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Digital Technologies

Technology is changing fast and the world of dentistry is taking part. Several procedures can be done more efficiently with technology than traditionally. Read on to learn about them.

1. Clear aligner therapy: These are a series of aligners that progressively make your teeth straight. They have been around well before Invisalign, but with the advent of Invisalign the process was digitized. Traditionally a stone cast was made of your teeth, the teeth were cut off the stone and reset by hand to make the teeth progressively straight. A clear aligner was then made each step of the way. Now you can make the series of aligner via a scan of your teeth which is sent off to an aligner company or made in house by your orthodontist. Instead of plaster models, the digital models are set up to progressively make your teeth straight, are 3D printed and finally a clear aligner is made of the new position. Wear them and your teeth will follow the plan and become straight!

2. Dentures: Dentists are printing dentures, either on their own 3D printer or via a dental lab. The traditional way of making them is a tedious and long, with patients going weeks without teeth. The dentist would take an impression of the dental arches and make a stone model. The models were used to make custom trays to then take a second set of impressions because the accuracy was increased as the gums can be challenging to replicate due to their mobile nature. The dental lab would make the second set of casts and through multiple stages make the denture. Four weeks later the teeth would be delivered to the patient. Now, a scan of the patient’s mouth is taken, software is used to 3D print the gums and then 3D print the teeth separately. The two pieces are put together and if the dentist has a printer in their office, the denture can be delivered the same day!

3. Orthognathic surgery: For patients with severe underbites/overbites that cannot be treated with braces alone, they need oral surgery to surgically move the jaws to address. Traditionally, this is done with dental casts that were reset by hand and this leaves room for potential discrepancies in the final result. Surgeons now can use software to virtually reset the jaws in the desired position and then surgical guides are printed to facilitate the incisions where the incisions/cuts need to be made. This takes out guesswork, reduces the time in the operating room and improving the final result. They can even print a custom titanium splint to hold the jaw together instead of generic plates and screws.

Our patients ultimately benefit from these advances. These are available now, the future is looking bright!

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