Do you remember what going to the dentist was like in the past – when you were a kid and how afraid you were? The sound of the dentist’s drill made you shiver. And that strange antiseptic smell? No matter how nice the dentists were (they even gave you a lollipop) it was a harrowing experience. But that was years ago.
Times have changed and going to the dentist has also changed. Despite the COVID pandemic, which was especially challenging for the dental industry, the practice has made leaps and bounds in the way patients are treated and how teeth are cleaned and repaired.
New composites are one of the biggest advances. A composite is the filling that is used to repair a tooth that is cracked or decayed. Old composites were painful to fill, they wore out quickly and were toxic. New composites are tooth-colored, esthetic, and non-toxic and they have long-lasting results.
Dental drills have improved significantly. Old drills worked at a slow speed and were noisy and painful. New drills are high speed with a turbine motor, and a cooling water spray system, and are quiet and less painful.
Pain has often been associated with dentists. Those days are coming to an end. Air abrasion or micro-abrasion removes tooth decay without the friction of a drill or the pain that comes with it. Even a dreaded abscess tooth can be treated quickly and painlessly.
Sedation dentistry is common practice these days. It relieves the fear, anxiety, and pain of an operation. It comes in many forms; nitrous oxide (laughing gas), oral sedation with medications like Valium or Halcion, and IV sedation. Novocain is still used in sedation dentistry, but you won’t feel the injection because you will be asleep.
Now let’s go to the future. Thanks to technology that’s transforming the dental industry at a rapid pace, the future is very exciting. There will be no more injections, no drills, no cavities, permanent bright white teeth, and lower costs.
3D printing, artificial intelligence, and self-healing teeth will make dentistry easier for both doctors and patients. “Hydrophilic“ (water-friendly) sealants will strengthen enamel and seal teeth and gums against bacteria. “Biologically active” restorations will fill your cavity using stem cells to rebuild the tooth and a 3-D printer to make a cap while you wait. “Biomaterials” will allow a cavity to heal itself. Lasers will replace drills and eliminate bleeding, sutures, pain, and the need for anesthesia.
Nanobots could change dentistry and medicine forever. These microscopic machines could restore and straighten teeth, plus perform innumerable tasks that would be difficult for a dentist to perform.
Perhaps the most intriguing new idea is growing a brand-new set of teeth altogether. Imagine that. Our adult teeth would fall out in midlife, then a new set of teeth would grow in to replace them. With stem cells, you might be able to do this. It is still far off in the future, and it might put dentists out of business, so who knows if this will ever be a reality.
Dentistry has come a long way and it’s going to go even further as technology becomes more advanced. One thing is certain – you will not be afraid to go to the dentist anymore.