From the ancient times, when cultures of the world were known to substitute missing dentition with shells, stones, and ivory, to the many iterations of the actual dental implant, the most recent and prevailing standard being titanium, the advances in dentistry are undeniable.
Dr. Jumoke Adedoyin
However, even with all the indisputable advances, most dentists in the industry probably would not have predicted the degree in which the introduction of digital technology would completely revolutionize the way we practice today. In doing so, these pioneers have made our jobs as clinicians less complicated, more enjoyable, and predictable.
When I began my career as a young general dentist, I used a panoramic radiograph and bone gauge as my only tools for implant treatment planning. Back then, our mindset was, “only surgeons with extensive post-dental school training and experience should place implants.”
But thanks to and with the help of CBCT diagnostic tools and digital treatment planning being introduced into mainstream dentistry, general practitioners like me can now predictably, surgically place and restore implants to improve the quality of life for our patients.
With cone beam technology, it’s much easier to preplan cases, avoid unnecessary complications, reduce surgical time, and have predictable restorative results. In addition, many patients who may not have been considered qualified candidates for implant treatment within a general practice can now benefit from this life-changing technology.
Digital technology has put general dentists in the driver’s seat when it pertains to both the surgical and restorative phases of their patients’ care. Gone are the days of trying to restore a case where the implants were placed “where there was bone.”
This is a good thing, considering one of the most populous generations, the baby boomers, also known as the “Me Generation,” are actively seeking out the best in technology and medicine to maintain a youthful appearance and lifestyle. Their dental care is no exception. Many general dentists are finding themselves having to step outside of the restorative box and into the rehabilitation mindset as they tackle some of the more pronounced challenges of varying degrees of edentulism.
As a dentist who places implants every day in my practice, I have found that utilizing surgical guides has been very advantageous. Whether presented with challenges relating to bone quality, quantity, or esthetic considerations, modern technology has provided me with a plan for predictable outcomes by placing the implants in a virtual environment before I initiate treatment in the mouth.
While this technology isn’t useful in every case, with proper training, it provides a solution for accurate implant placement, and it is an attractive option when dealing with the medically compromised patients. The patients get what they need using a safe, less invasive procedure, and the dentist reduces chair time — thus, increasing productivity.
With increased technological innovations, the future of implant dentistry is excitingly bright as it continually evolves and presents with the opportunity to be a part of changing the lives of our patients in ways that we never imagined, and I just can’t wait!
Dr. Jumoke Adedoyin