Tuesday, October 9, 2018

How New Technology will impact Treatment Planning

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As a writer, every once in a while you get lucky.  You happen to find a subject that strikes home with your audience and it takes off better than you might have initially expected.  That has happened to me recently with an article I wrote on high tech treatment planning.  I’ve received some nice public and private comments on the article.  For me its a tremendous honor.  As the Technology Evangelist, I look upon my job as being the person who points out the great advantages new products and ideas bring to us.  That’s it in a fairly complete description.  So, of course, whenever I get feedback I’m incredibly honored by that.
 
Here’s the article…
 

One of the true game changers in our profession as of late has been the development of cone beam computed tomography (CBCT). That combined with the market penetration of digital radiography, which is now well over 50 percent, has created an environment of visual co-diagnosis that has dramatically changed the way we communicate with patients and the way we diagnose.

I’m a huge supporter of visually-based technologies for the simple reason that human beings rely heavily on their sense of sight. Whether it’s computer images, photos or working under high magnification, the ability to see well gives you the ability to “do” well.

Combining multiple factors of visually-based practice systems allows for greater efficiency of treatment and greater predictability of outcomes.

For the past two or three years, I’ve been encouraging development of integration between cone beam scans and the file sets created by chairside digital impression systems. I’d be thrilled to see a continually updated patient where an initial 3D scan is taken and then updated with data from the digital impression system whenever a new chairside scan is done. Imagine keeping a 3D digital record of your patients that’s constantly updated to reflect their current situation. That would be incredible!

However, another new process has caught my eye as of late. Many of you have probably heard of VR, or virtual reality. The idea is to wear goggles that create a “virtual world” where it feels like you’re actually inside a video game. VR looks to be one of the next big things in the gaming world, for real estate tours, and potentially for education and tourism. However, short of perhaps patient education, VR doesn’t have much of a potential in the dental industry for the foreseeable future.

While VR my not have dental applications on the immediate horizon, a technology referred to as AR just may hold promise. AR stands for “augmented reality” and is defined by whatis.com as “The integration of digital information with the user's environment in real time. Unlike virtual reality, which creates a totally artificial environment, augmented reality uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it.”

Let’s stop and consider that for a moment. Imagine the possibility (as I mentioned above) of the merged cone beam and digital impression files. Now, let’s imagine that you’re prepping for a bridge on teeth #4-6. You prep the teeth, scan the case with the acquisition unit and then merge the clinical scan with the cone beam data. At this point the doctor can don the AR goggles that are loaded with your patient’s digital 3D data, and when you look at the patient, you’ll actually see the 3D rendering “on the patient.” This allows you to check for proper clearance and proper draw.

 

For the full article, you can finish reading at Dental Products Report.  

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