When I was little a visit to the dentist meant an agonizing sit through a painful and unpleasant process. Pulleys ran a slow speed drill that vibrated my head and made smoke! Predictably, as a child growing up in the 1960s, my mouth became full of black, amalgam fillings. Dentistry back then was drilling, filling and pulling. Dentists patched and patched until the teeth broke and then they were pulled. Eventually people were expected to have dentures.
Boy have things changed! Here’s but a bit of the technology you’ll find today in a modern office.
Laser Dentistry: Dentists started using lasers in 1990. The instrument produces an intense narrow beam of light energy. The light can remove or shape tissue on contact.
DIAGNodent: This laser device detects cavities hidden in places that regular x-rays cannot detect. Remember the “pick” the dentist used to rely on? A laser can often replace the explorer (pick) and can be more accurate. We can find decay at an earlier stage when it can be treated conservatively.
Invisalign: These clear braces straighten your teeth with custom-made aligners that are invisible, smooth and comfortable. Wearing them gently and gradually shifts your teeth into place based on a personalized plan. The concept, though simple, is based on hi tech computer modeling software coupled with robotic aligner fabrication.
Digital imaging and cadcam restorations: Crowns (caps) can now be made from solid porcelain by a hi tech laboratory that uses computers and cad cam machines to scan images of your teeth and create beautiful, lifelike, perfectly fitting restorations. In some cases we can scan your mouth with a Cerec machine right in the office to make a beautiful crown while you wait.
Digital x-rays: Remember those little films you held with your hand while the dentist took a picture? Today we have digital x-ray sensors that require much less exposure than conventional film.
Dental implants: Implants have revolutionized treatment options. We routinely replace teeth with implants. Dentures loose? Implants can hold them solidly.
Bonded veneers: A porcelain crown can save your tooth. Bonded porcelain veneers can give you a new smile and change your life!
Sedation dentistry: Just like for a medical procedure, you can be safely sedated in the office for almost any dental procedure.
Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland Dental School.