The use of digital technologies is a growing trend in most industries, and dentistry is no exception. More than 90 percent of dental clinics are now working with digital X-ray systems, and it is only a matter of time before all impressions are taken digitally using scanners, believes Dr Andreas Kurbad, who has lectured and taught courses on computer-assisted design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) in dentistry for more than 20 years.
“It’s faster, simpler and more accurate. With the use of modern design software and effective milling units, digital impressions can be directly processed, and the final restorations produced in one treatment session, saving time and money for patients,” said Dr Kurbad, who has also authored a German textbook on the subject, CAD/CAM und Vollkeramik – Ästhetische Restaurationen in der Praxis (CAD/CAM and All-Ceramics – Aesthetic Restorations in Practice).
He noted that all currently available intraoral 3D cameras are optical-based. “This means that you can only scan what you can see, so if there is blood on the preparation margin, it will not be visible. This is obviously a disadvantage now, but, in the future, the use of ultrasonic scanners should be able to solve this problem,” he said.
He predicted that the dentistry’s digitisation will also take another leap forward when data from various devices are pooled for the patients’ benefit. “Already, in the SICAT Function system, the digital recording of jaw movements can be connected with data from 3D X-rays to find and restore the optimal jaw relationship, and the data can also be used in a digital CAD/CAM system for the production of restorations. This is especially interesting for the creation of a new occlusal vertical dimension,” he explained.
He concluded: “More and more materials will be optimised for in-office, one-session treatments. Many of them are already strong enough and have very short processing times and perfect aesthetics. Modern cementation techniques will complete the digital system. There are so many benefits that no one will want to return to the old methods.”
Dr. Kurbad will be speaking in depth about the developments of digital technology at the IDEM 2018 Conference in Singapore in April.