Are you thinking about giving up conventional impressions, and are curious to see what digital dentistry has to offer? Here are a few things you need to consider before making the jump.
Over the next couple of years, we anticipate significant growth in the number of dentists using digital scanners routinely in their practices- between 5,000 and 10,000 dentists will make the change, accelerating the emergence of fully digital workflows across our profession. With the ever-growing usage of these digital technologies, it is important to keep in mind that how the technology is applied is as important as what the technology does.
What is exactly digital dentistry?
Digital dentistry may be defined in a broad scope as any dental technology or device that incorporates digital or computer-controlled components in contrast to that of mechanical or electrical alone. This broad definition can range from the most commonly thought area of digital dentistry — CAD/CAM (computer aided design/computer aided manufacturing) — to those that may not even be recognized, such as computer-controlled delivery of nitrous oxide.
The following list represents the majority of the areas of digital dentistry that are assumed to incorporate some type of digital components; not every conceivable area is listed.
- CAD/CAM and intraoral imaging — both laboratory- and clinician-controlled
- Caries diagnosis
- Computer-aided implant dentistry — including design and fabrication of surgical guides
- Digital radiography — intraoral and extra oral, including cone beam computed tomography (CBCT)
- Electric and surgical/implant hand pieces
- Occlusion and TMJ analysis and diagnosis
- Photography — extra oral and intraoral
- Practice and patient record management — including digital patient education
- Shade matching
There are many other areas of digital dentistry available, and many more are being researched. It is an exciting time to be in the dental profession as more technologies are being introduced that make dentistry easier, faster, better, and — most important — enjoyable.
The future is here to be embraced:
The examination of other industries and past technological advances proves it generally takes up to 25 years for a new technology to be accepted and widely used. If digital dentistry is now perceived as the future of dentistry, is it also behind by 25 years?
Dentistry, in comparison to the larger industries previously mentioned, is extremely small in terms of financial revenue, potential capital market growth, and outside, non-dental investors. As such, some of the technological advances being developed in other industries are slow to be integrated in dentistry due to the relatively small global interest and financial input required to transfer the technology so that more efficient and improved dentistry results.