When a new form of technology becomes common in society many different people find many different ways to apply it. Some recent examples that apply to dentistry include;
There have been more than a few medical applications for 3-D printing; it has been used to print body organs. Dental researchers have used 3-D printing to create replacement teeth, which is no longer recent news. But this have taken this further so that 3-D printing has been used to recreate the patients mouth, allowing better replacement teeth to be produced. In some extreme cases a patient cannot open their mouth sufficiently for a mould to be made. But 3-D scanning can produce a very accurate model of the patient’s mouth, and this is used to make the prosthetic or replacement teeth. In at least one case an entire upper jaw has been made by this method. If nothing else patients will have to spend less time having moulds made of their mouth.
Laser Cavity Repair.
Lasers ceased to be science fiction more than two generations ago. We are used to them in CD players and as novelty pointers for lecturers. Attempts to use them to regrow hair have only anecdotal evidence, but Harvard research has used them to regrow dentin and reverse tooth decay. So far the method has only been used on animals, but the technique looks very promising.
The laser used is extremely bright but fairly low powered. It encourages stem cells in the mouth to reform dentine, the substance inside the tooth. Teeth can normally only form new dentine at their centre where the stem cells are, and not near the surface of the tooth. The laser treatment allows dentine to be reformed right up to the surface of the tooth, though the surrounding surface enamel presently cannot be regenerated.
As lasers are already used for many medical procedures there does not appear to be too many obstacles to prevent the introduction of this new laser treatment.
Stem cells have also been used to regrow significant parts of a patient’s jawline. We expect there will be a great deal of many other applications for stem cells in dental work.