Monday, February 2, 2009

Technology HUGE at Yankee Dental Conference

As a consumer, you don't see how technology has advanced dentistry -- especially since dentists phase technology (which is pricey) into the dental office over time. Some of the advances you may have witnessed with your own dentist include:

** Moving from film and lightbox x-rays to digital images that dentists can now view on a computer screen.

** Eliminating paper-based records in favor of using software that houses our patients' records (plus the digial imaging files associated with the patient).

** Making crowns chair-side using a CERAC machine versus sending goopy impressions to a lab and then waiting two weeks for the crown to come back.

But one thing you haven't seen is how dentistry has truly moved into the 21st-century due to technology -- and no where was this more evident than at this year's Yankee Dental conference.

As I stood on the exhibit floor, I was awed by the sheer number of companies presenting imaging software and hardware -- digital impressions, CAD/CAM systems and CBCT units dominated the exhibition floor. Every where you looked technology was on display. (To see a good example, view this Sirona GALILEOS video -- GALILEOS is Sirona's new 3D imaging machine.)

All of this technology has revolutionized dentisty -- and has raised the standard of care. Using CBCT scans, for example, a dentist or periodontist can see a patient's facial structure and precisely locate the jaw bone, nasal passageways and airways, and most important, facial nerves. We can see how the jaw opens and shuts and how the jaw fits in relation to cranium and facial structure.


(image (c) Sirona)

Dentists no longer have to "guess" where to place an implant or whether a patient is a viable candidate for the procedure. A simple scan can tell the dentist instantly what is feasible -- and new treatment plans being taught at advanced dental training facilities mean patients can walk away with not just a beautiful smile, but a smile that's been designed precisely for him or her using the latest techniques.

While at Yankee I gave my first course, "Full-Arch, All-Porcelain Rehabilitation." (This was a course other dentists could take and then receive continuing education credits. I'm very happy to report that both morning and afternoon sessons were sold out -- and on a Saturday, too!)

While talking about my work as a dentist over the years I realized that dentists and their patients are on the cusp of truly extraordinary times.

Health technology will allow dentists and doctors to finally integrate patient health information into one place. At a point in the future, patients will come to me and I'll know instantly which medications they take, if they have sinus troubles or migranes and the treatment they've had, any injuries or surgeries to the head or jaw, and any diseases.

Having this information literally on my computer screen chairside means that I'll be able to give patients an unprecidented level of care.

Modern dentistry and the technology that supports it mean that dentists can no longer view themselves as "tooth plumbers." Instead, we are truly "mouth physicians."

As I stood in the Yankee Dental exhibit hall surrounded by this new technology, I realized how just how exciting it all is. As a modern dentist myself, I embrace this new technology -- and am glad I'm able to provide my patients with the utmost in care.

1 comment:

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