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Is Digital Dentistry The Future? Yes, and It Is Already Here!

March 30, 2023

Digitization is finding its way into all aspects of life, and dentistry has not escaped the advancements. Thus, dentists are slowly accepting digital advancements and are investing in modern tools, techniques, and technology to help their clients the best they can. Let’s discuss the main benefits of digital dentistry, what it involves, and what it can do for your patients.

What Involves Digital Dentistry?

When we talk about digital dentistry, we mean a broad term encompassing any dental technology that includes computer-aided hardware and software. These are all the techniques that are performed using digital instruments like intraoral scanners, CAD/CAM modeling, computer-aided milling or 3D printing, CT scans, shade matching, etc.

However, digital radiography is also a part of digital dentistry, as are computer-aided implant dentistry, color matching, dental lasers, and more. There are even advanced digital dentistry methods that use optical, radiation-free methods that can detect the early stages of caries and help prevent a problem before it happens.

One of the most used fields of digital dentistry is in prosthetic work, more precisely in making impressions, restorations, and analyses that provide much more precise and efficient results than traditional methods.

Intraoral scanners like TryGreat are excellent examples of digital dentistry tools that are already in widespread use. These provide the dentist with advanced scans and 3D models that are exponentially more precise and forgo the use to need traditional impression putty. By combining the results from the intraoral scanning and CAD/CAM modeling, the virtual reality images provide the exact model of the teeth that must be fit for a specific patient.

The scans obtained with the intraoral scanner help the dentist view the patient’s dental situation from different angles that were not possible before or cannot be seen in the patient. We are talking about things like tooth size, root depth, tooth angle, and the assessment of its location with the other teeth. Each of these helps the dentist to better fit the patient with an implant, a mouth guard, a retainer, or a clear aligner, reducing chair time and resulting in satisfied patients.

Main Benefits of Digital Dentistry Methods

Now that we know what digital dentistry involves, it is time to outline the main benefits a dental practice and any dental patient can have using these digital methods:

Creating a Painless Digital Scan

The intraoral scanners and other digital imaging techniques help the dentist create a painless, contactless digital scan of the patient’s dentures, thus forgoing the need to use the impression putty that is messy, uncomfortable, and long. Instead, the intraoral scanners create an accurate digital scan that provides a perfect model the doctor can assess and suggest future procedures. Also, the scans can be rotated, reoriented, and enlarged, helping the dentist see the minutest details and propose a better treatment plan.

Creating Natural-Looking Implants

Should the patient need dental implants like crowns, bridges, implants or some sort of prosthetic aid, the digital intraoral scanner makes this a breeze. The scans are obtained in almost real-time, where the necessary implant is blended with the shape and color of your natural teeth, and there is no apparent difference between the natural teeth and the implants. It makes the patients happier and more confident, which is a huge benefit for the patient and the dentist.

Creating Dental Implants That Fit Perfectly

When you create and install dental implants in a patient that were created using a digital intraoral scanner, you can rest assured that the fits will be almost perfect. While effective at the time, the traditional implant measuring techniques often caused patient sensitivity due to poor fit, which is now a thing of the past with advanced digital dentistry techniques. The intraoral scans and the CAD/CAM models created after these scans are precise and eliminate the need for remakes or corrections. In some cases, dental practices that use intraoral scanners like Great have reported up to a 90% reduction in remakes.

Restoring the Patient’s Smile

Restoring the smile is one of the most significant benefits of using advanced digital dentistry techniques like intraoral scanners. The scanner provides an accurate measure of the patient’s teeth with exact color matching, resulting in a happier patient who will be proud to show off their smile.

Digital Dentistry Downsides

While digital dentistry techniques are impressive in delivering advanced scans that can help patients in many ways, there are some downsides to using digital dentistry methods. The main one is the cost of digital dentistry technology, which makes many dental practices reluctant to include these in their daily work. However, companies like Great have solved this problem by providing a free intraoral scanner to dental practices in Ireland and the UK, who have decided to partner with Great.

Add Image from the Great scanner

Another downside is the lack of appeal to learn and adapt to new technologies; many dentists, especially the older generation, have issues using new techniques as they lack the desire to learn new things or misunderstand the technology or its actual benefits. Great solves this issue by providing continuous training for the members of the dental practice, educating and keeping the team up to date with all software updates.

How to Adapt to the Future of Dentistry?

We believe that the future of dentistry is digital, and it is already here. While many dental practices have turned to invest in digital dentistry methods, there are also many who have not taken the leap and are still working with traditional techniques that are slowly becoming obsolete.

That is why we believe that to really grasp the digital dentistry approach and experience the benefits first-hand, more comprehensive training in digital dentistry should be put in place during the education and training of future dentists, as digital dentistry methods are already here, and they are here to say.

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