The new advances in dentistry are going to be game changing.
Dentistry has come a long way from the days when dental drills were considered “cutting edge” technology. In the 20th Century, we saw some great advances that allowed dentists to employ more refined, safer techniques in their work. What modern technological marvels await you in the 21st Century?
Here are a handful of examples of technological innovations that will change the way you think about dentists, and dentistry in this brave new world:
Mini robots in your mouth? Sounds crazy but these are actually being tested and developed by researchers. These microbots are essentially very tiny robots that are about the size of bacteria. There are a number of potential applications of this technology and they are poised to revolutionize a number of fields including dentistry. In fact, a team of engineers, biologists, and dentists at the University of Pennsylvania have shown that it could soon be possible to have your dental plaque removed by a swarm of microbots.
How is this better? Well, for one thing, employing microbots is non-invasive which means you won’t need to sit in a dentist’s chair with your mouth kept uncomfortably open while your dentist uses conventional tools to remove plaque. Plus, microbots are a lot more precise and can easily get into those “hard to reach” places in your teeth. This not only means a better job done, but time saved as dental plaque removal via microbots will take a significantly less amount of time than conventional techniques.
We are still a little ways off before this technology becomes widely available to the mass market but this breakthrough is really something to look forward to. Can you just imagine visiting your dentist and not having to endure an hour or more of prodding and scraping?
At the moment, Artificial Intelligence, or AI, in your day-to-day life might just be asking Siri to find directions, or Amazon to help suggest products that you might like. But from automated customer support to smart cars and even healthcare, AI is definitely here to stay.
Although dentistry may not seem like a likely place for AI, it does make sense when you consider that the key is to all of this is data.
Every step in the dental treatment and oral care cycle generates an abundance of data– from teeth impressions to x-rays and scans. Such a wealth of data makes AI a natural “fit” in making sense of it all for the dentist.
One clear example of this is in tooth decay detection. Your dentist can typically view over a dozen sets of bitewing radiographs (those black-and-white images of your teeth) on a daily basis. These are SUPER important tools to detect cavities and bone loss.
But imagine if you could use artificial intelligence to comb through these sets instead of just a quick view by your dentist? Remember that each set of radiographs has multiple images and so AI could do the task of deep viewing and analysis, showing up fine details or potential issues that your dentist could potentially miss.
The one use of AI in dentistry could increase the number of data sets that could be processed, increase the rate of early detection and free up your dentist to focus on treatment and prevention.
No argument, 3D (three-dimensional) printing is nothing short of revolutionary. Imagine being able to “print” three-dimensional tools to perform highly-specialized tasks, or print out prosthetic limbs that are tailored to the exact dimensions of the end user?
Pretty amazing, huh? Now imagine being able to do that for dental crowns, dentures, mouth guards, dental aligners and more. And these would all be super custom fitted for each unique mouth!
3D printing has become one of the fastest-growing developments in the dental industry and has the potential to really shake things up as dentists could fabricate many things “in-house.” This would not only cut costs but it would mean quicker repairs as the patient would no longer have to wait for something to “come back from the lab.” And with lower costs and quicker turnarounds, people would be more likely to get needed repairs done rather than put them off or ignore them.
There are some possible drawbacks in dental 3D printing, such as limitations in materials that can be used, but these could be solved by future technological advances and refinements. However, it is pretty safe to say that the potential benefits from 3D printing in dentistry will be nothing short of game-changing.
A toothbrush equipped with sensors and Bluetooth might seem like overkill or just a sales gimmick but think again.
It is a fact that the regular “dumb” electronic toothbrushes have already been proven to be far better at removing plaque than old school manual toothbrushes.
Now, let’s up the game so that your toothbrush could do things like monitor how long you actually brush the different areas of your mouth? Or analyze your brushing technique by measuring how much pressure you apply when brushing and even the angle you holding your brush at?
Collecting, and analyzing, these data points can actually do wonders in improving your the efficiency of your toothbrushing, and your oral health as a whole.
So, what is a smart toothbrush? It is essentially a toothbrush that is equipped with sensors that capture data and then feed it via Bluetooth to an app on your phone. Together with the app, it keeps track things like your brushing history and your overall brushing technique. Taking these data points, it can help you refine your brushing technique–think of it like having your very own “dental coach” right in the palm of your hand!
Now, armed with all of this information, you can more easily adjust your brushing habits and technique to target specific oral health problems your dentist may have told you about.
Smart toothbrushes take a lot of the “guesswork” out of toothbrushing, and allow you to finetune things to best suit your specific dental needs. Try getting that from a regular “dumb” toothbrush!
Perhaps probiotics hardly seem “cutting edge technology” considering how they have been used to improve digestive health for centuries. Or just considering that beneficial bacteria have been a part of our existence for countless eons–so they hardly count as “breaking news.”
But the use of oral probiotics in dentistry is quite revolutionary as it is a shift from the “kill all bacteria” approach to one of restoring a naturally healthy environment in the oral cavity that actually promotes good oral health by using bacteria. A healthy bacterial balance in your mouth creates an ongoing environment that supports the fight against cavities and gum disease as well as discourages the formation of plaque.
It is a relatively new development and more studies are definitely needed but so far the evidence supports that the ongoing use of oral probiotics have multiple benefits such as helping to manage gingivitis and decrease inflammation caused by gum disease. There is even research that suggests that Lactobacillus salivarius could reduce the risk of developing oral cancer.