Modernization and Digitalization of Dental techniques to improvise treatment outcomes.

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Written by Dr Amrita Jain

August 13, 2021

We all have been exposed to several solutions in all aspects of healthcare facilities, considering the outbreak of Covid pandemic throughout the world. In Dentistry, the latest technologies enable dentists to provide painless, contactless, comforting, and faster treatment options to the patients that too with lesser risk of exposure to both!

Technology is always fascinating for people and with dental advancements, there are always additional benefits that come along with it for both patients as well as dentists. Hence, It is always in the best interest for the dentists to keep updating themselves with newer technologies they can use to improve patient footfall and their experience.

Technologies that dentists can incorporate into their practice to improvise patient experience are-

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Dentists, medical professionals, and healthcare workers today are already using various software for diagnosis and clinical decision-making, and proper treatment planning. What’s encouraging professionals to use AI is convenience and results without human errors. The incorporation of AI algorithms will enable Dentists to accumulate all health, neural network, and genomic data of each individual which can bring to light the most accurate and best treatment option for the patients in cases of emergency.

The AI may also be useful in scheduling dental office tasks, reception tasks, and documentation smartly to free up the personnel from the non-important tasks to focus on other important matters to increase productivity in clinical practice. Such AI integrated approaches can become essential and standard practice culture in the future. AI also backs up the small possibilities of human errors. Hence, Artificial intelligence-powered softwares are now being accepted and widely used by many dentists.

Augmented reality (AR)

We all are familiar with AR through some social media apps. Don’t we like to superimpose filters on our faces to look at our imaginary best?  Wait! If you don’t know yet, now AR has found a way in Dentistry too for both Educational & Clinical purposes.

We could have never thought about AR apps that allow patients and clinicians to provide virtual depictions of the end results of reconstructive and esthetic dental procedures. But Augmented reality is making a way in dentistry real quick. Another such example of augmented reality is home decorating apps. These apps allow us to see how their products will look in our homes. Similarly, different dental treatments with, before and after images are compared to encourage patients to choose a particular treatment. For example, how teeth whitening or a space closure will look post-treatment.

Virtual reality (VR)

Want to assist a Dental Surgery virtually, from a surgeon’s perspective, being just an observer outside the OT? Yes, it is possible! By slipping VR inbuilt headset on the head, students and surgeons can be virtually transported to OT. On the other hand, VR tools can be used to display calming natural scenes to reduce dental phobia in patients.

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Teledentistry

Not only children, but even adults are a victim of dental phobias. We still live in a world where adults are scared of dental treatments and children are scared of white coats. In such scenarios where only medications can also help patients, they still will fear stepping inside the clinics.

In this world of digitization post pandemic, with google meets and zoom conferences, teledentistry has also proven to be a boon for patients. Audio and video dental consultations have been preferred by patients who are scared even to see a dentist. It’s not only the dental phobia but also covid phobia that people are preferring dental e-prescriptions via teledentistry.

For the elderly in nursing homes, handicaps, or living in rural areas who can’t approach dentists, Teledentistry has helped so many patients across the globe.

Teledentistry allows patients to capture images of teeth/oral sites and send the relevant information to the Dentist. The Dentist can consult through a direct video chat with the patient, talk & build a rapport with a patient, and can give immediate advice or can appoint to the clinic if necessary.

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Intra Oral Camera

No matter how wide the patient opens his mouth, sometimes dentists can’t see what they want to see clearly, even after using the best dental mirrors. This not only is uncomfortable for a dentist and patient, but painful & tiring too. In such cases, the advent of intraoral cameras (Ex: MouthWatch, Durradental, Carestream dental) has made life easy for dentists. These cameras have unique liquid lens technologies to simulate human eye-capturing images effortlessly with details that the patient can also understand.

LED Headlamps

Most dentists have been already using LED headlamps along with dental loupes in critical treatments. However, it should not only be used during critical cases, but also routine procedures as it allows dentists to see magnified areas with distinct clarity, especially without the light shining directly into the eyes. One additional advantage of these lamps is that they require much smaller batteries that remain charged for a longer duration. Thus, it does not only reduce energy usage but makes it convenient for dentists to use it.

I Tero- Intra Oral Scanner

If you want to get rid of repeated impressions this is the perfect tool. Ask your patients do they like the taste of the weird impression materials in the mouth and they will not hesitate to say a no. Various impression materials their taste, texture can make them gag. Gagging too creates a sense of dental phobia in patients, so its very important to consider this aspect in your dental practice as you do want your patients to keep coming to you.

An Intraoral scanner completely replaces gag-inducing impression technique. It scans the patient’s mouth quickly & painlessly to create a digital impression. It not only provides a clearly visible oral condition to the patient, such as palatal/buccal pit or lingual stains, but also helps the dentist to convey treatment options with the current oral condition right in front of the patient. This I Tero technique is best in Invisalign and restorative treatment needs.

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3D scanner

This new 3D imaging technique has changed a lot of things in dental practice from a diagnosis point of view. This tool takes thousands of high-definition images in a fraction of seconds. The software then merges those images together, creating a 3D representation of the patient’s mouth. Also by using this technology, you don’t have to keep waiting for your lab technicians to visit and pick up the work. Simply send them the digital copy of the patient’s mouth and there you have saved much of your time too. The benefits of using 3D scanners are

  • Detection of cavities
  • To identify TMJ pain & the best way to treat it
  • Helps in making dental crowns and bridges with utmost precision.
  • Placement of Dental Implants after bone assessment
  • Detection of bone cancer
  • Spotting minor fractures in teeth that aren’t easily visible by eyes.

Highlights

  • Prepp your dental office for covid. Induce and execute sanitization protocols and ask your staff and patients to follow all the instructions.
  • With the incorporation of dental technical advancements, dentists can assess the patient’s dental issues with the most ease and comfort to the patient as well.
  • An advanced dental practice can give an optimum diagnosis and accurate treatment plans quickly.
  • It’s upto the dentist to educate patients about the benefits of such advanced technology to help overcome their fears and have much fewer reasons to skip their dental appointments.
  • Modernization and digitization is not only for the other professions, but we as dentists also need to normalize digitization in dental clinics.
  • Modernization, Digitization, and using advanced technologies are one way to eradicate dental phobia in patients, once and for all.

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Dr. Amrita Jain is a practicing dental surgeon since 4 years. She completed her B.D.S in 2016 and was has been a rank holder throughout her course. She suggests “Holistic dentistry is the best dentistry”. Her treatment line follows a conservative pattern which means saving a tooth is of utmost priority and preventing your teeth from getting decayed rather than curing it with a root canal treatment. She inculcates the same while consulting her patients. Apart from her interest in clinical practice, she has developed interest in research and writing over a period of time. She states “It is my clinical experience that motivates me to write and spread dental awareness”. Her articles are well researched with a combination of technical knowledge and clinical experience.
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