There’s been plenty of speculation about the clothes we’ll wear, what kind of cars we’ll drive, or what our houses will look like in the future. But it’s probably safe to say that not too many people have wondered about the future of the dental industry.
Although our practice is constantly developing, we’re on the brink of a digital age of dentistry. New technologies are paving the way for better offices and, ultimately, better patient care.
Let’s take a look at some of the latest technological advancements and how they can be applied in your clinic.
Electric toothbrushes were just the beginning. Now, smart toothbrushes have entered the market from hygiene brands like Kolibree, Philips, Colgate, and Oral-B.
These brushes can help your patients keep their pearly whites shining between visits by connecting their toothbrushes to an app on their smartphones.
The apps provide real-time feedback, so users know if they’re brushing too hard, how long they need to brush, and what they should do to improve their technique.
The cool thing about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) is that the more time they have working with a system, the better it becomes at analyzing probabilities and determining solutions to a problem.
Healthcare systems can integrate smart algorithms to pore through health data, research, treatment techniques, patient records, and more. These tools can help clinicians instantly provide their patients with the best treatment options and probabilities for success for a given procedure.
Other dental applications of AI include using machine learning to quantify immune cells around oral cancer cells and to detect dental decay and periodontal disease from radiographs with more accuracy.
Augmented reality (AR) has become increasingly popular for dental students because it gives prospective clinicians the opportunity to learn in a low-risk situation.
For example, Image Navigation’s DentSim Simulator enables students to perform dental procedures on an AR-powered mannequin while their movements are tracked. They receive immediate feedback that helps them improve their technique and develop their skills.
But AR is being put to work in professional offices as well, especially for reconstructive and aesthetic procedures. AR apps help patients know what they will look like after dental treatments. This allows the patient and the dentist to collaborate on a process before they enter the surgery room.
Similar to AR but not quite the same, virtual reality (VR) is excellent for aspiring students or terrified patients.
VR utilizes a headset that blocks out the real world and transports the user to somewhere else. For students, that means being able to be a part of a virtual operating room for a delicate procedure.
For patients, that means being able to pretend they’re at the beach instead of in a dental chair. Research has shown that VR can significantly reduce patient anxiety, making life so much easier for dentists.
The COVID-19 pandemic revolutionized the telemedicine industry. Teledentistry is also gaining traction by helping people receive dental care no matter what their situation is.
Children, patients with special needs, those in managed care facilities, and people in rural areas can easily talk to a dentist. Teledentistry enables people to see a professional for less money out of pocket, while the dentist can collect images to determine whether the patient needs to come into the office.
The American Dental Association (ADA) is leading the way toward making teledentistry a general practice. They issued a policy to offer guidance on the kind of service you can provide over an Internet connection, so if you plan to implement teledentistry in your office, be sure to review it.
3D printing has already gotten plenty of buzz for its applications elsewhere, but it provides an incredible opportunity in the dental industry.
Computer-assisted design (CAD) and computer-assisted manufacture (CAM), which includes 3D printing, make it possible to create perfect dental appliances at a low cost.
Orthodontic models, surgical guides, aligners, retainers, mouthguards, and more can be developed faster and more precisely than traditional methods.
Trying to see into the back of your patients’ mouths can be difficult, and intra-oral cameras are working to replace the dental mirror.
These small cameras use a unique liquid lens that works like a human eye to help dentists get a clear, detailed picture of what their patient’s teeth look like.
Regenerative dental technology is working to find ways to help teeth heal themselves.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham and Harvard crafted dental fillings that would allow teeth to heal themselves. Imagine never having to perform a root canal again because the tooth made itself better.
In 2020, researchers at the Karolinska Institutet discovered ways to speed up the development of regenerative medicine. They mapped the different pathways of the cells that compose human teeth and found new cell types and cell layers in teeth that impact sensitivity.
CRISPR is mainly known for its potential to help find the cure to cancer, but it also offers positive benefits for dentistry.
Some researchers are using CRISPR to figure out how to identify and turn off oral cancer-associated genes. Others are working to change how plaque-forming bacteria work to reduce or prevent periodontal disease. The possibilities are endless with CRISPR, and it’s exciting to see how things will develop.
One of the technologies you can implement in your office right away is automated equipment management.
Automation can help you get rid of paper binders and digitally organize everything you need for equipment compliance and maintenance. Having a fully integrated system enables you and your team to track your contracts, warranties, compliance, and service events all in one place.
You won’t have to worry about things falling through the cracks when it comes to keeping track of your devices because you’ll have a simplified method of task management.
UptimeHealth can help you streamline your equipment management with our powerful, state-of-the-art system. To learn more, schedule a free demo to discover how automation can bring your practice into the future.