The Evolution of Modern Dentistry: A Better Future for Dental Health

The evolution of dentistry has brought awareness to the importance of oral health and provided solutions for maintaining it through education and technology.

By Kayla Makowski, RDH

It is no surprise that dentistry has changed a lot throughout the years, which has led to innovative technology, techniques, and equipment. In the past, dentistry lacked the attention it deserved. This vacuum led to many individuals needing better dental hygiene and new tools to mitigate the oral health issues that inevitably arose.

Today, dental professionals have the education to inform patients about maintaining oral hygiene and the tools to treat them. New and innovative dental technology allows for more preventative options, less invasive treatments, and time-saving tools.

The History

Dentistry was one of the first medical professions to exist. The Baltimore College of Dental Surgery opened in 1840 and became the first dental school in the world. Nearly a decade passed before the Fones Clinic for Dental Hygienists opened in 1917, the first to provide education and instruction for hygienists. Until this time, individuals practicing dentistry lacked proper training and accreditation.

These critical moments in history pioneered the dental profession for what it is today and laid the foundation for dental professionals to educate patients on oral health.

Modern Dentistry

The advancements in dental technology have assisted in more accurate diagnosis, minimally invasive procedures, and cost-effective treatment options. All areas of dentistry have been affected, including:

  • Dental Hygiene 
  • Restorative Treatment
  • X-ray Machines
  • Teledentistry
  • Sedation

Dental Hygiene

The use of the airflow machine has transformed dental cleanings for patients by providing a pain-free experience with the help of guided biofilm therapy. It is an efficient, time-saving tool for hygienists that produces effective results for managing biofilm compared to hand instruments.

Restorative Treatment

Many methods in which restorative treatment is completed have changed, ranging from the materials used for fillings to how crowns are made.

Most significantly, 3D intraoral scanners now create impressions and crowns, leaving no need for unruly impression material. CAD/CAM machines can integrate the 3D scans to manufacture crowns conveniently in the office. They are cost-effective, convenient, and provide a more comfortable experience for the patient.

X-ray Machines

There have been significant improvements in how radiographs are developed. Traditional film radiography requires extensive processing times with various steps. However, with the use of digital radiographs, films are available to be viewed within seconds.

In addition, this process produces a 50-75% reduction in radiation exposure compared to film. Lastly, digital films make clearer images that can zoom in and alter contrast to detect oral health concerns that otherwise might have been missed.

Teledentistry

Teledentistry provides dental services without needing in-person appointments. Remote appointments provide expanded care for individuals in underserved areas and without immediate access to a dental office.

During the height of COVID–19, teledentistry became more popular as patients allowed in-office were limited. Teledentistry enables dental practitioners to meet the community's needs by providing diagnosis, treatment planning, and patient education before an in-person appointment.

Sedation

Sedation dentistry is intended to alleviate patients’ anxiety and pain during treatment while providing the highest level of care. Because of advances in sedation dentistry, patients can feel comfortable knowing their dental needs will be properly cared for by a skilled and certified sedation dental team.

Year In Review

The most recent dental technology making waves uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) in dentistry. AI involves using robotics to perform tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence.

Multiple dental software programs have been released that are designed to assist in detecting oral health conditions, treatment planning, and predicting prognosis.

What’s Next?

Innovations in dentistry have been plentiful, ranging from airflow machines to digital radiographs. But one thing they all have in common is bringing a better outcome for the patient.

These advancements have allowed dental professionals to diagnose earlier, plan more effectively, and treat oral health conditions pain-free. As dental technology continues to expand in years to come, we have dental professionals to thank for their commitment to their patients and a better future for dental health.

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Author: Kayla Makowski is a Registered Dental Hygienist with a passion for providing education on the importance of oral health. Through continuing education courses, she is committed to staying up to date on the latest advancements in dentistry. Kayla finds joy in being a mom to her son. In her free time, you can find her spending time with family.

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