The Dental Year In Review

The Dental Year in Review...


            I’m kind of a sucker for all of those end-of-the-year-best-of-2012 type television shows and highlight reels.  Title a newspaper article “Best Of...” or “Year In Review” and I’ll probably read it.  I suspect my love for the highlights goes back to childhood memories of Football Follies and Sports Blooper VHS tapes.  Remember when (before ESPN and internet streaming) we had to actually wait for the next day’s newspaper to get sports scores?  And celebrity gossip pictures only came out once a week in the Sunday paper.  How did we ever get by?


            During my extensive research for this weekly newspaper article (rolling over and picking up one of the many dental journals next to my bed), I stumbled across an article of this nature.  I flipped to the article and began to read through a long list of great dental achievements in 2012.  There were advances in tissue engineering and revolutionary new root canal sealers and international meetings about dental caries.  I was so excited that I almost went to bed early.


            Surely, I can do better than that.  So I started thinking, what has happened in 2012 that can improve dentistry for those we serve?  What evolved that really matters to patients?  I came up with a few.


            Digital imaging is improving by leaps and bounds.  We are getting closer and closer to a time where we can check your teeth for cavities and gum disease with a single digital scan.  No more biting on tabs over and over again with sensors or plates jabbing into your palate and tongue.  We currently have the technology to take amazing scans.  Unfortunately, they haven’t quite evolved to see cavities between teeth.  It will hopefully happen soon.


            Within the last couple of months, digital scanners have been introduced that allow for digital impression taking.  A little wand can be moved around your mouth to scan a three dimensional model of teeth and gums and jaw structure.  It will take a few years, but I believe the days of that gooey impression material are numbered.


            This year also saw the introduction of computer designed and fabricated dentures.  The technology is just starting to evolve, but the potential is tremendous.  If a denture or partial is designed by a computer, that design file can be stored for years.  This means replacement sets can be made with the click of a button or an email to a lab.  If you’ve ever lost or broken a dental appliance, you can see the up side in this technology.


            Looking back, it appears that 2012 has been a year of computer aided dentistry.  I suspect that will be said for the next ten years or until we figure out how to re-grow lost teeth.  Whichever comes first. 


            I can’t wait to see.


            Until next week, keep smiling.


-Please send comments to Drs. Parrish at