Can technology help us improve our dental hygiene?


A whopping 2.4 billion people have untreated tooth decay, and that’s just the beginning of dental problems around the world. Maintaining healthy teeth and gums goes beyond a pearly white smile. Your mouth is the entry point for germs and bacteria that can quickly spread from your teeth and gums to other organs and internal body systems. Studies are increasingly showing that there is a link between dental hygiene and diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and that failure to prevent these contaminants from building up causes problems ranging from tooth decay and from gum disease to heart complications and cancer.

But despite its importance to a person’s overall well-being, oral health is often overlooked. Believe it or not, about a third of the American population has not used dental care once in their life. Accessibility, affordability, anxiety, busy schedules, poor education, and poor patient experiences are the most common reasons for these alarming statistics. But could technology help us compensate for this shortcoming?

Let’s be clear: there is no substitute for brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist. But that being said, modern advancements have helped transform dentistry to improve the patient experience.

Digital platforms provide better education

The first innovation isn’t the most glamorous, that’s for sure, but it’s often the unexpected things that make the biggest difference.

Poor education about oral health and dentistry prevents many patients from visiting the dentist regularly. Many adults never learn anything more than to brush their teeth twice a day, while others believe that you should only go to the dentist when something is wrong. These partial truths and misunderstandings lead to an increasing number of adults suffering from significant dental issues which ultimately lead to greater health issues. Dental experts have been able to educate the masses using digital channels like websites, blogs, and social media. These platforms allow dentists to provide their subscribers with up-to-date information on oral health, the dental industry and the latest technological advancements. Whether it’s an article, polls, surveys, infographics, images or videos, content helps improve patient understanding, reduce fears, allay suspicion and increase dental visits.

Digital platforms can also help dental students learn more about their profession. A recent study analyzed the impact of digital platforms on education, concluding:

“Dental eLearning has the potential to become a cutting-edge tool for building the clinical education skills of dental students by conducting continuing dental education, assignments, formative assessments, case descriptions, and how to treatment through online learning are the best ways to improve the quantity and quality of dental education.

Shorter dental procedures save time

In previous years, when a dental patient had significant issues, multiple visits were required to treat them. Even something as routine as getting a crown would require two appointments. For patients with busy schedules, dental fears, or limited budgets, making the trip twice presents challenges they’d rather not encounter. Time, as they say, is money – and when you go to the dentist, that can be a lot of money. Therefore, many would avoid going to the dentist to get the treatment they need.

Technological advancements in dentistry have paved the way for shorter dental procedures. 3D dentistry allows dental professionals to print crowns, implants and dentures in-house for faster service. Procedures that previously required several appointments over several months can now be performed in just a few hours. Patients save money on co-payments and avoid time off from work or other obligations. It also helps relieve the anxiety of patients who fear returning to the dentist multiple times for invasive treatment.

Better materials

It’s not just about better procedures – the materials themselves have improved over the past few years. Science has not stood still and materials science is one of the fastest growing areas of research; dental materials could not have been left behind. Just recently, an exciting study announced a filling twice as strong and durable as those currently used in dental clinics. Although the material is not yet available in clinics, it should arrive soon and it is far from the only exciting research in the field.

Dental materials are becoming more and more resistant and aesthetically pleasing. To make things even better, self-healing dental materials may be at hand. Not just here, but they should be arriving soon – all the more reason to keep your teeth healthy in the meantime.

Less painful and invasive processes

No matter your pain threshold, no one likes painful and invasive dental procedures. Many processes require drilling into bones and cutting gums, which can take weeks or even months to heal. This is why many people avoid going to the dentist for treatment.

Fortunately, modern advancements have made dental procedures less painful and less invasive. For example, laser technology makes it easier to get dental implants. Dentists can quickly discover the best location for implants, and lasers help them make small, precise incisions along the gum line. Patients have less blood, less pain and less risk of infection. Laser-assisted dental implants also do not require sutures, which are itchy and inconvenient.

Patient portals are convenient

From long waits at the dentist and paperwork to managing appointments and filling prescriptions, the patient experience is riddled with complications. Patients already have a lot on their plate and therefore demand or prefer manageable processes. If visiting the dentist means waiting for hours, filling out the same paperwork, remembering an appointment from six months ago and going back and forth to the pharmacy, some patients prefer to avoid the madness altogether.

Patient portals help ease their frustrations. Having an account on a dental website or mobile app allows patients to fill out forms, review their medical records, schedule appointments, view educational materials, request and download referrals, complete prescriptions, receive bills, make payments and get real-time notifications. These platforms are convenient, save time and help foster stronger dentist-patient relationships.

The bottom line

There’s no denying the importance of oral health to overall well-being. If you think you need to see a dentist, do it. and don’t forget to brush and floss your teeth. Technology can help us, but it can’t do everything for us.

The above innovations have changed the game from using digital platforms to provide better education to advanced technologies for less painful and invasive procedures. Patients can now save time and money while allaying their fears and suspicions, encouraging them to put their oral health first.


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