As we begin a new year, one cannot help but think about the future. What lies ahead? How will things change? How will our lives improve? When it comes to oral health care, there are a lot of interesting developments in the works and on the horizon. To gain a better understanding of what the future may hold for dentistry, we spoke with Dr. Brunacini.
1.When you think of the future of dentistry, what is most inspiring to you?
Itero Element 2 Digital Scanner
Dr. Brunacin: The digital workflow in dentistry will be a significant gamechanger. By using a digital scanner (pictured, right) instead of traditional impressions, we can achieve better fitting crowns and dentures in a much more efficient and comfortable manner. Digital scanners are a wand-like device that allow us to capture a 3D image of a patient’s mouth.
We can now begin planning oral rehabilitations digitally before performing any surgeries as well. This helps us better anticipate any challenges that may arise and creates improved predictability, which also helps us achieve one of our top priorities: a much better patient experience!
Also, replacing teeth with dental implants will continue to increase in prevalence because they combine both great esthetics and function for the patient. There are so many advances to look forward to in dentistry!
2. Have there been any takeaways from the COVID-19 pandemic that you think will impact the future of oral health care?
Dr. Brunacini: During the pandemic, I’ve been struck by the power that stress has on our bodies. The increase in stress and anxiety that we all feel has correlated to a significant increase in TMJ symptoms and broken teeth. Of course, we need to treat teeth with cavities due to decay, but broken teeth due to bruxism (grinding/clenching) is new to a lot of people and really can do significant damage to the teeth and gums over time. As we’ve discussed before, it will continue to be important for patients to consider their whole body health as part of their oral health. It’s all connected…when you’re stressed, it shows in your mouth.
3. Integrative Dentistry is an important part of the oral health care philosophy at FDA. How do you see that evolving in the years to come?
Dr. Brunacini: Integrative Dentistry is a care philosophy that views the oral cavity – mouth, teeth, and gums – as another system in the human body that requires a whole body approach when thinking about care. I’m looking forward to the continued increase in collaboration between medicine and dental care. For so many years, dental care has always been separate from the medical model. Over time, I expect more connections between oral health and overall health to increase, which will create more motivation for both the patient and provider to improve oral health.
4. Technology is advancing all the time. What are some of the exciting technological advances taking place in oral health care?
Dr. Brunacini: As I’ve mentioned before, the digital workflow using digital scanners and 3-D printers will continue to improve in quality; therefore, it will soon become the preferred way to fabricate crowns and dentures. This will create a more efficient and more effective treatment for the patient, which is really sensational!
5. What’s one thing patients can do to improve the future of their oral health?
Dr. Brunacini: Proper homecare and diet continue to be the best way to improve oral health. I tell patients repeatedly that the best dentistry is no dentistry. If a patient can maintain proper oral hygiene plus a healthy diet to minimize decay risk, then a majority of dental problems can be prevented. So keep brushing, flossing, and eating healthy!
Thank you, Dr. Brunacini!
Your teeth have a lot to look forward to in the future! As Dr. Brunacini recommends, keep those teeth healthy and happy by following a proper home care regimen: brush twice-a-day, floss daily, and come in for your regular check ups! And don’t forget to eat well and find ways to reduce stress in your life, too. If you have any questions about your oral health care, or need to schedule an appointment, call us today at 207.781.5900.
*Scanner image courtesy of www.itero.com
Dr. Brunacini on Digital Dentistry
One of the most exciting and useful advancements in dentistry in recent years has been the incorporation of digital tools. Digital Dentistry is an integral part of our practice at Falmouth Dental Arts. Perhaps you read about Dr. Brunacini’s commitment to Digital Dentistry in his bio and have been curious to learn more. We decided to ask Dr. Brunacini about this innovative component of our care. Here’s what he had to say:
1. What is Digital Dentistry?
Dr. Brunacini: Digital dentistry has permeated many aspects of dentistry. For example, our patient’s dental and health information is all done digitally through our dental software. No need for paper charts! X-rays are another way that digital dentistry has changed how we do things. Digital x-rays have many advantages: convenience, drastically reduced radiation exposure, and increased diagnostic capabilities. We even have x-rays that can be seen in 3 dimensions, which provides so much more information for the team and patient. It’s also really cool! Lastly, digital impressions can now be used to fabricate crowns and other lab-processed dental prostheses. It’s all very fascinating!
2. How does FDA incorporate Digital Dentistry into its practice?
Dr. Brunacini: We have been using computer-based patient record management software for years. It allows us to better communicate with the patients directly as well as with their dental insurance companies to provide a better overall experience. We also utilize intraoral cameras (camera this fit inside the mouth) to be able to show patients exactly what we see in their mouths. We can use these digital images to help us make a treatment plan and communicate that plan easily to the patient. Being able to plan the end result for a patient prior to making irreversible changes to a their mouth helps us assure long term success. It becomes a very powerful motivator and education tool.
We are working towards implementing digital impressions for crown fabrication, but are still in the learning phase of it. We are continually developing new skills and working to implement new technologies in our practice to give our patients the best care possible.
3. What’s in store for the future of Digital Dentistry?
Dr. Brunacini: Digital Dentistry will continue to simplify and streamline the workflow. We are already seeing how the intraoral digital scanners (which create 3-D images of teeth) are getting faster and smaller so we can use them more universally. I also see potential in 3-D printing of dental prostheses for patients, which will assure a more precise fit and quicker turnaround times. It’s an exciting time and there are sure to be even more advancements in the future!
Thank you, Dr. Brunacini! Come in and experience all of our digital equipment at your next appointment! Schedule one today by calling us at 207.781.5900.
*Image courtesy of www.dentalassets.com
You’ve probably heard about 3D printing, but did you know that this technology is applicable to dentistry? Though it seems to have emerged straight from the pages of your favorite cyberpunk novel, it seems that digitally created implants may be in the cards for future dentists and healthcare professionals.
3D printing has also come to be known as additive manufacturing, which means that digital 3D models are turned into solid objects by building up layers of a certain material (matching the parameters of the digital model) to create a real life object!
Though the technology was first introduced as the natural next step after 2D printing on paper, it has quickly evolved into a game-changing manufacturing technology. So far industries including but not limited to aerospace, defense, and art and design have adopted the technology for a variety of uses. Though it’s not definite when or to what degree 3D printing might be adopted by the dental industry, there is great potential for patients’ dental needs to be fulfilled quickly and locally using this technology.
Most dentists would agree: every person’s mouth is unique. This is the main reason why 3D printing could be massively successful in dentistry. Crowns, bridges, retainers, splints, dentures, and surgical guides and instruments, all require some level of custom work to match each patient’s mouth.
“I love the idea of 3D printing as there are many ways for it to be used in dentistry,” Dr. Brian Brunacini commented. “Whether it involves a metal framework for a partial denture or making a crown, the technology can only help. As dentistry goes digital, the impressions we take are so accurate that having a perfect fit is easily accomplished, which reduces costs and the amount of time required for each fitting.”
Digital x-rays as well as scans and models have already begun to “digitalize” dentistry work systems. These systems are becoming increasingly commonplace. In fact, you may have already encountered 3D printing in dentistry, though you might not realize it: Invisalign utilizes 3D modeling and printing technology in the creation of their products.
Despite initial barriers as 3D printing tried to gain a foothold in the industry, it seems that further technological advances are removing issues like high cost, software unreliability, and material limitations. With the introduction of desktop 3D printers, the cost of professional 3D printers has dropped substantially. Desktop and large-scale printers alike have been able to perform accurately in a clinical setting. In particular, the usability and relative low cost of desktop models have made the technology accessible for dental firms of every size.
As more 3D printers, software, and materials continue to be released, the industry continues to change. 3D printing is already possible with pure metals, metal alloys, thermoplastics and thermoplastic composites, ceramics, and edible food materials. Materials can also be formulated to take on different textures. As one example, gum tissue can be replicated with materials that have a rubbery texture. The most important factor in assessing materials is the quality of the final printed product.
Each year, more and more materials are released in accordance with FDA regulation. Soon, companies will release biocompatible materials that will be compatible with certain printers models. This development will further expand the potential of the technology, and would result in printers being able to create custom dental implants, like crowns or bridges, right there in the office.
Dr. Brunacini offered his perspective on the future of this technology. “There are still a lot of hurdles ahead for 3D printing in dentistry,” he stated. “Something to keep in mind along the way is that the art of dentistry is very important to as well, and that art could be lost with machines fabricating a crown.”
Whatever is in store for 3D printing and dentistry, you can rest assured that you’re able to rely on the care and craftsmanship of your trusted team at Falmouth Dental Arts. Interested in dental technology and how it has evolved over the years? Let’s talk more at your next appointment!