Embrace digital dentistry

22 November 2020
2 min read
Published:

Kasia Jawor looks at the benefits digital technology is bringing in a new era of
dentistry.

Digital technology is nothing new in dentistry, but since the pandemic its far-reaching potential has become even more obvious, helping to remodel clinical practices and put businesses back on the road to recovery.

Changing times
As dental services gradually recover, clinical procedures are having to change significantly to comply with a Covid-secure environment, including the need to minimise the use of aerosol generating procedures (AGPs), and reduce the time that patients spend in the dental chair.

The allowance for fallow time following AGPs is reducing practices’ capacity, and as a consequence there remains a large backlog of patients awaiting dental treatment post-lockdown. This is just one area in which digital technology can be integrated into practice workflows, aiding the speed of diagnosis and treatment by offering the opportunity to increase practice efficiency in a meaningful way.

Improving efficiency
With patient and staff safety a top priority, preventing the spread of infection is uppermost in clinicians’ minds. At the same time, many patients are concerned about returning for dental treatment in the current climate and understandably want to spend as little time as possible in the surgery.

In both these aspects, digitisation provides significant benefits. The taking of analogue impressions is one of the most time-consuming routine dental procedures and it is often an uncomfortable experience that carries an inherent risk of cross infection, involving the manual handling of multiple items and close face-to-face contact.

Using an intraoral scanner to obtain impressions not only reduces the processes and working time when compared to an analogue option, it is also a more pleasant experience for the patient and with no physical impression materials to disinfect, it helps to minimise the risk of transmission. For example, with the Primescan from Dentsply Sirona infection control is assured by having three different sleeve options, all of which produce the same scan performance and can be disinfected, autoclaved or disposed of after use.

The patient experience
A full chairside solution that integrates scanning, design and manufacture, all within the practice, is a timely response to patient demands and ensures full clinical safety. CAD/CAM techniques also enable minimally invasive treatment. The precision of the final restoration means conservative preparations, using minimal aerosol generation and without the need for temporaries.

The accuracy of today’s digital scans helps to greatly reduce the need for remakes, lessens the need for adjustments and therefore minimises the overall chair time.

Expanding treatment
A digitally enabled practice offers an integrated workflow in which multi-disciplinary dentistry can work seamlessly to increase patient confidence, save on treatment time and reduce the need for repeated appointments.

The consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic will continue to present significant challenges for the dental profession for the foreseeable future, however, manufacturers are working hard to deliver the technology that will help practice teams return to work and provide the safest and most effective methods of delivering dental care to their patients. Now is the time to embrace digital technology and invest in the future, today.