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But what is digital dentistry?

Defined as any dental technology or device that incorporates digital or computer-controlled components, it commonly comes into practice with the use of computer aided design or manufacturing. A less common application is the delivery of computer-controlled nitrous oxide.

List of digital dentistry applications:

  1. CAD/CAM and intraoral imaging — both laboratory- and clinician-controlled
  2. Caries diagnosis
  3. Computer-aided implant dentistry — including design and fabrication of surgical guides
  4. Digital radiography — intraoral and extraoral, including cone beam computed tomography (CBCT)
  5. Electric and surgical/implant handpieces
  6. Lasers
  7. Occlusion and TMJ analysis and diagnosis
  8. Photography — extraoral and intraoral
  9. Practice and patient record management — including digital patient education
  10. Shade matching

Why are we playing catch up?

Reviewing other industries and past advances suggest that there is a 25 year lag time – meaning it takes us as humans, who are naturally sceptic of change, almost a quarter of a century to accept and adopt new technology.

In comparison to other industries, dentistry is extremely small when in comes to financial revenue, capital market growth and outward facing investors.

Due to this, there is a reluctance to develop and integrate these emerging tools into the dental industry as – simply put – there doesn’t seem to be enough faith in financial return to make substantial investments.

Yet, despite there being newer and better technologies being used in other sectors, today’s dentistry is at the forefront of technology available within the industry.

Overall, as trends indicate a shift towards the practices of digital dentistry – which are becoming more adopted worldwide, the question again is not whether clinicians should adopt these modern technologies, but when.

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