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Dental Technology

Dental technicians are making progress all the time, and this section covers the history of, and future trends for, dental technology, such as dental fillings and virtual reality.

Dental Filling Failure Linked to Personal Factors, Not Materials

Researchers have traditionally linked dental filling failure to the materials used. However, new research suggests that personal factors are also to blame. The results imply that personalized dental care could help improve treatment outcomes.

Patient factors like smoking, drinking and genetics play a role in how well a dental filling performs, researchers now say. Specifically, “people who drink alcohol or men who smoke are more likely to suffer a failed dental filling.”

In addition, the researchers found that genetic differences in some patients are associated with dental filling failure.

The team also looked at traditional amalgam materials compared to newer resin fillers. They found “no major difference in filling failure rates” associated with the materials used.

Dental Filling Failure: The Traditional View

Dental fillings sometimes fail, and they do so for a variety of reasons. For example, the initial tooth decay may reemerge or the filling may become detached. Previously, it was not clear whether newer materials, such as composite resin fillings, were as tough as amalgam fillings. Solving this puzzle has helped drive the new research.

Working with a large number of records from a dental school in Pittsburgh, researchers investigated filling failure rates for patients. The data included information about dental filling failures that occurred within 5 years of the filling’s placement.

Overall, the team found that there were no major differences between filling failure rates for amalgam or composite fillings. They found the composite fillings to be at least as durable as the amalgam ones.

The Difference: Patient Based Factors

The records used also contained patient lifestyle information, such as smoking and drinking habits. Moreover, the records included a DNA sample from each patient. This allowed the team to look into whether these factors might have an effect on dental filling failure.

The results were eye opening. The team found that “within two years of the procedure, fillings failed more often in patients who drank alcohol.” In addition, in men who smoked, the overall filling failure rate was higher.

Furthermore, the researchers found a link between a genetic difference in an enzyme found in teeth and increased dental filling failure. They have not yet confirmed that this is responsible for filling failures. However, the data suggests that personal factors, rather than material properties may lead to failed fillings.

“A better understanding of individual susceptibility to dental disease and variation in treatment outcomes will allow the dental field to move forward,” a researcher involved in the study said. “In the future, genetic information may be used to personalize dental treatments and enhance treatment outcomes.”

Source: Frontiers. “Dental filling failure linked to smoking, drinking and genetics.” ScienceDaily, 6 November 2017.

Should I Let My Dentist Turn into a Robot in the Future?

As tech continues to evolve, your dentist just might turn into a robot. Er, well, use dental robotics, at any rate.

Here’s what you need to know about dental robots and how they’re currently impacting the present — and how they could affect the future.

What’s Happening with Robotic Dentistry?

Neocis, a company based in Florida, announced last year that it had approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market a first-of-its-kind robotically-assisted dental surgical system called Yomi.

In China in 2016, a robot dentist replaced a dental implant for the first time. A live dentist programmed the measurements to make sure the implant would fit correctly, but the robot did the rest of the dental work.

Robots in the Dental Field

Have you heard of one of these types of dentistry robots? One may come to your dentist or periodontist soon! Take note of the following innovations.

Hanako

Before you have robot instruments, you need a robot patient first! Three Japanese universities (Waseda, Kogakuin and Showa) and robot maker Tmsuk developed Hanako, a robotic dental patient. The “female” patient can talk, discharge robotic saliva, sneeze, open her mouth and more.

Endo Micro Robot

The endo micro robot reduces human error and increases the quality of endodontic treatment.

It can:

  • Assess tooth conditioning using computer graphics and tooth models
  • Aid in computer-aided procedure planning
  • Build a smart multipurpose micro machine for root canal treatment
  • Help with waste removal

Surgical Robots

Oral and maxillofacial surgery offers programmed surgical robots to perform the various functions in the operation theatre and also interact with the surgeon.

Sensor-Equipped Implant Setup

Computer-assisted surgery for implants uses 3D views obtained from the raw images of the patient before surgery and during surgery, which are displayed on a monitor. It checks the position of the patient and the movement of the surgical using an infrared surgical marker emitter.

Robotic Dental Drill

Robotic dental drills immobilize the patient’s jaw and insert thin needles in the gum to determine the location of the bone. This whole unit is connected with a wireless connection to a PC and joins with the CT scan data to make a set of self-activating drill guides.

Tooth Arrangement Robot

The tooth arrangement robot manufactures complete dentures. The tooth arrangement robot:

  • Chooses and creates medical history files of the patient followed by a drawing of a jaw arch and dental arch curves and according to the jaw arch parameters.
  • Displays 3D virtual dentitions on the screen.
  • Adjusts the tooth arrangement initial position for the robot, creates control data profile and controls the robot for tooth arrangement operations.

Manufacturing dentures takes only 30 minutes using this robot system.

Dental Implantology Robot

A 3D model of the patient's jaw is made, implant fixtures are placed and an accurate robot drills a jaw splint to make a surgical guide. Dental implantology robots perform implant drilling and apply pressure on the gathered implants to mimic chewing. Robot arm, angle sensors, torque sensors, an accuracy potentiometer, driver shafts and mini implants are also a part of the robot.

Orthodontic Arch Wire-Bending Robots

Arch wire bending robots use 3D imaging and computer techniques to diagnose and plan treatment for lingual arch wire manufacturing and design aid. These robots bend wires to a specific position, create the right optimization arch wire angles and apply kinematics and bending processes.

Yomi

Yomi is the first and only system for robotic guidance for dental surgery in the United States. Yomi does not replace your dental surgeon — it provides precision guidance. Your dentist is always in control and handling all the instruments but guides a doctor’s hand based on settings the doctor makes prior to a procedure. It’s used with the help of a CT scan to get a precise angle and depth for drilling into bone.

Dentists use Yomi software to develop a custom treatment plan during surgery and offers precision guidance for near-perfect results.

Should I Trust These Tech Advances?

Robotics in dentistry offers advantages over freehand techniques for using dental instruments. Navigational guidance, increased accuracy and precision in dental treatment and streamlined work processes offers better dental care.

Reason 1: Increased accuracy.

Depending on the type of robotics your dentist uses, it can help with precision planning and placement of your dental apparatus, from dentures to implants. A robot can give you a more natural feel and shape. Dentists can diagnose, treat and perform procedures with never-before-seen precision.

Reason 2: Robotic assistance is becoming a standard of care in medicine.

Robotics are used to help over one million patients every year. It’s changing dental care and dental surgery. Digital scanning, 3D printers, laser technology and other tools are also popping up in more dentists’ offices and will continue to evolve in the future.

More importantly, patients receive effective, efficient and comfortable procedures.

Reason 4: Some dental procedures are faster.

Dental visits for restorations such as crowns, inlays, veneers and bridges reduces time spent in the dentist office.

Reason 5: The cost remains the same.

Patient costs remain virtually unchanged, dentists say. Fewer visits mean fewer shots of local anesthetic; digital scan capabilities also lower the cost. Whether your dentist uses robots or not, you can still make an informed decision about your dental plan options with dentalinsurance.com. Whether you need help choosing a plan, understanding dental plan terms or knowing what’s included in your plan, dentalinsurance.com can help you find the information you need.

How to Get More Information

How can you find out if you’re a candidate or whether your dentist offers this service? Visit your dentist or periodontist. Don’t have a dentist? Find one here.

Your dentist will explain whether you’re a candidate. Because it takes time to set up some procedures based on CT scans of your teeth and jaw, certain procedures and robotics are best used when you need multiple implants.

Your dentist may not have specific robotic devices, either. If your dentist or periodontist does have robotic devices in their office, it can save you time, money and increase the accuracy of your dental procedures.