THE TRUTH ABOUT SOME COMMON DENTAL MYTHS

The profession of dentistry has experienced an amazing evolution over its lifetime. References to tooth decay can be found in various ancient texts. At one time, a local barber would provide haircuts and pull troublesome teeth in the same shop. Dentistry evolved from these humble beginnings to what we know today: a structured medical discipline where patients benefit from evidenced-based care. Oddly enough, though, several oral health myths and misconceptions have failed to fade away....

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SIMPLE STEPS TO MAINTAIN YOUR ORAL HEALTH

On the list of common reasons people avoid the dentist, cost is usually near the top. It is a fact — some dental treatments are expensive. However, you have some control in working to avoid pricey dental procedures. Two of the best ways to avoid needing expensive dental treatments are to visit a dentist regularly for an exam and cleaning and following proper dental hygiene advice every day.

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COMMON SLEEP DISORDER WREAKS HAVOC ON THE BODY

The National Sleep Foundation estimates over 18 million adults in the United States, or about one in every 15 people, suffer from sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that interrupts breathing, resulting in disruptive sleep. Individuals suffering from obstructive sleep apnea will experience a repetitive (partial or complete) airway collapse throughout their sleep, which prevents air from reaching the lungs.

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DIGITAL DENTISTRY OFFERS ACCURATE, EFFICIENT, FASTER TREATMENT

Intraoral Scanner

Intraoral scanners or optical scanners have helped reduce the need for traditional impressions where patients are asked to bite down on a tray of impression material for several minutes. It is not uncommon for patients to find the process of taking traditional impressions uncomfortable or to dislike the taste of the impression material. Now, many patients can be scanned using a small handheld device. Intraoral scans are being used in a variety of treatments from orthodontic and dental surgery cases to planning and preparing for the placement of a crown. Not only do scans typically offer patients a more comfortable time in the dental chair, they also aid in saving time in planning and production phases of treatment and may help decrease treatment costs for patients.


CAD/CAM

Technology Computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), or CAD/CAM, have been used in dentistry for nearly 30 years. Advancements in CAD/ CAM technology have allowed providers to utilize this technology for an ever-growing list of treatments, including the creation of veneers, crowns, fixed partial dentures and more. A significant advantage to

patients whose providers use CAD/CAM technology is the ability to receive many necessary objects for treatment much faster because items may be created within a dental office rather than needing to be sent out to a dental laboratory for fabrication. Many good-quality treatments, offering a natural aesthetic appearance, are available the same day, such as same-day crowns, helping to reduce the overall number of appointments needed to complete a procedure.


Cone Beam Computed Tomography

Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) technology has been used in dentistry in the United States since the early 2000s. The use of CBCT has allowed for significant improvements in establishing patient treatment plans through imaging of dental structures. Because CBCT offers high- quality, 3D imaging, it can be used in many areas of dentistry, including guided dental implant surgery, orthodontics, diagnosing temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD/ TMJ) and sinus evaluations. CBCT allows providers to view the path of vital structures, decreasing the risk of nerve damage during surgeries and helping improve treatment outcomes.


Guided Surgical Planning

Advancements in intraoral scanners and CBCT technology have allowed increased ability to have in-depth surgical planning. The use of guided surgical planning is beneficial to patients because it supports a safer, more predictable and efficient treatment solution for successful dental implants. Providers utilizing guided surgical planning can use a CBCT scan to create a reconstructed 3D model, allowing for precise visualization of various anatomical structures, including nerves, sinuses and dentition (the arrangement and condition of teeth within a patient’s mouth). With the advantage of this model, providers can better identify ideal sites for dental implants, ruling out whether additional treatments may be needed before a dental implant procedure. Once this step is complete, a surgical guide can be 3-D printed and used to perform computer- guided safe surgery. During a dental implant placement procedure, providers will place the surgical guide in the patient’s mouth. The guide eliminates any guesswork because it has been created specifically for one patient, using information collected from their CBCT and intraoral scans. Additionally, guided surgical planning typically allows patients faster recovery after a procedure because providers can make smaller and more precise openings to place a dental implant.


Digital dentistry has helped make a variety of treatments require less time in the dental chair while increasing the accuracy of many procedures.  

DR. AHMAD KUTKUT

Dr. Ahmad Kutkut is an associate professor at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry. As a prosthodontist, his clinical interests include implant dentistry, fixed and removable prosthodontics, digital dentures and digital dentistry. More information about UK Dentistry is available at   www.ukhealthcare.uky.edu/dentistry.

more articles by dr Ahmad Kutkut

Although the concept of digital dentistry began decades ago, advancements aided by the computerization of many tasks continue to be introduced to the marketplace and dental practices. These changes allow dental care providers to offer new options in patient care, helping to increase both the accuracy and effectiveness of care solutions, which ultimately supports greater patient satisfaction. If you’ve been putting visiting the dentist off, you may want to take a moment to see if digital dentistry options could speed up or make treatment more comfortable. Understanding some basics allows patients to be better informed about their treatment options, aiding in playing a more active role in their overall oral health condition and care.


What is digital dentistry? The term digital dentistry encompasses a broad range of technology, from intraoral scanners to computer-aid- ed design. It involves the replacement of older tools and techniques with some form of computer-based instrument or method, typically allowing for a streamlining of processes and overall treatment. Today the field has progressed to support numerous aspects of dentistry, and it continues to both expand and improve, offering greater incentive to dental providers to incorporate into their practice to increase their patients’ quality of care and satisfaction.


Here are a few more commonly used tools you may hear about: