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Technology: Improving Smiles, Touching Lives

3 weeks ago

Healthy Smiles By Rita Tempel, DDSThis column was published in the Gettysburg Times on March 19, 2020

Did you know that the word “technology” refers to knowledge being applied in a new way? The evolution of the word is fascinating because if you go back to the Greek and Latin roots, the meaning encompasses both science and art being combined and applied together in new ways.

Technology, this blending of science and art, is revolutionizing all areas of health care that translates into better patient care and breakthroughs in treatment. This includes dentistry! And, what better way to touch human lives and encourage human connections, than to improve patients’ smiles?

Yes, that’s right—smiles are going high tech! A new technology being incorporated into my cosmetic dental practice is called Digital Smile Design. Basically, through digital design, patients can see how dentistry can transform their smiles utilizing their natural teeth, bonding, porcelain veneers, crowns, bridges, dentures or implant dentistry. That means, in real time, live on the computer screen, we can work together to discover the “possibilities” before embarking on actual customized dental work.

The story behind Digital Smile Design is just as fascinating. It was developed by a sixth-generation dentist named Dr. Christian Coachman. In fact, his family has practiced dentistry in Brazil for 170 years, as verified by Guinness World Records!

I see this program as an invaluable link of communication between dentist and patient. Digital Smile Design includes a 2-D digital process that allows patients to visualize how their final smile could look following treatment. The program utilizes facial aesthetics as a starting point.

Using natural algorithms, Digital Smile Design helps dentists create a patient’s 3-D smile, for patients to view right on the computer screen. This is a fantastic communications and educational tool, because it allows me as a dentist, to demonstrate and explain how specific treatments plans could be implemented. This helps patients better understand treatment options—by “seeing” their own mouth and teeth in a revolutionary new way.

This technology also increases communication between the dentistry team—including the dental laboratory, master ceramist and myself—to ensure we are all working together for each patient’s customized results.

Patients are already benefiting from these new technology tools! I’d like to introduce you to a recent patient, who I’ll call Charlie, and the life-changing way this program updated his smile. I worked with Charlie and his wife to create a new smile designed for his face and personality. Once Charlie and his wife saw, with their own eyes, the projected results on the Digital Smile Design program, it confirmed that they were on the right treatment path and they wanted to begin. It gave them hope and peace of mind.

As a dentist, this is an incredible gift to be able to give to a patient. And we are just beginning to see how technology can impact dentistry! And by impacting dentistry, technology is supporting and enhancing some of the most basic human connections—communication and smiles—for the better.

Dr. Rita Tempel is an Accredited Member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry at Gettysburg Smiles, 2018 York Road, Gettysburg. For more information, see GettysburgSmiles.com, follow Dr. Tempel Gettysburg Smiles on Instagram (@ritatempeldds), Facebook, or call 717-339-0033.

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