Before I was a dentist, I studied to be an engineer. The technology of dentistry is of keen interest to me.
Unfortunately a lot of dentists offer fancy new gadgets that impress patients, but have no real benefit. When new improved technology comes along, it has to prove itself beneficial to my patients before I embrace it.
Let me tell you about some of them.
Many types of lasers exist for use in dentistry. The erbium class of lasers are particularly special because they have so many diverse applications. Most important is their ability to remove decay from teeth with so little discomfort that numbing is not necessary in 80% of the teeth treated. Our office uses half the amount of anesthetic now as compared to four years ago. Our patients can have a tooth treated without a poke from a needle and the prolonged numbness when they leave the office because we use laser technology.
Traditionally impressions using putty and gels have been used to make plaster replicas of teeth. Many patients have sensitive gag reflexes and cannot tolerate the molds in their mouth. Now digital scanners make it possible to make molds using a wand that takes 3 dimensional photographs of teeth, stitches the photos together and then digitally sends them to a processing facility where models are accurately fabricated from highly stable plastics.
Digital x-rays reduce the amount of radiation to our patients while creating more accurate images of the teeth. These images can be enlarged to show minute details and can be sent through the internet to specialists for second opinions.
Orthodontics can now be accomplished without the use of traditional brackets and wires by using clear plastic trays, called ‘aligners’. Each aligner moves the teeth 1/4mm. New aligners are exchanged every two weeks until the teeth are straight.
Patients often object to the squeal of the traditional dental drill. Electric drills replace that high pitch noise with a quieter hum.
Many dental offices are now computerized but having an extra monitor in each treatment room allows the doctor and team to move x-rays and photographs to a location easily viewed by the patient. This offers a better understanding of why something has to be treated and how it will benefit the health of the teeth and mouth
Being confined to a dental chair with the head immobilized for an hour can be quite tedious. For the comfort of our patient we offer 900 megahertz headphones connected to a variety of interesting playlists.
Longer dental procedures can cause the blood to pool in the back and for the muscles to become stiff. Our dental chairs have airbags built into the backs that subtly massage the muscles and allow the blood to keep flowing. Our patients no longer complain of that common stiffness found following a dental visit.
Our state of the art stericenter boasts an in the counter mounted ultrasonic vibrator to remove tiny particles from instruments before they are placed into one of our two steam autoclaves. The autoclaves cook and sterilize even the most resistant of germs. The cabinets on either side of the center are separated into dirty instruments on the right and sterile on the left.
We use a variety of the best cameras to capture images of our patients teeth, gums and surrounding tissues. We use these images to educate our patients as well as to educate other doctors. Dr. Nealis regularly teaches younger doctors advanced techniques which he has learned and developed
Early in my career I felt sorry for the older dentists who I thought needed those ‘binoculars’ attached to their glasses because my eyesight was sensational. Then one day at a dental meeting I tried on a pair and immediately understood that they wore those scopes not because they couldn’t see but because with them they could see so much better. A dentist can attain far better precision if the image of the tooth is four times larger than the actual tooth. That was over twenty years ago and I still use them on every tooth that I treat. My loupes are not a crutch but rather an aid that makes my results noticeably better and my restorations last longer.
Propel is a minimally invasive procedure that will stimulate bone chemistry. Orthodontic tooth movements can be accelerated up to three times their normal movement speed. For example orthodontic plans that normally take a year can be completed in four months.