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Advances in Dental Care: What’s New at the Dentist

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Lasers for Tooth Cavity Detection continued...

When healthy teeth are exposed to the wavelength of the diode laser, they don't glow or fluoresce, so the reading on the digital display is low. But decayed teeth glow in proportion to the amount of decay, resulting in higher readings on the display.

The diode laser doesn’t always work with teeth that already have fillings, but for other teeth, it could mean earlier detection of cavities. Note also that the diode laser does not replace X-rays; it detects decay in grooves on the chewing surface, while bitewing X-rays can find decay between and inside teeth. 

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.

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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