New technology changing typical dental visits

April 2, 2012 4:52:14 PM PDT
There are big changes in the world of dentistry -- from a 3D X-ray that catches cavities that hide to taking the yuck out of those gooey dental impressions. You can also get a crown without the hassle of having a temporary one.

You're probably used to the goo you get and you gag on when your dentist needs to make an impression of your teeth. But soon, you could be saying goodbye to the green gunk and hello to a blue light. Using this blue light, they're making a digital impression of teeth.

Then, your digital impression can be e-mailed to a lab or your crown can be made right there in the dentist's office.

This machine takes a cube of porcelain and mills it to the measurements taken by the blue light digital impression. And you come out with a finished, permanent crown, no temporary needed. You can be in and out of the office with your crown in an hour and a half.

That's the future in dentistry.

At the dental convention in Houston, they were also showing new uses for dental lasers, like helping to heal a fever blister.

"If the patient does have a herpes lesion on their lip, this will actually decrease the healing time," Dr. Terri Alani said.

And take a look at the 3D X-ray: it catches problems that traditional X-rays miss.

"I can start to see they're having a problem right here on one of the teeth," said Don Harvey with Sirona Dental.

"Would that have been missed with a traditional X-ray?" we asked.

Absolutely. In fact, on this patient right here it was missed," Harvey said.

The cavity was hiding in the middle of the bone. The 3D scan also picks up medical problems, like people with sleep apnea.

"This allows the doctor to measure how much airspace is actually available to the patient," Harvey said.

It helps sort out confusing pain in the upper mouth. The roots of your teeth are back-to-back with your sinuses.

"With this new technology, we're able to differentiate whether it's a sinus problem or an actual tooth problem," Dr. Alani said.

And that could save you an unnecessary root canal.

Soon, dentists will also have saliva DNA tests that can diagnose oral cancer, periodontal disease, the HPV virus and even breast cancer. Some of that research is being done in Houston.


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