As children, a trip to the dentist was often a misunderstood experience, and dental health, while important, often took a backseat to other health-related checkups. As we grow, however, we understand the importance of oral health in our overall well-being.
As our understanding develops, so too do techniques in dentistry, with the inclusion of the airway and new medical technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and oral appliances. Dentists and medical providers are doing all they can to push the limits of healthcare, joining forces, and continuing to invent better, more efficient, and cost-effective solutions.
Interested in the future of medical technology? Dentists and medical providers are on the verge of some incredible advancements. Let’s hop into some of the big ones.
When we mention AI, it’s often about robots and futuristic beings. However, AI covers a broad spectrum of technologies, from consumer electronics to tools in healthcare. In the field of dentistry, medical providers use AI for voice recognition in diagnostic imaging. This enables dentists to move with efficiency and focus on the task at hand versus needing to remove their gloves, view additional images, sanitize, and put on new gloves before proceeding. Bottom line, AI serves as infection control and a tool to improve efficiency in the workplace.
AI technology can also help dentists diagnose quicker and treat dental conditions better. It can detect dental decay, oral cancer, and periodontal disease using diagnostic imaging and algorithms. This paves the way for quicker, better treatments, which lead to happier and healthier patients.
We’ve all been in a situation where we need to schedule an appointment with a medical provider only to find out that they are booked out months in advance. Teledentistry solves this problem by providing equal access to dental healthcare via technology. It’s accessible and cheaper, and it connects the patient with the professional quickly and simply.
We have seen a drastic rise in teledentistry during the COVID-19 pandemic. “During the COVID-19 outbreak, many states changed the scope of practice guidelines to allow the reimbursement and utilization of teledentistry, seeing it as an effective way to increase the practice hours and availability while limiting the number of people in the office at any one time,” said Dr. Nathan Suter, a teledentistry consultant.
Virtual appointments can include the following:
Reviewing insurance claims
Pre- and post-op instructions
3D printing is all the rage these days. Custom printing means specific solutions for each unique individual, and digital printing increases efficiency and quality while lowering costs. 3D printers can produce orthodontic models, crowns, aligners, retainers, dentures, and more. This allows practitioners to cut down on time and cost while also reducing the cost for patients. Companies such as Invisalign, for example, have already jumped on this new technology. They offer patients an alternative solution to braces, straightening teeth at home using clear retainers.
Oral appliance therapy is a broad term covering a wide range of dental solutions for snoring, sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), mild-to-moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), grinding, and clenching. The device fits much like a retainer and is minimal and portable. The Vivos System, for example, offers patients a new solution with the mRNA appliance® which has 510(k) clearance from the FDA as a Class II medical device for the treatment of snoring, mild-to-moderate OSA, and SDB.
The importance of oral health in our overall well-being cannot be understated. Our understanding of and techniques in dentistry are changing too, with the inclusion of the airway and alternative solutions to previously misunderstood problems. With innovative solutions for unique issues on the horizon, from AI technology to teledentistry, 3D printing, and oral appliances, it is a revolutionary time in healthcare.