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    The future of dental practices

    Experts say the field of dentistry is shifting and new advancements will accompany the change. What will your dental practice look like five years from today?



    An investment in technology 

    The benefit of the practice models of the future is that they will facilitate an investment in technology, primarily in the imaging world, according to Dr. Kachalia.  

    Imaging will be expanded,” he says. “Not just radiation-based imaging, but non-radiation-based imaging, both for diagnostics and digital impressioning and the likes.” 

    Advancements in imaging will get a boost from the medical field as well. 

    “Years ago, we saw the proliferation of cone beam CTs,” he says. “That came from the predicate technology of digital CAT scans. In the next stage, we’ll see things like ultrasound and MRI come to dentistry.” 

    The hold-up with these technologies is that the area of the scans is so much greater in medicine than in dentistry, where the area of focus is measured in millimeters. The clarity needed in dentistry is not available in these technologies yet. But when it is, those will be the next big things in imaging, according to Dr. Kachalia. 

    Trending article: The revolution will be digitized

    “The beauty of all those is that there’s no radiation involved in any one of them,” he observes. “Everyone knows that in a single office visit to the dentist, the radiation levels are really, really low. But I understand that people are more concerned with overall lifetime exposure to radiation. If we can find technologies to get rid of it completely, there’s no reason anyone would advocate that we must have radiation.” 

    He also anticipates dentistry borrowing from ophthalmology. “I think that optical coherence tomography (OCT) will come into dentistry in a form that can actually be used in dental offices,” he says. 

    As for the technology dentistry already uses, cone beam CT scans seem to be the most exciting due to their superior diagnostic capabilities. 

    Trending article: Why image is everything for dental practices

    “I think cone beam CT is becoming the standard of care, especially in endodontics,” says Emily D. Hobart, DMD, of Bayside Dental in Anacortes, Washington. “I think they’re going to help us diagnose so that patients get the right treatment in the right amount of time and they have the best information to make the right decisions for their health.” 

    Erinne Kennedy, DMD, a dental public health resident at Harvard School of Dental Medicine, shared those sentiments. 

    “I’m excited about cone beam,” Dr. Kennedy says. “My practice has a lot of patients who come in and say, ‘This tooth feels funny,’ but diagnostically nothing comes of it. Radiographs show nothing because it’s 2D. I went to [the] Sirona 3D Summit and they were showing cases of patients who had complaints, but the X-ray didn’t show anything. Then they showed the cone beam, and it shows exactly what you wanted to see: something you couldn’t see or diagnose with any other method.” 


    Next: Advancements in digital caries detection...


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