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Innovations… what’s new in dentistry?

“Hope from Science and Technology”

“Remarkable advances in human molecular genetics are developing therapeutic approaches to many oral health diseases, ranging from passive immunization for dental caries, induction of new bone and cartilage tissues, to the artificial synthesis of saliva for patients suffering from xerostomia.”

“Additional scientific progress in the neuro-sciences will have broad implications for the diagnosis of …neuromuscular related conditions e.g. facial and dental trauma, bruxism, Bell’s palsy, temporomandibular joint disorders and the management of facial pain.”

“Innovative developments in biotechnology are to design and fabricate bioceramics to be used in the replacement of human enamel or dentin on the surface of teeth.” – U.S. Surgeon General’s Report

We review some of the current advanced technologies and procedures used in dentistry.

  1. Treatment of decay with air abrasion
  2. Treatment of decay and gum problems with the dental lasers
  3. Digital x-ray imaging
  4. Intra-oral computer camera
  5. Tissue engineering

1. Treatment of decay with air abrasion

  • Air abrasion is a method of gently and precisely removing dental decay with a high powered fine spray of aluminium oxide powder:
    • It reduces the need for the use of the high-speed drill.
    • Local anaesthesia is often not necessary.
    • There is no vibration or smell.
    • The procedure is usually completed more quickly.
    • It is especially good for treating teeth with early decay.
    • It is completely safe to use.
    • It is ideally suited to treatment of decay with the newer tooth coloured filling materials.
    • Air abrasion is increasingly but not universally used.

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2. Treatment of decay and gum problems with dental lasers

  • A dental laser is an intense concentration of energy into a beam of light. This is called a laser beam:
    • The energy of lasers can be used to vaporise tissues.
    • It provides a painless and vibration free method of removing dental decay.
    • It has recently been approved by the FDA (U.S.A.) for the removal of diseased or excessive gum tissues.
    • Laser treatment is not, as yet, commonly used in dentistry.

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3. Digital x-ray imaging

  • When computer technology is applied to the taking of x-rays, it allows the image to be made, stored, retrieved and transmitted to another site in a digital form:
    • The images may be enlarged permitting better diagnosis.
    • They can easily be stored in the computer or printed on paper.
    • The system is thought to considerably reduce exposure to radiation.
    • The use of digital x-ray imaging is increasing rapidly.
    • The processing of x-ray films with developing solutions will become a thing of the past.

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4. Intra-oral computer camera

  • This is a specialised camera system:
    • A thin instrument is moved around the mouth to take the photographs:
    • The picture can immediately be viewed on a computer screen.
    • The picture can be stored for future reference or comparison.
    • Problems can be shown to the patient.
    • The results of treatment can be shown.
    • When cosmetic changes are planned, patients may preview the results before the treatment is decided.
    • This system is increasingly being used for patient education and cosmetic dentistry.

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5. Tissue engineering

  • This is a method of growing genetic tissues in a laboratory:
    • When a patient lacks the tissues needed for grafting, this method of growing new tissues can be very valuable.
    • This new tissue may be grafted back into the patient to replace tissue lost because of disease or trauma.
    • It will be of great benefit for gum and bone grafting.
    • This treatment is still in the early stages of development and is not yet commonly used in dentistry.

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