The first part of this series took a closer look at two important changes which are helping to create a more holistic approach to dentistry. In this, part two of a two-part article, we will be focusing on the third way that dentistry is changing:
How digital imaging is changing the way we look at dentistry
We are experiencing a new way of actually looking at the mouth, thanks to advances in digital imaging technology. Specifically, digital impressions (also called intraoral scanning) create a virtual replica of the hard and soft tissues of your mouth. The intraoral scanner uses a camera that combines more than a thousand images to create a virtual 3D image. Digital scanners use no radiation, are completely safe, and very precise. They are an ideal way to capture all the details of your teeth and gums in full color so that both you and your dentist can view the same image. For patients, digital impressions mean:
• The end of gooey impressions is here. In minutes we can obtain accurate, full-color, digital impression without leaving a sticky mess. Then impression data can be immediately displayed onto the dentist’s computer and transmitted electronically to dental laboratories. These impressions can be used to make crowns, implants, retainers, bite guards, and even orthodontics.
• You can see what the dentist sees in a new and clearer way. In our office, dental scans help us to better collaborate with our patients. Together, we can review the concerns in 3D, using a touch-screen computer – even rotating and enlarging the image for better understanding. Additionally, software can now integrate these scans with 3D x-rays, called Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT), to visualize the entire chewing system’s form and function.
• We can better monitor and solve progressive dental problems. In the past, it has been difficult to measure the progress of some gradual dental problems such as wear, recession, and shifting. With digital scanning, we can assess these problems and compare scans over time. Each scan can be kept indefinitely without taking up storage space, and will remain a permanent part of your dental record.
Big picture dentistry is about you
Perhaps the greatest reason for my optimism about the changing landscape of dentistry is that, collectively, these changes help us to see the “big picture” more clearly. We now have the understanding, the techniques, and the tools we need to transform dental care into a more integrated and collaborative experience where the patient is better informed, empowered and at the center of care. So that we are not just trying to change dentistry, but working to change dentistry for the better…for the patient.
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