzes Information Accurately and in Little Time The use of AI in dentistry is another advancement worth talking about. AI can be incorporated into reading X-rays and CT scans and use the information to analyze it against a patient’s entire medical history. AI algorithms process and analyze data much faster than a human can, and that leads to diagnoses that are accurate and provide the best possible treatment plans for positive outcomes. The benefits of AI are numerous, but one area that’s being talked about is the use of AI to diagnose gum disease and tooth decay before the signs are clear. This makes it possible to treat oral health issues before they become big health issues. No matter what future innovations in dentistry are available, they’re not a replacement for seeing your dentist for regular cleanings. Even if you have dental anxiety, you need to find a way to power through the appointment. Twice a year, a cleaning and exam is important, and Dr. Jody Jones in Nashville is one of the best for anxious patients. Don’t let past experiences create a jaded view of dental exams. Today’s dental practices are armed with tools that make an appointment less stressful. Take care of your teeth and ask Jody Jones, DDS about sedation dentistry if your fear is so bad, you simply cannot imagine sitting through a dental appointment.