Dental tech trends that are changing the industry
As years go by, the dental industry is evolving at a rapid pace. Going to a dentist today is much different than it was 30 years ago. These days, dentists have access to high-tech tools that provide patients with increased levels of comfort and precision. The current dental trends involve utilizing AI (artificial intelligence), 3D and laser technologies, teledentistry, etc. Patients now even have access to the best invisible aligners on the market, which has almost revolutionized the dental industry. In this article, we are going to explore all the dental tech trends that are changing the industry, how they affect patients, and why they are here to stay.
Top dental tech trends of today
Research shows that the U.S. dental market’s worth was valued at US$ 109.28 billion in 2020, and it is projected to double in the next seven years. Due to the fact that dental diseases and periodontal illnesses increased in recent years, the dental industry is evolving to adapt to the higher demand. And with the technology all but “ruling” today’s world, these new tech trends seem to be the answer. Here are some of the top dental tech trends today:
- Digital impressions
- Dental 3D technology
- Laser technology
- Dental radiology
- Emotional dentistry
- Virtual reality
- Artificial intelligence
Digital impressions form the basis of pretty much any dental procedure of today. A digital impression captures an imitation of the mouth, making it possible for dentists to create dental solutions that are tailored to a person’s unique situation. With sophisticated software behind them, digital impressions can help experts create bridges and crowns much more accurately and quicker than ever before.
While not every dentist utilizes digital impressions, it is becoming more and more common to use them. The reason for the increasing rate of adoption is the fact that, when utilized correctly, digital impressions increase efficiency and productivity while offering an extremely high degree of accuracy.
Furthermore, they are quite convenient because a digital impression can be simply emailed to your dental laboratory instead of it being sent by conventional courier or mail. Most dentists that utilize dental impressions offer same-day dental restorations, eliminating the need to visit the dentist’s office more than once.
A few additional benefits of digital impressions include:
- Improved impression quality
- Less chair time
- Far more pleasant for some patients (eliminates gag reflexes and some anxiety issues)
- Fewer remakes
- Easily stored and accessible, creating far less paperwork
- Faster turnaround times
- Can be magnified and evaluated by the dentist on the spot
And, of course, digital impressions are the base for the following dental tech trend.
Dental 3D technology
Until recently, 3D printers were just a “gimmick”. In other words, they were not sophisticated enough for dental purposes. But the 3D printers of today are capable of producing all sorts of dental tools such as tooth replacements, custom aligners, and crowns, with amazing precision. Furthermore, 3D printers are also capable of creating unique surgical tools, making it easier for dentists to do their work. Some dental procedures, for example, all but require custom drill guides, something that can be 3D printed.
The use of 3D printers, admittedly, brings nothing brand new to the dental industry but this is one of the dental tech trends that shortens the process considerably. Before 3D printing, patients needed to wait for a long time to get their replacement teeth. Lastly, 3D-printed dental products are much cheaper than their traditional counterparts, meaning that more people have easy access to them.
While lasers may have been in “circulation” since 1994, they were simply not as precise as the lasers of today. Today, dentists utilize laser technology to fix tooth decay, gum diseases, as well as teeth whitening. The way that the technology works is by vaporizing tissue with the power of light energy. Dentists utilize lasers for both soft and hard tissue procedures.
The main benefit of laser technology is the fact that it inflicts far less damage to gums, and patients heal much quicker. Furthermore, using lasers in procedures results in patients losing less blood, all but eliminating the need for sutures. Then there’s the reduced risk of bacterial infections due to the sterilizing effect of the lasers. Lastly, patients will need fewer medications and antibiotics after the treatment, resulting in a much smoother dental experience.
Due to the advent of COVID-19, telemedicine is gaining a huge amount of popularity. People are afraid of visiting medical offices and institutions, resulting in fewer appointments. But with telemedicine companies (teledentistry in this case), patients can receive their routine check-ups from the comfort of their own homes. Do note, however, that any routine that involves a physical procedure still requires a visit to the dentist’s office.
According to a report by the RAND corporation, roughly 50% of US adults delayed seeking dental care since the COVID-19 pandemic. By utilizing the power of teledentistry, these people can both stay safe and receive the dental help that they may require.
Additionally, people that live in rural areas now have access to some dental services that they previously did not have. Even in the case of emergencies, a dentist can utilize teledentistry to provide the patient with advice on what to do. This has proven to be invaluable in some cases, further solidifying this emerging tech trend.
The requirements for teledentistry are quite lax, as a person only needs to have an internet connection. The dentist and the patient can then communicate via a video call through special software, or even through their phones. Video calls are slowly replacing ordinary calls in any case, meaning that more and more people have access to them.
Most dental problems require oral examinations. But some problems go beyond what is visible and may require special equipment to diagnose. In these cases, dental radiology provides the answer. Dental radiology equipment is capable of examining the inner parts of the mouth that cannot be seen, enhancing the dentist’s ability to diagnose the issue. While radiology equipment is not new by any stretch of the imagination, the recent high-quality radiographic materials provide an unparalleled precision for dental images. As far as dental tech trends go, this one is here to stay.
What is stopping this particular trend from growing too fast is the fact that some people are simply not comfortable with radiographic images. That is why dentists have not fully made the switch from traditional film. But as more and more people are educated on radiography, we believe that this particular trend will gain popularity more and more in the years to come.
The dental industry is all about smiles. It’s for a good reason, too, as we are emotionally attached to the way we smile. When we don’t like it, it can lead to us expressing ourselves less and even avoiding smiling altogether.
Emotional dentistry is an exciting new tech trend that provides patients with the ability to visualize their smiles after the dental procedure with the help of computer software. This trend helps improve the patient experience and it can help calm patients’ nerves, as they will be able to see the results first-hand before even taking the procedure. This practice is most commonly used in cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics, and emergency dentistry procedures, but it has its place in every dentist’s office.
Geofencing is a term that symbolizes the use of GPS and mobile technology to push text messages, notifications, and various offers to people that are in physical proximity to the business. In the dental industry, geofencing is mostly used to remind people that they are due for their next appointment or to advise them of new services.
Geofencing is not really an emerging trend, as it has been used by businesses for several years now. But with most people having a smartphone/tablet these days, it is becoming increasingly important. This trend is compatible with more than 92% of current mobile devices and experiences a much higher response rate. For example, 209% more people respond to texts rather than phone calls. Texts also have a 99% open rate and most people opt-in for them via push notification.
The fact of the matter is that many children and adults fear visiting the dentist. Thus, most dentists try to figure out a way to make patients feel more welcoming when they arrive for their appointment. In recent years, dentists are starting to figure out that virtual reality devices can be of huge help when it comes to calming patient anxieties. Some studies show that using VR may lead to less pain and anxiety in patients, and it may even eliminate the need for sedation and pain medication in some cases. It is definitely one of the dental tech trends that are gaining popularity very fast.
Furthermore, having a VR experience is a lot of fun for most patients. Most patients will become so engrossed in their own “private world”, all but eliminating all fear and anxiety. This, in turn, leads to many more patients being willing to sit in the dentist’s chair, improving the overall dental health of the nation.
Virtual reality, however, is still a “work-in-progress”. There are still some significant drawbacks to it (e.g. motion sickness) and it is not suitable for everyone. But as years go by, we predict that virtual reality is going to become much more prominent in our everyday lives. And that includes visiting the dentist. In the future, you can expect almost every dentist’s office to offer a VR experience.
The most interesting, and probably the most prominent, new tech trend is artificial intelligence. The use of AI is transforming the dental industry, making it less painful, less invasive, and much more effective. AI technology also offers patients with better long-term results. The technology is most commonly used for assisting technicians in making various dental materials, but it has other benefits that are slowly changing the entire dental industry.
First, AI technology is capable of handling advanced dental restorations. Things like bridges and crowns with a perfect fit and ideal function are much more common now. Also, AI helps in creating dental materials that look and feel very realistic. This, in turn, helps the patients with their smiles and their confidence.
Then there’s the fact that AI brings large benefits when it comes to elderly patients’ care. With age, the need for high-quality prosthodontics is much higher, after all. What AI does is drastically improve the outcomes of these prosthodontics, making following visits to the dentist much less likely. Also, being able to replace missing or lost teeth easily is a huge improvement.
While you might connect artificial intelligence with doing work instead of humans, it is actually not the case. You still need a dentist to perform the procedure. But what AI does is help analyze radiographs, dental images, etc., and provide dentists with much more information than they ever had. This leads to a higher percentage of successful procedures and an overall higher quality of dental care.
AI in dental imaging
We’ve mentioned how dental imaging is a dental tech trend in and of itself. In combination with artificial intelligence, these dental images are analyzed almost to perfection. This allows the dentists to create enhanced treatment plans and suggest the best course of action for the patient. Through integration with AI, imaging systems provide an excellent way to detect abnormalities that the human eye simply cannot see. Furthermore, it cuts down on the time it takes to analyze these images. Meaning that the dentists can spend less time looking at them and more time actually doing the procedures. This, in turn, leads to lower dental costs as dentists have more free time.
With how fast technology is progressing, we simply cannot know what the future will bring. Will these dental tech trends stand the test of time? If you want to be up-to-date with all the trends in the dental industry, browse Consumer Opinion Guide from time to time. We will keep track of all the new and exciting developments, as well as provide you with an up-to-date list of some of the best dental companies in the industry.