Text by Ana Pragosa, DDS and Sérgio Sousa, MD, DDS L
Luckily for all, the experience of sitting in the dentist’s chair has gone through major changes throughout the last decades.
From treatments that resembled middle-age torture, involving noisy, vibrating instruments and a permanent fear of pain, dentistry has progressed into a predictable, comfortable, and almost relaxing medical specialty. So, what’s new and different in this 21st century’s dentistry?
First and foremost, our focus — never has there been such awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy and complete dentition as a way of preserving our general health (both physically and psychologically). Be it through accurate prevention of tooth decay and gum disease, replacing lost teeth with dental implants, or correcting mispositioned teeth — integrated dentistry is the key. Let’s go through some of the major changes in dentistry.
Guided Biofilm Therapy (GBT) — Traditional manual scaling and root planning could make you feel as a hero that just survived a shark attack, but scientific evidence shows that while removing all the nasty things from your teeth, a part of the tooth structure itself, is removed as well. Recently, EMS, a Swiss-based company, launched the GBT protocol which presents itself as an integrated preventive treatment allowing the patient to recognize how he/she can improve their at-home dental care and introduces a new device that grants a systematic gentle cleaning, using air-polishing technology and smart ultrasonic scaling, making it very effective but also very comfortable and pain-free.
Dental implants — when titanium implants were first introduced, back in 1965, they were used in very specific cases and with very little scientific evidence to back them. Half a century later, they are a very important tool in maintaining a healthy, functional dentition that in turn, contributes to good general health. The treatment itself became optimised, backed by thousands of credited scientific papers and that’s good news for everybody. So much has evolved: 3D-planning, new implant surfaces that interact with the bone cells, top-end surgical instruments, new biomaterials and clinical proficiency that allow for success rates very close to 100%. Today, placing a single implant is a calm and rapid procedure and, even larger more complex cases have become much more predictable and patient friendly. Full-arch cases, where a fixed implant supported bridge is delivered on the day of the implant surgery has become our standard of care — the success rates in these cases are extremely-high and the possibility of leaving the office with fixed teeth allows for optimal healing and real comfort.
Clear aligners — Orthodontic treatments can be preventive of many diseases, both at young ages as in adults — the correction of misaligned teeth contributes towards proper eating, breathing, posture, among many other benefits. However, even though orthodontic treatments are increasingly common, many people would rather not get traditional braces because of their obvious appearance and discomfort. Clear aligners are not exactly invisible, but they are so discreet that during average, day-to-day contacts they are imperceptible. They’re removed before any meal, which allows for a healthy social life at all times.
We could give many other examples besides these, but to sum everything up, the take home message is that the dentistry we practice today has the complete well-being of the patient at heart.