Digital Dentistry: Bringing The Digital World into Your Dental Practice

By: Dr. David Rice

Digital dentistry has entirely transformed the way dental procedures are performed today.

From dental x-rays, to dental crowns, to dental implants and more, today’s advanced technology offers incredible patient benefits you need to know about.

What is Digital Dentistry?

Digital dentistry is an emerging field of dentistry that incorporates digital technologies and devices into the diagnosis, treatment planning, and execution of dental procedures.

This includes the use of computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software, digital radiography, intraoral scanners, 3D printing, and other digital technologies.

Types of Digital Dentistry

1. Digital X-Rays

Digital X-rays are a type of digital dentistry that uses digital sensors to capture and store images of a patient’s teeth and gums. These images can be viewed on a computer screen and shared with patients, making it easier to explain dental conditions and treatment options. Digital X-rays are faster, safer, and more accurate than traditional X-rays.

2. Digital Impressions

Digital impressions are a type of digital dentistry that uses 3D scanning technology to create a digital model of a patient’s teeth and gums. This technology eliminates the need for traditional impressions, which can be uncomfortable and messy. Digital impressions provide more accurate and precise measurements for dental restorations such as crowns, bridges, and implants.

3. CAD/CAM Technology

CAD/CAM (computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing) technology is a type of digital dentistry that uses computer software to design and manufacture dental restorations. With CAD/CAM technology, dentists can create crowns, bridges, and implants in-office, eliminating the need for multiple dental appointments. This technology provides more precise and accurate dental restorations and reduces the risk of errors.

4. Intraoral Cameras

Intraoral cameras are a type of digital dentistry that use small cameras to capture images of a patient’s teeth and gums. These images can be viewed on a computer screen and shared with patients, making it easier to explain dental conditions and treatment options. Intraoral cameras also help dentists detect dental problems earlier, leading to more effective treatment.

5. Digital Smile Design

Digital Smile Design is a type of digital dentistry that uses computer software to design a patient’s smile. With Digital Smile Design, dentists can show patients what their smile will look like after cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening, veneers, or orthodontics. This technology helps patients visualize their treatment options and choose the best option for their needs.

Benefits of Digital Dentistry for Patients

Here are a few of the top benefits of digital dentistry for you as a dental patient.

1. Increased Accuracy and Precision

Those are two different words with two different meanings. In short as a patient, you want a dental practice that has invested in digital technology that brings you both. With the right tech, your dentist can capture 2D and 3D images of your teeth to better diagnose cavities, gum disease, and hidden pathology that were challenging to see in the past.

2. Increased Comfort

Digital dentistry can eliminate all those wonderful impression materials you know and don’t love. Say goodbye to mouthfuls of goop. Say goodbye to holding it open for 3-7 minutes at a time. Today’s digital scanners allow your dentist to capture your teeth faster and easier. And if you need to take a rest before they’re finished-no worries-raise a hand-your dentist can stop and resume when you’re ready without missing a beat.

3. Decreased Radiation

Regular dental x-rays are important. Too many patients who delay or avoid them wind up spending twice as much time, money, and discomfort on their care. That said, your digital dentist understands you don’t want unnecessary exposure. Here’s the great news, today’s digital x-rays give you up to 80% LESS exposure than traditional x-rays. So don’t worry-just ask your dentist and make sure they have upgraded to digital technology.

4. Faster Care

Your dentist knows how much you enjoy spending your not-so-free time with them. Digital dentistry gives them the ability to fast-track your care without any compromise. We’ve already mentioned scanning above. Today’s digital dental practice also allows you to get crowns in a day. It speeds up the dental implant process-having dentures made and even sleep and bite appliances. Almost every dental procedure you’ve performed in the past can be expedited in time, as well as the number of appointments needed.

5. Improved Aesthetics

Today’s digital dentist can take images of you and predict, as well as show you, your future smile. Whether it involves orthodontically moving your teeth with clear aligners or how you’d look with whitening, bonding, porcelain veneers, or crowns, every health-driven and cosmetic dental procedure you might want or need can be predicted in advance. That’s reassuring!

6. Better Communication

Your dentist is just like your physician. They need to communicate with other dentists, physicians, and labs. Having your entire healthcare team on the same page is critical. Today’s digital technology radically improves that communication. It allows your dentist to share 3D x-rays, photographs, and diagnostic tools so each provider can contribute to giving you and your family the best available care. It also allows each one of those providers to share their thoughts and advice with you. The more you know as a patient, the better the care you will receive.

7. Increased Access

Not every patient lives or works conveniently near their dentist or dental specialist. Whether it’s the distance that keeps you apart or finding the time to get to your dentist, digital technology can help. You and your dental professional team can look at and discuss your needs remotely saving time off work-travel time and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of digital dentistry?

Digital dentistry provides more accurate and efficient treatments, reduces the risk of errors, and allows dentists to provide more personalized care to their patients.

Is digital dentistry safe?

Yes, digital dentistry is safe and has been approved by regulatory agencies such as the FDA.

Is digital dentistry more expensive than traditional dentistry?

Digital dentistry may be more expensive upfront, but it can save patients money in the long run by reducing the need for multiple dental appointments and providing more accurate treatments.

Digital Dentistry Improves Overall Dental Care

Summing up, digital dentistry offers a multitude of reasons for you as a patient and yours truly as a dentist, to smile.

We can deliver your care safer, faster, and better in too many ways to share in one read.

Be sure to ask your dentist what digital technologies they have to improve your overall level of care.

David Rice

David Rice

Founder of the nation’s largest student and new-dentist community, igniteDDS, David R. Rice, DDS, travels the world speaking, writing, and connecting today’s top young dentists with tomorrow’s most successful dental practices. He is the editorial director of DentistryIQ and leads a team-centered restorative and implant practice in East Amherst, New York. With 27 years of practice in the books, Dr. Rice is trained at the Pankey Institute, the Dawson Academy, Spear Education, and most prolifically at the school of hard knocks.