Did you know that people have been driving cars longer than they’ve been using an effective toothbrush? According to the American Dental Association, the first nylon-bristle toothbrush wasn’t sold until 1938. Surprisingly, the Ford Model T—one of the first mass-produced automobiles—was sold 30 years prior.
Cars are more computerized now, but automakers use the same general technology to make them go as they did over 100 years ago. Dentistry, on the other hand, has changed a lot in the last century. New technology allows dentists to treat patients faster and more effectively. Look how far we’ve come:
If you’ve had dental X-rays recently, you may have been surprised to find the giant, film X-ray machine in your dentist’s office was replaced by a smaller, more versatile digital X-ray machine.
Benefits of digital X-rays include:
- Less radiation – While film X-rays are safe, digital X-rays expose patients to even less radiation, making them an excellent option for people concerned about radiation exposure.
- Shorter dental appointments – OK, maybe not shorter, but you no longer have to wait for film to develop. The X-rays are sent directly to a computer and the images are available on-screen a few seconds after being taken.
- Better imaging – Since digital X-rays are sent to a computer screen, the images can be magnified so the dentist can see the tooth’s structure. Adjustments can also be made to the brightness, color and contrast of the image to make it easier to identify cavities.
Dental Lasers/Laser Dentistry
For many, the word “laser” conjures images of the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars or Dr. Evil explaining his latest nefarious plan. In dentistry, lasers are used in a variety of dental treatments, such as removing ulcers and operating on gums. Lasers are now common in the dental world.
If you’re familiar with the concept of 3D printing, then CAD/CAM (computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing) tech won’t seem much different. This machine creates digital impressions for crowns and implants and may allow your dentist to repair your tooth in a single visit.
New dental technologies continue to be tested daily. For example, researchers at King’s College London are developing a procedure that uses low frequency electrical currents to help teeth “self heal” cavities, which means no drilling! Sounds good, right?
While it’s hard to predict how dental technology will evolve over the next 100 years, one thing is certain: The future looks a lot like a healthy smile–bright!