Dentistry in the Digital Age
Technology has changed nearly every aspect of human life and modern society. New tools, programs, and education can greatly improve your healthcare, too! Let’s say you need any kind of standard dental restoration for a cracked or missing tooth. From x-rays and impressions to surgery and installation, your whole treatment could be digital. We’re so used to digital tools these days, you may not even notice how much technology a dentist can utilize to best serve your oral health needs. Below are some of the ways your oral care may be digitized.
Short for computer-assisted design and computer-assisted manufacturing, this software brings you better-fitting crowns, veneers, inlays and onlays, and bridges. CAD/CAM technology comes out of industrial engineering and manufacturing and into the dental office to provide faster, superior products and services in oral health. Using computers to design oral appliances increases accuracy, efficiency, appearance, and function.
CAD/CAM dental services start with 3D images. The computer takes the images and creates a model of whatever restorative appliance you need. Research shows that dental restorations made with CAD/CAM technology are stronger and less likely to break. This is great news if you’re already dealing with oral health issues and you just want everything to look natural and work well.
Thanks to CAD/CAM technology, you can now get many dental restorations placed in just one visit to the dental office. This is good news for busy people! All crowns, veneers, and onlays need to actually be created and shaped out of porcelain or composite. After using digital images to get a picture of your mouth, the information will be sent to a machine that can automatically create a natural-looking restoration on the spot.
The machine can usually make these in about 20 minutes. The milling machine may also glaze or stain the porcelain to best match your natural teeth. Like clay pottery, the porcelain or composite then needs to be fired. All of this should take anywhere from one to two hours. You can walk into the dentist toothless and walk out with a full, vibrant smile the same day.
Surgical guides are 3D computer images that your dentist may use to improve the accuracy and safety of having dental implants placed. Not everyone is a good candidate for implants, but if your dentist believes you are, they may also use a surgical guide during your procedure.
A surgical guide uses digital images to give us a realistic picture of your jawbones, gums, nerves, and more. A computer will help your San Luis Obispo dentist plan the whole procedure so that each step and measurement is more accurate. With all of this important information, dentists can work faster so you’re in the chair less (as much as we love to see you).
When your doctor or dentist needs to see beyond the naked eye, they can use one of many different x-ray and imaging technologies. Cone-beam images are 3D scans that use cone-shaped laser beams to get a complete scan of your entire mouth. Cone beams use more radiation than a standard dental x-ray, but far less than a standard medical CT scan. Cone-beam images especially help with placement and installation of dental implants.
Electronic Booking & Billing
Gone are the days of endless stacks of paper you need to keep track of and store. Gone are the days of being on hold with a receptionist. Many dental offices now make use of email and online programs to communicate with patients both for billing and making new appointments.
Now, everything you need to know about your oral care can be kept in one place to easily see and understand. Nothing can replace the friendly and professional environment of a good dental office, but digital communication helps ensure that you, your dentist, and the insurance providers are all on the same page. So when you walk in for your appointment, things should flow seamlessly and with no surprises.
Finding a Digital Dentist
An everyday visit to the dentist looks a lot different today than it has in decades past. The services you need may require any or all of the above technology to provide quality care and favorable outcomes.
At Michael Colleran, DDS, we are always learning more about how to use technology to better serve you. Make an appointment today to learn more about what we can do for you and your smile!
The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.