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Digital Dentistry brightens dental implants

Digital Dentistry has come of age with chair side CAD/CAM (computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing)  technology  that offers same day in-office restorations.

This comes at a time when marketing campaigns, cinema, television, and mass media are reinforcing the desire of patients for an improved overall appearance. Hence, dentists are performing more cosmetically-driven procedures such as all-ceramic crowns and bridges. In order to achieve improved strength and durability, these are now being made with a mineral-derived substance, zirconia.

In the past, all-ceramics were made by hand through a time-consuming and labor-intensive process such that when a patient requires dental restoration, a dentist must take an impression of the patient’s mouth using a tray filled with a soft  putty material, which hardens after a few minutes. This creates a “negative” of the patient’s teeth and jaw from which a stone mould is made. Nowadays, if  CAD/CAM is used, the laboratory simply  takes a digital scan of the stone mould and designs the restoration using the scan.

Digital impression-taking is a new alternative to the traditional tray-and-putty method of taking dental impressions. Dentists can now directly scan a patient’s mouth using a hand-held digital scanning device and send the scan data electronically to a computer. This eliminates many steps of the traditional impression-taking method with many advantages. When an impression is taken digitally, the margin of error is reduced, as there are no impression materials that can shrink, expand, or shift. It is much quicker to take a digital impression. Finally, digital impressions are much more comfortable for the patient.  It is much more precise too with less than 1% of prosthetic devices requiring re-fabrication

A scan model is made from the digital impression or the stone mould. This three-dimensional model is displayed on a computer screen where the dentist or technician designs the restoration which is then milled from a small block usually made of zirconia. Not only is this process much less labor-intensive than the traditional method, it is also more accurate, as human error is minimized.

With Digital Dentistry and the improving track record of all ceramic material and implant based restorations, there has also  been a decrease in multi-unit bridges, dentures, partial dentures  as more patients are opting for single/multiple units dental implants and crown restorations for their superior esthetic quality.

Traditional full denture replaces all the missing teeth and is extremely uncomfortable, as it needs to be  supported by the jawbone up to an area that’s very near the throat. This also has the unpleasant effect of covering up much of the taste buds and severely affecting taste.

Traditional partial denture replaces one or more missing teeth and are replacement teeth connected to a gum-colored supportive base. They are secured to the surrounding natural teeth by either metal clasps or precision attachments.

Traditional fixed bridges, as in a typical three-tooth unit restoration, require two natural  teeth to be modified  as posts to retain a missing tooth.

Today, full dentures can be placed on top of dental implants, a procedure which drastically improves their efficiency. Dental implants can also support full-arch dentures as well as overdentures, which are supported by implants together with natural teeth. Dental implant secured dentures are more comfortable devices and are not as likely to cause bone loss or facial deformation.

As with full dentures, partial dentures can also be placed on top of dental implants. Depending on the need of the patient, it can be used to replace a single tooth where a crown is placed on top of a dental implant or  multiple missing teeth with bridges made entirely of implants or a combination of implants and teeth.

Today, traditional dentures are not recommended if the patient can afford dental implants  because they promote severe bone loss and even facial deformation. Moreover, their lifespan is limited.

Indeed, dental implants are used to replace missing teeth much more effectively and efficiently. Besides preserving bone and greatly reducing facial deformities, dental implants are considered to be the most versatile form of tooth replacement. From an alternative form of treatment years ago to being a treatment of choice, dental implants are now the standard of care for missing teeth.

Today, cutting edge technology enables digital dentistry to be paired with dental implants creating a truly explosive evolution in dental treatment.

Dr. Smile Dental Care and Laser Center, with its newly acquired, made in Germany, Dentsply Cercon System, can operate on the full CAD/CAM systems which include the scanning unit, design software, a milling machine, and a sintering furnace. And soon, Dr. Smile will have the latest technology in 3-Dimensional Printing.  Developed at MIT, this additive technology is a process by which very thin layers of powder are “printed” with a bonding agent only in the areas where the prosthetic is to be formed. This process is repeated until the entire object is built and sintered in a furnace to permanently bond the particles. The main advantage of this technology is that no material is wasted in the manufacturing process, making it truly cost effective.

For more information or to secure an appointment, call +63 (2) 4772710 to 13 or email Dr. Smile is located at The Podium, 4th Level, in Ortigas Center along ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City or at SM City North Edsa, Lower Ground Level, The Annex (phones: +63 (2 )9216883 and 9216913)  or call mobile phones: +63 91751- LASER (52737) and +63 91753 – LASER (52737).