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    The state of dental technology in 2018

    Taking a look at current technology trends in the dental industry — and what the future holds.

    As former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said, “Change is inevitable. Change is constant.” While that quote may hold personal meaning for some, it’s quite apropos for the business world. In order for an industry or sector to grow and thrive, change must take place. Often, technological advancements serve as a driving force for that change.

    Dentistry is a prime example of how technology is changing the scope of an industry. From advancements in 3D printing to digital impressions to cloud-based software, technology is molding every aspect of the dental industry.

    We spoke with several industry experts to get their perspective on the greatest areas of change that have shaped the current state of dental technology and what this growth means for the future of the industry.

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    Digital impressions

    Digital impressions have made a big impact on the industry, especially for dentists doing chairside dentistry. Intraoral scanners currently on the market are engineered to produce highly accurate and detailed scans, leading to higher clinical success rates and streamlined workflows. Patient comfort is also enhanced since there’s no need to bite into a tray of gooey impression material.

    Dr. John Flucke, technology editor for Dental Products Report, considers digital impressions one of the largest areas of advancement for the dental industry.

    “The chairside units have evolved tremendously,” says Dr. Flucke, who has a private practice in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. “Back in the day, most took a series of individual pictures that were taken by using a foot pedal to capture the image. While those worked adequately, the speed and convenience factor was lacking.

    Now, the units take hundreds or thousands of images automatically in a matter of seconds, pulling in tons more data that allows the software to create renderings that are so accurate, it’s almost beyond comprehension.”

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    Dental technologyMany scanners can also determine if and where data is missing and indicate to the clinician where to add to the scan. “This allows for a pretty much seamless acquisition,” Dr. Flucke says. “Many offices are reporting full dual-arch scans being accomplished in easily less than five minutes.”

    Digital impressions also aid in articulation, and Dr. Flucke says he’s optimistic about the implications of this technology.

    “I’m looking forward to being able to merge CBCT imaging with the .STL files created by digital impression systems,” he says. “Imagine virtually articulating a complicated case and working out the entire occlusal scheme by rendering it in 3D on a screen. We are already reaping the benefits of digital impression systems that require very minimal adjustments based on simple articulation. If we could articulate virtually and work out all the occlusal components on an exact replica of the patient’s existing masticatory scheme, adjustments could well be a thing of the past.”

    Up next: 3D printing

    Kristen Mott
    Kristen Mott is the associate editor for Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics.

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