Dentistry is a multi-faceted and rapidly evolving sector of medical science that is greatly influenced by technological innovation.
Throughout our lifetime we have seen vast changes in the technologies that surround our lives.
Dentistry is an area in particular that has seen such a change.
Much has improved in dentistry, where patients can now benefit from more effective dental materials, procedures and techniques. The NHS reformations alongside the changing practices of dentists have helped dental practices to have more of a community role within their area. Of course, all of these aspects of modern dentistry have now helped make a visit to the local dentist’s a little bit more of an enjoyable, relaxing and comfortable experience
Digitalised X-rays: Ensures a quicker, more efficient and accurate treatment for the patient with 90% less radiation exposure. Digital CT scans can also be made to ascertain a complete 3D representation of facial aspects for even greater accuracy in more crucial diagnostic decisions.
Magic Wand (Periowave) to prevent decay: Uses light therapy to activate chemicals applied to the gums to kill bacteria that can cause gum disease and tooth decay. This non-invasive procedure can get rid of the worst kinds of bacteria with the effects lasting three to six months.
Professor Stephen Porter, director of the Eastman Dental Institute at UCL, says: ‘This will improve infection control. It avoids the need for potentially painful gum disease treatments.’
Just some of the other notable advancements within dentistry include: the development of local anaesthethic drugs and delivery systems; the computer modelling techniques behind dental Implants; aesthetic dentistry – creating natural looking teeth; same-day procedures through CAD/CAM equipment; and dental lasers that allow the gums and teeth to be treated more effectively.
However, there was a time when the technologies in dentistry were not as advanced as we see today.
The people interviewed commented that the dental practice has become much more inviting and technologically advanced in its appearance – ‘There are flatscreen TVs and coffee dispensers in my dental practice, which has made me feel right at home!’.
For some elderly patients, when they were children, visiting the dentist was a part of the school programme. Some even had a dental practice annexed onto their school. However, these were often the roots of their dental anxiety and phobias.
As a group they all agreed that their ‘school’ dentist was abrupt and pompous with a lack of empathy.
However, most of them mentioned that their visits to the dentist have vastly improved in the past decade – ‘I now feel less anxious to visit the dentist. He is kind, patient and explanative – far from the dentists I encountered in the past!’
They also recognised the changes in dental technology, where faster and more powerful drills have been developed for patient-comfort and greater precision.
On asking both the elderly and the young about their expectations for an ideal dentist they gave the following interesting criteria:
• Good manual-dexterity
• Up-to date
• Happy and enthusiastic
Alongside these technological advancements, the role of a dentist is going to see vast changes in the near future due to the intended eradication of primary care trusts by 2013 and the recommendations set by the Steele Review.
For further details of these upcoming areas of change within dentistry, my next article will give you everything you need to know!
All of these changes have helped develop and expand dentistry into a more positive and beneficial service. After all, as long as science continues to evolve, so too will dentistry.