Dentistry has come a long way from the Egyptian practices related to diseases of the teeth and ancient methods of curing them. With the introduction of tooth paste and use of Novocain in early 20th century dentistry has now developed into multi specialty disciplines. Dental and related diseases can be prevented and treated as modern dentistry has a specialty for gum diseases, tooth decay, surgical procedures, implants for a variety of applications, pain in jaws while chewing etc. the last symptom may be related to ‘temporo mandibular joint’ (TMJ) problems, which may need orthopedic surgeon’s assistance.
Dental caries or decay in teeth has treatments such as fillings, use of crowns, bridges, and prosthetic dentures where necessary. Periodontal dentistry concerns itself with treatment of gum diseases such as pyorrhea or gingivitis at times requires special training in sedation, oral surgery, oral radiography etc. Exodontias on the other hand is surgical removal of teeth beyond restoration by sue of techniques such as teeth fillings, used in endodontic methods. This often may require oral or maxillofacial surgery, supported by pathology and radiology. Many times restoration is done by using root canal treatments, before exodontic extraction is done, which is irreversible. Other routine dental treatments include procedures such as scaling, plaque removal, stabilizing teeth that are loose or repairing decayed tooth, etc.
Some of the modern technologies available to dentists today include use of air abrasion, bone replacements, digital x-rays, use of composite materials and dental lasers. Air abrasion replaces the dreaded shrill and painful dental drill and is used in treating small cavities, removing hard cement-like plaque and cleaning of hard-to-reach locations in the mouth. This uses a stream of highly compressed air directed through a fine jet, instead of the noisy drill. Bone replacement is a recent dental technology which is used to help people suffering from bone loss or those requiring tooth extractions. Often, bone is taken from another part of the body and is used for its platelet-rich growth factors that induce bone tissue to grow and help heal teeth with low bone density. This finds use especially in oral cancer patients. Advances in material technology and engineering also have found applications in dental medicine. Use of advanced composites for filling tooth cavities and the ability to imitate closely the natural color of the adjacent teeth are useful features. These materials are cheaper and fast curing, compared those used about two decades ago. Some of the materials need only ultraviolet light exposure for curing and the filling has strength better than natural teeth.
Hybrid product of advancements in computer technology and radiography has given birth to digital x-ray dentistry, where the x-ray images can be captured in real time and transmitted to a computer screen for analysis during the surgical procedures. This method is time saving, economical to the patient and offers no chance of developed x-ray photos getting mixed up. In complex oral or maxillofacial surgeries, continuous x-rays can be obtained by this technique. Dental lasers offer unmatched precision in dental surgery especially in oral tumors, cold sores or decay removal procedures. Modern advancements in other branches of medicine as well as in engineering keep the art and science of dentistry ever evolving to reach new heights.