Advances in Dental Care: What’s New at the Dentist
Faster Dental Care: CAD/CAM Technology
The CAD in this technology stands for “computer-assisted design,” and the CAM for “computer-assisted manufacture.” Together, they translate into fewer dental visits to complete procedures such as crowns and bridges.
Traditionally when a patient needs a crown, a dentist must make a mold of the tooth and fashion a temporary crown, then wait for the dental laboratory to make a permanent one. With CAD/CAM technology, the tooth is drilled to prepare it for the crown and a picture is taken with a computer. This image is then relayed to a machine that makes the crown right in the office.
Thinner Veneers Preserve More Tooth
Veneers are the thin, custom-made shells or moldings that are used to cover the front of crooked or otherwise unattractive teeth. New materials now make it possible to create even thinner veneers that are just as strong.
What’s the advantage for you? Preparing a tooth for a veneer – which involves reshaping the tooth to allow for the added thickness of the veneer -- can be minimal with the thinner veneers. Less of the tooth surface must be reduced and more of the natural tooth is kept intact.
Better Bonding and Filling Materials
If you've chipped a tooth, you can have it fixed to look more natural than it would have in the past, thanks to improvements in bonding material and bonding techniques.
Today's bonding material is a resin (plastic), which is shinier and longer lasting than the substance used in the past. Often, dentists will put layers of resin on a tooth to bond and repair it. Because of the wider range of shades available, they can better blend the bonding material to the tooth’s natural color.
In restorations, when a cavity needs to be filled, many dentists have also abandoned amalgams for "tooth-colored" composite or porcelain fillings, which look more natural.
Better Dental Implants
Implants to replace lost teeth are now more common than in years past. First, a titanium implant or screw-like device is inserted to serve as a replacement root, fusing with the jawbone and protruding above the gum line. An abutment covers the protruding part and a crown is placed over that.
In the past, implants often failed. Now, the typical life of an implant is about 15 years or longer. About 95% of implants today are successful, according to the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.
New Gum Disease Treatments for Better Dental Health
When the supporting tissue and bone around your teeth doesn't fit snugly, "pockets" form in the gums. Bacteria then invade these pockets, increasing bone destruction and tooth loss.
A variety of treatments can help reverse the damage. They range from cleaning the root surfaces to remove plaque and tartar to more extreme measures such as gum surgery to reduce the pockets.
In recent years, the focus of gum disease treatment has expanded beyond reducing the pockets and removing the bacteria to include regenerative procedures. For instance, membranes, bone grafts, or proteins that stimulate tissue growth can be used to help regenerate bone and tissue to combat the gum disease.