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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.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Alfred D. Wyatt Jr., DMD on May 31, 2012

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

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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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