The evolution of dentistry: What dentists say the biggest changes have been

Issue 4

In a recent survey,  Chicago Dental Society members were asked about changes in dental care, tips for parents and more. Nearly 200 of the society's member dentists responded.

In a recent survey,  Chicago Dental Society members were asked about changes in dental care, tips for parents and more. Nearly 200 of the society's member dentists responded.

Here are some of the findings:

A lot has changed in 150 years! What has been the biggest dental advancement? The No. 1 answer provided by surveyed dentists was dental implants, which have drastically improved over the years. The use of local anesthesia in dental procedures followed close behind and the fluoridation of public water supplies was third.

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Dentists can't live without their X-ray machines. There is a lot of technology in your dentist's office, but when asked which tech item they rely on the most, X-rays and digital radiographs were the top answers. Whether for digital charting or office management, the computer was the second most provided answer in our survey. The curing light, the blue light which hardens fillings, sealants, and cements, came in at a distant third.

Dentists to parents: Cut back on sugar. When asked what the most harmful mistake parents make regarding their children's oral health, letting them eat too much candy or sweetened beverages was the No. 1 mistake (36 percent), while not brushing their teeth before bed (31 percent) was a close second. Not visiting the dentist rounded out the top three (24 percent).

Dentists offer supportive care to treat children with autism. Providing thorough explanations implementing the "tell, show, do" technique and creating a routine are also helpful approaches to ensure positive dental visits.  Communicating with parents to learn about the child's likes and aversions is integral to providing specialized treatments for the patients. 

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Chicago-area dentists love giving back. 60 percent of those surveyed said they offer some free dental services for patients in need. For those who provide these services, the most popular forms are:

  • Volunteering at a charity or nonprofit center and providing free dental care (45 percent)

  • Offering a free dental care day at their practice (37 percent)

  • Partnering with various dentists or dental practices to offer free dental care (14 percent)

  • Visiting schools and providing free dental care (13 percent)

Dentists all agree - fluoridated water is a must. It's nearly unanimous, 99% of dentists surveyed said that they support water fluoridation.

Add flossing to your to-do list. It's the #1 oral health practice patients forget to do. According to the survey data, two-thirds of dentists cite flossing as the most forgotten oral care practice. Brushing at least twice a day (10 percent) and using the proper brushing technique (6 percent) were other important habits patients tend to forget.

Go Cubs Go! Clark has the best Chicago sports team mascot smile. Almost half of surveyed dentists (43 percent) said that Clark's smile is the best. He defeats his fellow mascots:

  • Sky Guy (23 percent)

  • Southpaw (16 percent)

  • Tommy Hawk (5 percent)

  • Benny the Bull (4 percent)

  • Skates the Gray Wolf (4 percent)

  • Staley Da Bear (4 percent)

  • Sparky (0 percent)

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