Originally published in 2022, updated for new dental technology in 2023
The dental industry is going digital and finally catching up with the modern world. While it’s unlikely that you’ll have robotic staff or AI-predictive scheduling tomorrow (or ever?), there are emerging technologies that can improve patient and staff experience right now. Read on for the best in dental technology for 2023.
Becoming a more modern practice is similar to setting up any office. You should weigh benefit against cost when updating and curating the right technology stack, because there are dozens of transformative technologies for every part of treatment, but only certain upgrades that fit the scale, speed, and temperament of your practice.
From intraoral scanners and laser cavity detection to the toothbrushes you recommend patients use at home, here are the most exciting new technologies to merge with your traditional care practices to increase productivity, improve patient experience, and drive more business in the long run.
While there are dozens of transformative digital technologies, seven, in particular, are must-haves for any dental office that seeks to increase productivity and attract new patients.
Best dental technology for 2023
#1 Intraoral scanners
With intraoral scanners, we can finally say goodbye to the uncomfortable, gag-inducing, time-consuming, error-prone practice of physical mold impressions.
Taking physical impressions has been one of the necessary (and unpleasant) hallmarks of modern dentistry. For generations of dentists, mold impressions have been needed to make dentures, implants, and orthodontic appliances.
- For patients – The mold impressions can be uncomfortable, especially for patients with a strong gag reflex.
- For dentists – The process is prone to error, time-consuming, and requires back and forth with the dental lab.
Intraoral scanners are the solution to this dental problem.
With a handheld intraoral device like the one Dandy provides, a dentist rapidly scans a patient’s oral cavity to create a perfect data render of the patient’s mouth. This scan turns into a 3D digital dental model that can then be used to create high-quality dental products, including dentures and crowns. And while this technology is more accurate and comfortable than physical impressions, it also skips the back and forth with labs, by leveraging intelligent processing for rapid scanning and high-precision accuracy. If you have yet to adopt, this is the top pick to catch up to the hottest dental technology in 2023.
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#2 CAD/CAM technology
The next piece of the Intraoral scanning puzzle is computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) technologies. With CAD/CAM dentistry, we can rapidly design and fabricate complex restorations that to fit, feel, and look better.
Thanks to CAD/CAM digitalization, dental treatment processes that used to take weeks to complete can now be done in hours. After the lab receives the 3D model, they can make minor tweaks to ensure proper spacing and alignment.
When it comes to what can increase productivity in a dental office, together, intraoral scanners and CAD/CAM advanced dental technology reduce patient chair time and improve patient experiences and outcomes.
#3 Laser detection
One of the results of more widespread fluoride use over time is stronger enamel, which is great — one small caveat is that harder outside enamel may make it more difficult to detect early caries, especially in x-rays.
Enter laser detection, which in many cases is over 90% accurate in finding decay not found with an explorer or bitewing x-rays. Painless, non-invasive, and working without X-ray exposure, laser detection can help you patients with early detection and give your practice more data-driven, reliable measurements.
#4 Digital radiography
X-rays are still widely used across the dental industry for daily operations. But traditional x-rays relied on film processing. That was a slow and costly process that also required dental offices to physically store and share the copies.
Direct digital radiography has changed that. This advanced form of X-Ray inspection quickly renders digital radiographic images on a computer screen.
A dental professional can take digital x-rays both inside (intraorally) and outside (extraorally) of the mouth. Once scanned, that file is then stored in a physical server or the cloud, making for much easier dissemination.
Other advantages of this dental technology include:
- Reduced exposure times
- Real-time dental applications
- Improved detail, SNR, and linearity
- Ease of storage and transfer
- Immediate feedback
The ideal dental relationship has historically taken place face to face (masked face to open mouth, if we’re being specific), but technological advances make it possible for dentists to communicate with patients and even remotely perform examinations with teledentistry.
And while teeth can’t be cleaned and cavities filled over Zoom, teledentistry appointments can extend the reach of your practice, especially in situations not requiring a recommendation of acute care. Not all appointments are created equally, and with the right management and careful application, teledentistry can save you time and your patients travel time by expediting follow-ups, second opinions, or pre-authorizations over a phone, tablet device, or computer.
#6 Zirconia crowns
Dental crowns made of porcelain-fused-to-metal (or full-gold) have been the standard for decades. Materials technology is finally finding superior, non-metal replacements, including zirconia.
It’s hard to fit all of the benefits of these crowns in a small space, but zirconia crowns are:
- Stronger, whether using either a monolithic, layerer, or high-translucency zirconia
- Customizable, as the material when molded is extremely malleable — matching the existing tooth with precision
- Biocompatible, because zirconia is non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and metal-free, meaning little to no negative patient reactions.
- The right color, especially when combined with Dandy’s intraoral scanning technology, with shade-matching workflows..
#7 Digital records and charts
Maintaining comprehensive and accurate patient records is an essential part of general dentistry and to keep up with dental technology in 2023. Diligent record keeping is a vital skill that empowers a dentist to deliver quality patient care and follow-up.
But paperwork can be a significant administrative burden for every dental clinic.
Dental records can contain information about clinical examinations, diagnoses, dental procedures performed, prognosis, and the patient’s medical history. Much of this paperwork consists of highly sensitive, personally identifiable information, which you’re legally required to maintain and safeguard.
Yet, many dental clinics still rely on outdated paper charts and documentation for their record keeping. It’s messy, disorganized, time-consuming, and requires a lot of storage space.
Maintaining digital records is the better, more efficient way. Advantages of electronic dental health records include:
- Easier to maintain and access accurate, up-to-date information about patients at the point of care
- Enables secure sharing of health records with patients or other clinicians
- Reduces costs related to paperwork and administrative burden
- Strengthens privacy and security of patient data
Dental technology 2023: Go Digital with Dandy
The dental world is changing rapidly. Technological advancements in dentistry are spurring that transformation.
With increasing marketplace competition and more demanding patients, a dental clinic can’t afford to simply stick with the status quo—not when their competitors are embracing the digital future. By adopting new dental technology, you can create internal and external efficiencies that empower you to better serve your patients.
That’s where Dandy comes in.
Our platform is designed to modernize dental practices by making their entire process digital — from start to finish. With intraoral scanners and CAD/CAM design, our goal is to create lift in everything you do.
Have you considered going digital? Dandy can help you get started today.
Journal of the American Dental Association. Intraoral Scanners. https://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177(21)00312-3/fulltext
NCBI. Understanding Dental CAD/CAM for Restorations—Accuracy from a Mechanical Engineering Viewpoint. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26734668/
International Atomic Energy Agency. Digital Radiography. https://www.iaea.org/resources/rpop/health-professionals/radiology/radiography/digital-radiography
Health IT. Advantages of Electronic Health Records. https://www.healthit.gov/faq/what-are-advantages-electronic-health-records