Computer technology in dentistry ( Digital dentistry ) uses , types , cons & pros

Dentistry relies heavily on technology & highly implements new techniques , It is the branch of medicine that involves research , teaching , administration , The patient care is based on generation , storage & manipulation of the information , The computers can handle large amount of such data , The use of computer graphics has enabled simulation of the cosmetic changes to be presented to the patient with before & after possibilities .

Digital dentistry   

If you use digital dentistry , You can carry out dental procedures more efficient than using mechanical or electrical tools , It can range from CAD/CAM (computer aided design/computer aided manufacturing) to those that may not be recognized , such as the computer-controlled delivery of nitrous oxide .

There are many areas that is used in digital dentistry such as CAD/CAM & intraoral imaging ( both laboratory- & clinician-controlled ) , Caries diagnosis , Computer-aided implant dentistry ( such as design & fabrication of surgical guides ) , Digital radiography ( The intraoral & extraoral , including cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) ) .

There are many other areas of digital dentistry available , such as the electric & surgical/implant hand-pieces , Lasers , Occlusion and TMJ analysis & diagnosis , Photography including digital patient education , Shade matching , The digital dentistry contain three things , which are Improved efficiency , both cost & time , Improved accuracy in comparison to previous methods and a high level of predictability of outcomes .

Computer in dentistry

Computer in dentistry

Special software is provided by the manufacturers for the design of various kinds of dental restorations , With such software , crown & fixed partial dentures (FPD) frameworks can be constructed , Some systems offer the opportunity to design full anatomical crowns , partial crowns , inlays , inlay retained FPDs , as well as adhesive FPDs & telescopic primary crowns .

Digital dentistry applications

The computers are used for many purposes in the field of dentistry , They can be broadly classified as Administrative applications , Clinical applications & other applications , There are many administrative applications , The computers are used in the administration field , They are aimed for a smooth running of the dental clinics , the hospitals & the dental institutions .

There are many activities in the administrative applications such as Patient appointments & recalls , Correspondence , Billing & Accounting , Inventory controls & supply orders , Dental insurance claims , Document preparation & word processing , Referral information , Missed appointments & follow ups .

There are many clinical applications , The computers are very useful for the dentists in their professional practice , Such as Patient records storage & retrieval , Patient evaluation , examination & treatment planning , Patient motivation & awareness and Appliance designing using CAD , CAM techniques .

The computers are very useful in Radiovisuography (RVG) technique , Clinical diagnosis & treatment  planning , Storage of patient photographs , radiographs & study models , Computerized imaging techniques , Computerized Cephalometrics & Growth prediction .

There are many other applications , Besides the administrative purposes & the clinical uses , The other applications contain Creating a data base of survey information , Case presentations , Conference presentations , Reviewing of literature & Continuing medical education .

The technological advances in the industrial manufacturing have contributed to the improvement in productivity & quality of dental care , There are many benefits such as collecting , sorting & searching of the data , The efficiency & productivity are increased through the computer appointments , recall & practice analysis the programmes .

Digital Radiography

The digital images can be stored on the computer easily & they can be transferred to different dentists or orthodontists for referrals , You can enhance the digital image ( such as alter brightness & contrast ) with a series of processing techniques , Digital Radiography helps you in Digital archiving , It produces larger photos to better source hard-to-see cavities .

Digital radiography provides you with improved comfort of intra-oral X-rays , performed by intra-oral dental assistants & less cranial exposure to the radiation , It is more environmentally friendly in the long run & it is cheaper , Grey-scale of digital X-rays has 256 shades of grey versus 16-25 shades in conventional radiography .  

Film sensors are less thick & rigid than the digital sensors , So , They offer the patient better comfort when the X-ray sensors go into their mouths , Film presents superb picture quality , You do not need extra training  to use the conventional X-ray machines and it is standard in most dental offices .

Unlike digital X-ray sensors that must use plastic disinfectant covers , The conventional film sensors can withstand heat sterilization , Film X-ray photos cannot be altered , whereas the digital ones can , Possibility of alteration exposes digital radiography to fraudulent use & legal issues .

The main benefits of Digital radiography contain lower radiation ( when following the ALARA principle ) , significant time reduction , ease of storage & organization , and the image enhancements for quick & improved viewing .

There are many new & existing developments such as the wireless sensors ( both CCD/CMOS and PSP ) , caries diagnosis ( Logicon by Carestream Dental ) , Intelligent Positioning System for quick & easy digital alignment of the tube head to the sensor (Carestream Dental) and integration with the tablets & voice activation .

Cone beam computed tomography

Cone beam computed tomography is a superb technology , It has seen rapid growth due to decreased costs , It offers many options to choose from , increased number of general dentists placing implants , decreased radiation , It is quickly adopted by most specialties & becoming the proposed standard for many surgical procedures , Such as implant placement , third-molar removal & endodontics .


Advances in lasers contain the expanded use in every field of dentistry , Many users have integrated lasers very effectively into their practices & their observations , Diode laser offers lower cost areas of digital dentistry to adopt & it is very easy to use , It is used in periodontics , endodontics , surgery & prosthodontics .

CAD/CAM & intraoral imaging

The term CAD/CAM in dental technology is used as a synonym for prostheses produced by milling technology , CAD is the abbreviation for computer-aided design , CAM stands for computer-aided manufacturing , The term CAD/CAM does not offer any information on the method of fabrication .

All CAD/CAM systems consist of three components , which are the digitization tool/scanner that transforms geometry into digital data that can be processed by the computer , Software that processes data & depending on the application , It produces the data set for the product to be fabricated and a production technology that transforms the data set into the desired product .

CAD/CAM for dental manufacturing & the dental laboratory profession is faster , more economical , predictable , consistent & relatively accurate , All components of the CAD/CAM system are located in the dental surgery , Fabrication of dental restorations can take place at chairside without a laboratory procedure .

The digitization instrument is an intra-oral camera , which replaces a conventional impression in most clinical situations , This saves time & offers the patient indirectly fabricated restorations at one appointment , One of the benefits of this very mature system is the software that has been supplemented by a very exact three-dimensional reconstruction of the occlusal surface .

Laboratory production

The dentist sends the impression to the laboratory where the master cast is fabricated first , These data are processed by means of dental design software , After the CAD-process , the data will be sent to a special milling device that produces the real geometry in the dental laboratory .

The exact fit of the framework can be evaluated & corrected on the basis of the master cast , The ceramist carries out the veneering of the frameworks in a powder layering or over-pressing technique .

Moving dental data into the cloud

One benefit is lower computer costs , You can use any brand of computer such as Mac or PC , You won’t need as much processing power , Your computer can be less expensive , It has less memory and more economical & efficient processor .

There are instant software updates , You never install software , Every time you access the system you’re using the latest version , You won’t experience downtime due to hardware and servers that must be shut down to install an update .

There is unlimited storage capacity , No matter how big your practice grows , you will not need to buy more memory in the form of hard drives and disks to accommodate the expanding patient data base .

You can log on from any computer and update your notes or schedule wherever you are , The documents & applications are the same no matter what computer or device you are using .

Cloud computing offers high reliability on the data , If your practice burns to the ground or your computers are stolen , your practice data is unaffected , It will be stored in the cloud , There will not be any down time to retrieve your patient and practice-management data .

The main drawback of moving all of your dental information into the cloud is the security , There is a fear that when your practice information is moved to the cloud that you lose control of security , Although , dental software companies who host Web-based software have better security measures than what a dentist can achieve internally , they should incorporate the latest security measures on a continual basis to keep your data safe .

If you use web-based dental software , It requires a constant data connection , but good Internet connections are still difficult to find ,  So , Web-based dental software will work with low-speed connections .

Digital dentistry disadvantages

The main limitation of digital dentistry is cost , To adopt new technology often requires a higher capital investment , especially at the innovator or early adopter stage , Misunderstanding the new technology tends to foster slower adoption rates , This scenario can be easily avoided by greater attendance of basic & advanced hands-on courses in these areas of technology — not just the state’s minimum to maintain the dental license .

One of the popular pitfalls in adopting new dental technology is lack of desire on the part of the clinician & the team to be adequately trained , Some clinicians will purchase a new technology , but they never read the owner’s manual or seek advanced training on how to operate the technology efficiently , So , leading to high failure & abandonment .

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