These High-Tech Dentist Tools Are Changing the Way Dentistry is Done
When it comes to quality dental care, using state-of-the-art dental technology matters. With the advancements of technology, dental practitioners are presented with many options of high-tech tools that are providing better treatment and preventative care for patients.
These advanced dentist tools allow practitioners to work faster with better precision and help reduce the patient’s recovery time. Those that dread going to the dentist might be surprised with less invasive, extensive, and painful experiences because of these high-tech tools.
Whether you’re a dental practitioner in search of the best dental technology or are simply interested in what a practitioner might use in their practice, here are the top 9 high-tech tools that are changing the way dentistry is done.
1. Digital X-ray technology
Traditional X-ray technology has proven to be effective when it comes to detecting dental health concerns. However, using digital X-ray technology proves to be even more efficient and effective. Because of this, the majority of dental practices have already switched to this more proficient way of capturing dental images.
Why the switch? Traditional X-ray devices use bitewings containing film that need to be developed the same way that film from a camera does in order to produce images. This requires time and uses chemicals that are hard to dispose of.
In contrast, digital X-rays use sensors inserted in the section of the mouth that needs to be captured. The sensors pick up the image and transmit it immediately to the computer. This capability saves time and allows dentists to view the images in a timely way.
By using digital X-ray technology, patients get faster treatment and are exposed to less radiation compared to the traditional X-ray. Additionally, because everything is done digitally, there is no need to use environmentally harmful chemicals to produce the image.1
2. 3D Imaging
Digital X-ray technology primarily produces 2D images. However, there are digital X-ray scanners that have 3D-imaging capabilities as well. This means that dental practitioners can view more than just teeth and bone. By using 3D imaging, they are able to get a well-defined view of nerves, roots, and other soft tissues. This is possible through the use of a cone beam CT scanner technology.
3D imaging provides similar benefits that come from using digital X-ray technology and more.
Here are the benefits that 3D imaging offers:
- Shortens amount of visits for necessary care
- Gives immediate and accurate results
- Assists in giving an effective treatment plan for patients
- Provides ability to view various perspectives and depths of scans
- Reveals hard-to-find potential disease and deterioration that wouldn’t have shown up on 2D scans
- Is an accurate guide for surgeons to use before and during surgical procedures2
3. 3D dental printing
3D printing technology uses specific materials to create dental implants, models, and tools, all of which are customized for each patient.
Here are some examples of what 3D printing can do:
- Dental molds
- Surgical guides and more3
Dentists can customize all of these things through the printer’s 3D scanner. By scanning the patient’s teeth, the printer has an accurate image to be able to print what’s needed specifically for that patient. Additionally, 3D printing can be done in-house, saving time and money for the provider and patient.4
4. Surgical robotic assistance
Some may hesitate to use robotic technology for surgical procedures, thinking it is working independently from the surgeon. However, the robotic device acts as a guide for the surgeon, navigating them throughout surgery. As a result, there is little risk with using this method.
How does it work? The surgeon first creates a surgical procedure plan by using the robotic device and 3D scanning technology. The robot will display on its screen a 3D image of the procedure and will use this plan to guide the surgeon during the procedure.
The robot optic lens will detect the slightest movement in the surgeon’s hands, helping them stay on course and avoid causing any damage to sensitive nerves and bone.
What’s also impressive is that the robotic device is capable of adapting to any changes the surgeon needs to make during the procedure, which is a rare capability in robotic technology.
Studies will continue to be conducted to compare robotic technology to traditional methods. The goal is for the surgical robotic device to improve the effectiveness and safety of the patient during the procedure.5 6
5. Laser technology
Introduced in the 1960s and commercialized in 1989, laser technology has been increasingly utilized in recent years. There are various types of lasers used for specific treatments done on soft or hard tissues.
Here are some treatments for which studies show laser technology to be effective:
- Wound healing
- Pain relief
- Cold sore treatment
- Gingivitis treatment
- Crown lengthening
- Teeth whitening
- White spot removal
- Tooth sensitivity
- Benign tumor removal7
There is little risk to using dental laser treatment. However, it’s always important to take precautions and to be aware of potential risks. Dental practitioners use protective wear and equipment for both themselves and patients if needed. Studies indicate the possible risk of damaging tissue during the treatment due to using the wrong power level in the laser device.8
6. Cancer screening devices
Oral cancer is one of the deadliest cancers and one of the hardest to detect in its early stages. This is due to the cancerous lesion being painless and symptoms not appearing to be anything out of the ordinary for patients. By the time the cancer is noticed in its later stages, survival rates greatly drop, which is why catching the cancer earlier on matters significantly.
Most oral cancer lesions can’t be seen without using a screening device. Light-based devices and salivary tests are most commonly used, each one having different variations of devices from which to choose.
- Light-based devices use fluorescence technology, tissue reflectance, and dye to identify any oral abnormalities. These devices are only used to indicate abnormalities, but not to diagnose.
- Salivary tests detect biomarkers in the saliva of the patient, which are indicators of possible malignant lesions found in the body.
- Brush Biopsy is a painless procedure that uses a brushing device to collect a sample of the abnormal lesion in question to determine if it is harmless or not. Studies have shown this type of screening to be highly accurate.
As previously mentioned, these devices are used for screening purposes only, not for diagnosing. As far as which of the many devices to use, they all seem equally effective as long as they are used correctly.9
7. Caries detection devices
Dental caries is a common bacterial disease that causes tooth decay, often referred to as cavities. Traditional devices used to detect caries include radiographs, air tools, and explorer probes. However, there are newer caries devices that are shown to be less invasive and more accurate when detecting the onset of cavities.10
Light fluorescent technology and transillumination technology are used in the wide selection of caries detection devices. Not only do these types of technology provide a less invasive procedure, but they have also shown to detect caries lesions in its earlier stages.11
8. Biomimetic materials
Biomimetic dental materials are materials designed to mimic the properties and layers of a natural tooth. These materials are combined with advanced bonding techniques to treat cavities with minimally invasive drilling. During this process, several layers of biomimetic materials may be added to match the structure of the dentin, which becomes softer and more flexible the deeper it goes.
A 2020 review notes that while biomimetic dentistry has limitations as far as matching the exact structure of a tooth, future advancements in materials, fabrication, and nanotechnology may allow dentists to better simulate the natural tissues of enamel, dentin, cementum, and pulp.12
9. ZYTO technology
ZYTO technology accurately measures the body’s galvanic skin response to gather various types of information about the patient. This is all done through a simple scanning device. ZYTO technology is used in various health and wellness disciplines, including dental care.
Dentists can utilize this technology in their process of assessing the health of teeth and gums. For example, many ZYTO scans include a scan of all the teeth, and you can see which teeth Virtual Items showed up as out of range. Plus, you can also see which balancing Virtual Items—supplements, oils, etc.—brought each specific tooth back into range, or back into balance.
In addition to teeth, ZYTO helps you look at dental health in relation to the rest of the body so you can focus more on holistic care and make decisions that make a greater impact on the client’s wellness.
Achieving better results
These 9 high-tech tools are great resources to have in any practice. For those who are seeking a dental provider, ask questions about the types of resources and tools they use. This will assist in finding care that will give you better results that will benefit your overall health in the end.
1. Santik, David. “Traditional X-Rays vs Digital X-Rays: Is One Better?” dmsdmd.com.
2. “3D Dental Imaging”. Stanford Dental. standforddental.com.
3. “Digital Dentistry: 5 Ways 3D Printing has Redefined the Dental Industry”. Formlabs Dental Blog. dental.formlabs.com.
4. “How 3D Printing Is Revolutionizing Dentistry.” Angela Evanson DDS. Evansondds.com
5. Coutre, Lydia. “Drilling into the future of robot-assisted dentistry.” Modern Healthcare. Modernhealthcare.com.
6. Barger, Vanessa S. “New high-tech tools are making dentistry faster, more effective and less painful.” Connecticut Magazine. Connecticutmag.com.
7. Verma, Sanjeev K., S. Mayeshwari, R.K. Singh, & P.K. Chaudhari. “Laser in dentistry: An innovative tool in modern dental practice.” National Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery 3, no.2 (2012): 124-132.
8. Gotter, Ana. “Are Laser Dental Procedures Better Than Traditional Treatments?” Healthline. Healthline.com.
9. Jones, Trish. “Staying ahead of the grim reaper: Oral cancer screening tools can help save lives.” Dentistry IQ. Dentistryiq.com.
11. “Caries Detection Equipment.” Dental Compare. Dentalcompare.com.
12. Zafar, S. M., F. Amin, et al. “Biomimetic Aspects of Restorative Dentistry Biomaterials.” Biomimetics 5, no. 3 (2020): 34.