Future Of Dentistry

If you’re looking for a relaxed, predictable career with few adjustments on the horizon, you might want to consider something 2play-a-grill-inside-370x400other than dentistry!  The dental industry is in a state of flux as changes in populations and technologies impact the daily operations of the dental practice.  Yet new opportunities continually arise from this industry evolution, and those who are prepared to embrace the inevitable changes will lay a solid foundation for ongoing success. Following are several factors that will have a significant impact on dentistry into the future.

 

Changing demographics

 

The dental patient populace has been growing steadily for several years due to the substantial size of the up-and-coming Millennial generation and increasing immigrant populations in various areas of the country. This changing demographic profile creates mounting pressure for multicultural dental environments, presenting a significant opportunity for dentists who can effectively address language barriers and dental education issues.

 

At the same time, we are seeing a considerable decline in the number of graduating dentists, with a gap each year between graduates and retirees.  In addition, there is a slight decline in the number of hours worked by today’s younger practitioners, many of whom tend to value quality of life over income.

 

Consequently, just as the need for dental services is increasing, the capacity to provide those services is decreasing. This translates into meaningful opportunities for dental practices that choose to meet this growing demand through cultural outreach and expanded hours.

 

New developments in dental technology

 

Dental technologies are evolving quickly, driven primarily by the digitization of dental procedures.  It’s become apparent that once a practice is able to create a digital record of impressions, new opportunities and efficiencies in dental solutions that were previously unavailable become possible.

 

Three areas of dental technology in particular will change rapidly over the next decade:

 

  • Implants – With digital technology, predicting and managing the outcome of the implant process is becoming far more scientific. Visual 3D programs are taking much of the guesswork out of this procedure, making it easier for dentists to calculate and control the end result. With the population’s increasing desire to have a permanent restoration rather than a removable device, we will see this space grow dramatically.
  • Same-day dentistry – The evolution in delivery of dental restorations has enabled a full procedure to be accomplished in a single appointment, rather than the two to three appointments for a new crown that was prevalent for so many years. With increased restoration efficiency, practices can increase productivity as well as patient satisfaction.
  • Orthodontics – Numerous factors are driving growth and innovation in the field of orthodontics. Digitization of patient records creates new opportunities to recommend and track orthodontic treatment.  Procedures are becoming simpler and more accessible to patients, with multiple choices in types of appliances now available.
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Dental Myths and Misconceptions

Most people do not look forward to seeing their dentist. Surveys about the most loved or hated professions are often not kind to dentists.know-the-facts-lethbridge-dentist

Perhaps this is why dentists are sometimes portrayed as sinister characters in movies. For example, in Little Shop of Horrors, Steve Martin plays Orin, the evil dentist. In one song, he quotes his mom, singing: “You have a talent for causin’ things pain. Son, be a dentist. People will pay you to be inhumane.” And how about the sadistic dentist played by Laurence Olivier interrogating and torturing Dustin Hoffman’s character with a dental drill in Marathon Man? These characters seem to play on the fear many people have of seeing their dentist and getting dental care that may be painful.

While it’s true that going to the dentist isn’t at the top of things I do for fun, it usually isn’t thatbad. Unlike Orin, my dentist is great about making sure I’m numb before getting to work.

Dentists, of course, just want to do what’s best for their patients’ oral health. Your experience at the dentist should generally be pain-free, given modern medications and procedures.

Myths about teeth abound. Perhaps you’ve wondered about how to whiten stained teeth or what people mean when they say they have “soft teeth.” Maybe you never had a chance to ask your dentist—it’s hard to do when your mouth is full of instruments!

Here are five of my favorite dental myths:

1. All stains can be easily whitened or cleaned away.

Many things can discolor teeth, but not all of them can be fixed by a professional cleaning or tooth-whitening procedure. Tobacco, coffee and some foods can cause teeth to turn yellow or brown. Ingesting or inhaling certain metals can also change tooth color. For example, copper can turn teeth green, while mercury can turn them black. These stains usually come off easily with either a professional cleaning or a tooth-whitening procedure.

The discoloration related to damage or death of the pulp, the soft core of the tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves, is harder to fix, but it’s not impossible. The procedure involves putting bleach into the part of the tooth that contains the pulp.

Some stains just don’t respond well to whitening or cleaning. To deal with these types of stains, you generally need to get a procedure called bonding, in which a dentist paints a plasticlike material onto the tooth. For example, taking the antibiotic tetracycline in childhood, when your permanent teeth are developing, can cause stains that are hard or impossible to whiten. Or if your childhood drinking water had an excess of certain minerals in it, such as copper or silver, your teeth may be uneven in color.

Ironically, too much tooth whitening can make teeth look gray, because it turns the teeth translucent. How much whitening is too much differs from person to person, says Dr. John D. Da Silva of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. “It varies depending on tooth size, shape and thickness of enamel. That’s one of the reasons why you should see your dentist before bleaching your teeth,” he says.

2. “Soft” teeth cause cavities.

You may have heard someone say he has “soft” teeth and that’s why he gets lots of cavities. The truth is that teeth are hard. The enamel that covers the part of the teeth above the gum line is the hardest substance in the human body. It’s not softness that causes cavities—in fact, cavities are formed when acid produced by bacteria dissolves the hard enamel. This missing enamel (the “soft spot” in the tooth) is the cavity. But the tooth itself is not soft.

Some people are more susceptible to cavities and other mouth problems. But that’s not because their teeth are soft, it’s because of a mix of genetics, what they eat, medical problems they have, medications they take and how well they take care of their teeth.

 

3. Chewing gum is bad for your teeth.

This one’s partly true. Chewing gum of any kind increases saliva production—a good thing, because saliva cleans the teeth and neutralizes acid. The sugar found in some gum, however, feeds bacteria. So whether gum is good for you or not depends on whether it’s sugar-free or not. Sugar-free gum can actually be good for teeth; it seems that a particular type of artificial sweetener, xylitol, fights oral bacteria better than other types of sweeteners.

4. Fluoride is unsafe.

Studies show that adding fluoride to a community’s drinking water is associated with a 50 percent to 70 percent drop in the level of tooth decay. The widespread fluoridation of drinking water is often cited as one of the greatest public-health accomplishments of the 20th century.

Yet rumors linking fluoride to health problems abound. It gets connected to heart disease, allergies and genetic abnormalities, to name a few. But numerous studies refute claims that the current level of fluoride in drinking water causes these problems. And many important health organizations, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Dental Association, support fluoridation.

That said, fluoride can be dangerous—even lethal—if you ingest excessive amounts—2.5 to 5 grams for an average adult. However, that would mean drinking 5,000 to 10,000 glasses of fluoridated water in one sitting. The biggest poisoning danger is for children who get into improperly stored fluoride tablets or ingest a large amount of a fluoridated toothpaste or mouth rinse.

5. Old people actually get “long in the tooth.”

OK, I doubt many people actually believe this. Maybe this one isn’t so much a myth as it is a phrase that reflects an interesting dental phenomenon: The gums of humans and certain animals (especially horses) tend to pull away from the teeth as they age. This makes the teeth appear to be getting longer. This phrase refers to anything old, worn out or old-fashioned.

By the way, the relationship between a horse’s age and the appearance of its teeth also explains the phrase “never look a gift horse in the mouth.” If someone gave you a horse as a gift, it would be rude to immediately look at its teeth to see how old—and therefore how valuable—it is. It would be like looking at a gift’s label or its price tag in front of the gift giver—not polite!

Maybe it’s too much to expect that you’ll actually look forward to seeing your dentist every visit. But considering what we put our teeth through over a lifetime, it’s worth taking good care of your teeth and knowing the difference between dental myths and facts.

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Types of cosmetic dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry may involve:

  1. the addition of a dental material to teeth or gums – examples: bonding, porcelain veneers (laminates), crowns (caps), gum grafts
  2. the removal of tooth structure or gums – examples: enameloplasty, gingivectomy
  3. neither adding nor removing dental materials, tooth structure, or gums – examples: teeth whitening (bleaching), gum depigmentation
  4. straightening of teeth accompanied by improvement in appearance of face – Orthodontics Continue reading Types of cosmetic dentistry
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Invention of the Tooth brush, Tooth paste and Dental Floss

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Natural bristle brushes were invented by the ancient Chinese who made toothbrushes with bristles from the necks of cold climate pigs.
French dentists were the first Europeans to promote the use of toothbrushes in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. William Addis of Clerkenwald, England, created the first mass-produced toothbrush. The first American to patent a toothbrush was H. N. Wadsworth and many American Companies began to mass-produce toothbrushes after 1885. The Pro-phy-lac-tic brush made by the Florence Manufacturing Company of Massachusetts is one example of an early American made toothbrush. The Florence Manufacturing Company was also the first to sell toothbrushes packaged in boxes. In 1938, DuPont manufactured the first nylon bristle toothbrushes Continue reading Invention of the Tooth brush, Tooth paste and Dental Floss

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Dealing with Patient Anxiety: Are you helping or not?

Many people experience dental anxiety and would rather endure discomfort in the mouth over a visit to the dentist. Typically, this anxiety stems from the anticipation of the pain rather than the pain itself. Other anxiety factors may include fear of the unknown, dental equipment, past experiences or being overly sensitive to pain. No matter what the case may be, modern dentistry continues to develop new techniques to alleviate various forms of anxiety.

As a dental professional, what are methods you can use to help your patients combat anxiety? Continue reading Dealing with Patient Anxiety: Are you helping or not?

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Why does my tooth hurt after a root canal?

There are a number of possible causes of pain after the completion of a root canal. After a root canal is completed no living pulp tissue remains inside the tooth, but nerve endings remain in the ligaments that attach the tooth to the surrounding bone. These ligaments have nerve fiber associated with them that can feel pain. They are the source of any post root canal pain. Continue reading Why does my tooth hurt after a root canal?

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Why would I need endodontic surgery?

 

  • Surgery can help save your tooth in a variety of situations.
  • Surgery may be used in diagnosis. If you have persistent symptoms but no problems appear on your x-ray, your tooth may have a tiny fracture or canal that could not be detected during nonsurgical treatment. In such a case, surgery allows your endodontist to examine the entire root of your tooth, find the problem, and provide treatment. Continue reading Why would I need endodontic surgery?
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