I was hugely interested in this joint talk given in September 2017 by a dentist and a dental prosthetist on new CAD-CAM technologies for planning our treatments in 3D. At our surgery we use a maxillary scanner to study and plan all of our implant surgery cases. We also use it in some cases of wisdom tooth extraction requiring us to establish the relationship between the molar and the lower dental nerve.
Instead of a scanner or CAT (Computerised Axial Tomography) scan, today Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) is increasingly used. While it is less accurate in some cases than the scanner, it does render excellent 3D images of the head, including the jawbones and their teeth. A digital photograph of the patient can be placed in front of this osseous image, and we can also add the implants and the new teeth we plan to create.
This enables us to study the different implant possibilities, thereby improving communication with the patient thanks to being able to explain the treatment alternatives and the effects they will have on their image. It also helps the prosthetist working in the laboratory to see what we want to achieve and allows an exchange of ideas with a view to obtaining the most adequate dental prosthesis at both functional and aesthetic levels.
“Tooth libraries” are also being created. This means that certain authors are publishing the natural teeth of real people when they are particularly aesthetic. The dentist can then choose the denture he likes the most for a certain patient and send it to the prosthetist, who will use a 3D printer to make it. In fact, with a good photograph of a patient when they were young, we could now make an identical set of replacement teeth for the same patient, particularly in the case of a complete denture made in resin or porcelain of both the teeth and the gums.
The tooth and gum impressions we take today in the surgery using silicone or alginate are now being made with an intraoral 3D scanner.
Today we are experiencing a digital revolution in odontology too, so that in only a very few years our everyday professional work will change enormously.