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THE RISE OF DIGITAL DENTISTRY

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Digital dental technology is revolutionizing dental care. From cosmetic dentistry to annual check-ups, the use of digital advancements is helping dental professionals provide an overall better experience for their patients and better quality treatments. We went straight to Dr. Mefford for a more indepth look into digital dentistry and the technology Bellano Dental Health has incorporated into their practices.

How is digital dentistry changing the patient experience?

With digital dentistry, we are able to provide a better patient experience from all aspects. The technology makes procedures more convenient and comfortable for the patient, provides better quality results and better treatments.

For example, in school I learned to use film based radiography to take x-rays of a person's mouth, like most other dentists. It was really a shot in the dark because you have to wait for the film to process to see what the image captured. Now with digital radiography, we can see results much faster so the patient spends less time waiting.

This type of dental technology has really helped us detect and diagnose issues earlier because we are able to capture more details than traditional x-rays. At Bellano, we have taken it a step further with 3D x-rays. You can't diagnose what you don’t see and with 3D x-rays we can see just about everything. Hidden issues are now visible for better treatment plans.

Can you give us some examples of the dental technology that the dentists at Bellano are using? How does it compare to the traditional method?

The most revolutionary piece of equipment we have integrated into our offices is our digital scanner, which can be used for a number of different dental procedures.

Invisalign

When it comes to teeth straightening and Invisalign, we use a digital scanner to capture teeth impressions when we can instead of using a goop filled tray which is the traditional method. The scanner makes this process a lot more comfortable for our patients and it is extremely accurate. The machine can then send highly detailed impressions straight to Invisalign to create custom trays which saves time and provides better results. We can also simulate what the results will look like and show it to our patients on a large screen so they can be more involved and in control of their own treatments.

Crowns and Bridges

We use our digital scanner to deliver restorative dental treatments like crowns and bridges. With the digital scanner, we are able to take a digital impression, then electronically send it to our lab so they can complete the restoration. At our Appling North location, we actually have our own mill, which allows us to then design and mill a crown in the office in about 2 hours. The traditional method of using impression material, which we still recommend for a small number of our patients, can be a more tedious process because we have to send the actual impression to the lab to create the restoration. Our digital scanner really makes the whole process more convenient for the patient because they avoid having to have the messy impression material in their mouth for several minutes, and our restorations are more accurate because the digital scanner is so precise. Additionally, for our patients at Appling North, it minimizes the number of trips to our office when we can do a same day crown.

Veneers

For veneers, accuracy is key. We have to send very detailed impressions to a lab to make veneers so the accuracy of digital impressions allows us to have more control. We are able to better communicate exactly what we want with detailed impressions so our patients receive better quality results.

Dental Implants

With dental implants, we are able to incorporate not only our digital scanner, but also our CBCT 3D imaging. A CBCT machine allows us to take full 3D x-rays of our patient’s oral cavity, which along with the images from our digital scanner, allows us to have an extremely detailed treatment plan for the placement of the dental implant. We can integrate a digital model of the patient’s teeth with a 3D scan of the patient’s jaw then plan everything exactly so the crown will be in a perfect position. A digital impression, 3D scan and implant are all combined to deliver a really good outcome for the patient because the technology is so precise.

How do patients benefit from the use of dental technology?

There are so many benefits for patients which is why we have adopted these technologies into our practices. Procedures are now more convenient for patients and require less waiting and fewer return trips. Digital dentistry is also more comfortable for patients which is a top priority at Bellano.

The dental technology provides clearer, more detailed visuals which allows our patients to understand what their issues are and be more in control of their treatment plan. It is important to us that patients understand and are involved in their treatment plans, every step of the way. Lastly, the technology is so accurate that we are able to provide our patients with better quality results.

In your opinion, do you think traditional methods for dental procedures will eventually become a thing of the past?

I do. Dental Schools are already educating rising dentists on these new technologies. They will be well equipped to use these technologies when they graduate and incorporate them into their practices. The dental industry is still in a transition period, and while getting everyone changed over to new systems and ways of working takes time, we are committed to making digital dentistry a part of our patient care.

How do the dentists at Bellano stay educated on new dental technologies and methods?

We are committed to continuing our education and being open to all different kinds of learning experiences so we can provide our patients with the best treatments. We are always researching new trends and studying them to see if they benefit our patients. A big advantage of being part of a group like Bellano, is that our dentists enjoy working together. We take time to all meet every quarter. During our meetings, we will bring in other dental professionals to teach us the latest and greatest advancements in patient care. We also make time to always try to learn something from each other in our meetings. Education and technology is a big investment but it is worth it because we are invested in our patients’ dental health.


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