Advancements in technology over the past few decades have improved the comfort, efficiency, and accuracy of dental treatment. The challenge for the dentist is to make sure that we adopt the technologies that are proven to provide as good or better outcomes for our patients. As with all industries, there are many products that sound great but don't deliver on all the claims. With that said, below are some examples of how digital dentistry has improved our practice:
The 3Shape Trios Scanner
Intraoral scanning is a replacement for traditional impression materials. A digital impression is taken, which can be used to either print models of the teeth or create design a crown on a computer that can then be milled. While other camera systems use lasers, pictures or continuous video, the Trios takes up to 1000 3D /images/second and builds a HD color 3D model of the mouth from these images. The Trios is currently the only system that boasts shade matching technology in the image capture system. This gives the lab more details about the different colors, areas of brightness and shape of the teeth.
The real beauty of the Trios is how well the restorations fit, though. A recent ADA article compared 6 top scanners on the market. The Trios came in first for both accuracy and consistency. This means that the scanner creates a very accurate image compared to the real thing. Also, that image can be more consistently reproduced with each scan. This means our patients can be assured they are getting restorations that fit!
Some digital impression systems can be used to create porcelain restorations in one visit. While there are advantages to these systems, our office currently uses the Trios scanner to create crowns in the lab. We feel our lab technicians have dedicated their careers to the analysis of materials, color and fit of the restorations. This gives us the best chance to provide a beautiful, functional restoration for our patients. Also, not all materials can be made in one visit. Gold crowns, zirconia porcelain crowns, and layered porcelain crowns are just a few options that take longer to make. Finally, there are times where a model is helpful to fully analyze how the new crowns with interact with the bite and function of the mouth.
Digital Radiographs (X-rays)
Digital radiographs offer a number of conveniences as compared to traditional radiographs. First, they can be viewed directly after being taken, so there is less time. Digital films can also be lightened or darkened to help view areas of decay, fracture, bone loss or calculus on teeth. This allows for a more accurate diagnosis. Also, digital radiographs use less radiation than traditional films. This is because the radiographs have intensifiers that amplify the radiation delivered. Finally, digital radiographs have less maintenance as compared to traditional films. We no longer need chemicals to process the films or charts to store them in, which helps reduce our use of disposable waste.
We use Schick 33 digital radiographs. These image sensors provide some of the best image definition available.
Has the dentist every told you about a big problem in your mouth that you don't see or feel is a problem? This is where the Digidoc comes in and it is one of the tools we cannot live without. The Digidoc is able to show areas where a filling has fractured, or a concerning spot in the soft tissue in the mouth or really most any problem the dentist can see. When both the patient and the doctor are looking at the same thing we can come up with a treatment for the specific problem that makes sense. There's not much more to say—the images tell the story.
The Diagnodent is an FDA-approved device for detecting decay. Most people have harder teeth now because there are more consistent fluoride levels in the water than in years past. However, if a small area of decay gets through the enamel and into the dentin of the tooth, it can progress much faster. The Diagnodent allows us to see how deep a cavity goes or even if it is a cavity at all. For cases that have a lot of stain on the grooves of the teeth, this detection tool can be very helpful. It also allows us to perform minimally invasive dentistry.