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