Dental Technology in the New Dental Clinic

  • Published
  • By Col. John A. Safar and Chief Master Sgt. Lee Lannen
  • 21st Dental Squadron

There is a multitude of equipment in every dental clinic. It’s this equipment, as well as advances in dental procedures, which allow your dentist to provide you with the highest quality oral health care. With today’s technologies, dentists are equipped to manage your dental health, all while ensuring your safety and comfort. Some of the new technologies include implants, cone beam and computer-assisted design and computer-assisted manufacturing.

A dental implant is a screw type post, usually made of titanium, which serves as a substitute for a natural tooth root. The implant is placed in the jawbone so it can fuse with the natural bone to become a sturdy foundation to replace the missing tooth. Implants can be used to replace individual teeth or to support a bridge or denture containing multiple teeth. Since surgery is required, implant patients must be in good general health, with healthy gums and adequate bone structure. If an implant site lacks the adequate structure such as enough bone, a dentist may be able to perform procedures to improve it. Additionally, those who use tobacco may not be good candidates for implants. Your dentist will take into consideration your medical and dental history when deciding if implants are right for you.

Cone-beam computed tomography imaging is a special type of x-ray equipment used to help your dentist plan for dental implants, evaluate abnormal teeth, and diagnose cavities when dental x-rays are not sufficient. This X-ray machine is designed to rotate around your head, capturing data using a cone-shaped X-ray beam and giving your dentist a 3-D view of your teeth, mouth, and jaw. This technology is relatively easy to use and accuracy is high. The focused x-ray beam reduces scatter radiation, resulting in better image quality. A single scan produces a wide variety of views and angles that can be manipulated to provide a more complete evaluation. CBCT scanning is painless and noninvasive. A major advantage of CBCT is its ability to image bone and soft tissue at the same time. No radiation remains in a patient's body after a CBCT examination. The end result for dentistry is an affordable means of elevating the level of diagnostic abilities within the dental clinic.

In the past, when you needed a crown, your dentist would make a mold of the tooth and the area surrounding it and send the mold to the dental lab to make the permanent crown. This process would take a week or more, after which the patient, would return to the dental clinic for the final crown placement. However, computer-assisted design and computer-assisted manufacturing technologies speeds up this process by creating a virtual model on a computer. The latest digital cameras records the images automatically in seconds and the dentist has a highly accurate 3-D digital model of your teeth. The fit and finish of crowns created with CAD/CAM are as accurate as those produced in a dental laboratory with the same materials.

Our goal at the 21st Dental Squadron is to provide top dental readiness and dental care in a safe, secure, and clean environment. Recently you may have noticed fencing and contracting buildings positioned around the grounds at the Peterson Dental Clinic. Ground breaking took place May 25 for the new state-of-the-art dental clinic with expected opening in the fall of 2017. A brand new facility has been long coming to offer these new advancements.