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 a 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 are 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 technology in dentistry

Computer technology 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 database 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 programs.

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.

Lasers

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 computers 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 database.

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 downtime 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 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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