A prospective patient called my North Carolina dental office from Washington, DC, inquiring about five implants’ cost. I sent her to a CAT scan (CT) center to obtain a scan. I used a dental software called Simplant to determine the available bone’s size and density with those scans. I then tried several implants, virtually, in the area the implants would be placed. My treatment coordinator contacted the patient, and two weeks later, she was in my office, getting ready for her implants!

Another inquiry came from an office three hours away. The patient went to the CT center; I downloaded the CT scan, did the virtual surgery on the computer, and then e-mailed the completed plan to Belgium to produce surgical guides. They sent me a model of her mandible created from the computer files along with the surgical guides. I used the model to practice the surgery, where the objective was to place four 8-mm implants into 11-mm of available bone. The surgery was completed according to plan, and the patient was finally able to have a denture that stayed in place because implants anchored it.

3D Dental Scans

Three-dimensional dental scans can also detect calcifications of the carotid artery or thyroid tumors, well as sinus problems. They can also show complex canals and the extent of infection at the root of the tooth.

Lasers for Dental Procedures

Another recent development in dental technology is the use of Lasers. We can use lasers to help treat gum disease, fill cavities without anesthesia, or help treat root canals. With lasers, we can also perform gingivectomies, which remove sufficient gum to give the effect of longer teeth.

New scans can make an impression of your teeth, create models of your teeth, and have them e-mailed to the lab. These scans avoid messy impression materials and keep germs away from lab personnel.

Avoiding Amalgam Fillings

The days of dark-colored (amalgam) fillings are almost over because the materials that match the tooth color are getting so much better. No longer do dentists have to be bothered by rules that tell them to dispose of the remnants of amalgam fillings in a covered jar with a dental fixer because the mercury vapors will be harmful to your employees. I agree with the American Dental Association and The Academy of General Dentistry as they point out in their studies that no harm has come to anyone with amalgam fillings, except for those who may be allergic to one of their components (silver, nickel, tin, zinc, copper, etc.). Many states have started to require those offices have amalgam separators to keep the materials, especially mercury, out of the water system. Hazardous-material disposal services will adequately dispose of amalgam in an environmentally safe way. We will still be removing millions of amalgam fillings for years to come because they have served us well.

Ozone Therapy

Ozone therapy, as well as pharmaceutical formulations, is being used to regenerate enamel in teeth. Genetic engineering of tooth materials has been studied to come up with alternatives to repair teeth.

Finally, dental offices are referring patients to other physicians as their screening examinations become more exacting. Saliva and fluids in the space between teeth and gum can be used to detect various illnesses. Early bone or tooth loss can indicate problems with white blood cells, and many more developments will benefit patients.