The dental industry continues to grow and evolve. Over the years, so many new technologies and innovations have been introduced in the dental industry that has completely revolutionized dental healthcare. With an increasing number of dentists graduating each year and entering the dental field, the competition in the dental industry is at an all-time high. Today, dental expertise and skills alone are not enough - dentists need to be seasoned business managers - and remain aware of the current dental industry trends to survive in this competitive market. This article provides an overview of the 5 trends in dentistry that you should be aware of.
Although the term 3D printing is not new to dentists, its adaptation in dental clinics has only gained momentum in the last few years. However, as more affordable, desktop 3D printers become available, more and more dentists are expected to utilize 3D printers for preparing custom dentures, mouthguards, and restorations such as veneers, inlays, and outlays. 3D-printed restorations and prostheses are not only more dimensionally accurate, but they can also be prepared at the dental chairside in a matter of minutes. A technical report by SmarTech Analysis predicts that over 9500 3D printers will be shipped in the US alone in 2021, with desktop 3D printers being available below the $5,000 price tag.
Today, dentists are using a patient-centered treatment philosophy. Today, dentists are contracting various dental service organizations (DSOs) responsible for taking care of the non-clinical tasks and dental management affairs - so that dentists can get more time to provide better services to their patients. Today, an increasing number of dentists are adopting this model. In fact, the American Dental Association estimates that over 10.4 % of the dentists in the US were already associated with DSOs in 2019 - and this trend continues to grow. With DSOs handling the non-clinical affairs, dentists or their teams do not have to spend their time looking for high-quality fiber optic, high-speed dental handpieces, or safe, microbial evacuation systems like Bio-Pure, anymore.
Though the medical industry has benefited from artificial intelligence (AI) for many years, the dental industry has been slow to join the bandwagon. However, this trend will change in the near future, as dentists have already started incorporating AI for patient record management, data analysis, diagnosis, and prediction of dental caries and malignant lesions from radiographs and CT-scan images. Furthermore, these AI systems get seamlessly integrated with CAD-CAM systems, allowing for rapid chairside prosthesis and restoration fabrication.
Even today, you may find dentists in the US who use physical impressions for crowns and veneer fabrication. But the tide is turning; in 2021, we can expect an increased number of dentists to invest in digital impressions for use in oral surgery procedures and cosmetic dentistry. Digital impressions are not only accurate, but also save a lot of time to prepare tooth models and dies, and disinfection. The digital impressions can be used to prepare a digital design, which can be directly used to fabricate prostheses or implant guides using 3D printing.
With improved healthcare facilities and life expectancy, a growing number of older adults are retaining their natural teeth. Hence, the rise in global root caries incidence.
Over the years, dental experts have realized that the current surgical-restorative model for caries management has become unfeasible globally. Today, the dental industry is shifting towards minimal invasive dentistry where only the infected dentine is removed while remineralization of the affected dentine is attempted through remineralization agents like sodium fluoride and amorphous calcium phosphate. Recently, a topical agent based on silver and fluoride ions - silver diamine fluoride (SDF) - has made waves in the dental industry, owing to its excellent antibacterial efficacy and remineralization potential.
It is expected that SDF will become the standard non-invasive, topical caries management for high-risk patients residing in under-developed areas lacking dental facilities. This will not only bring down the cost of treatment but also help in decreasing the global caries incidence rate.
The year 2022 is expected to bring massive changes to the dental healthcare industry; from AI-powered chatbots for patient information and record management to teledentistry and 3D printing. But, this is just the tip of the iceberg. As technological innovations continue, the coming years will completely revolutionize the entire industry. Hence, it is important for dentists to keep themself abreast of the latest trends and advancements in dentistry - and incorporate them in their clinics timely - so that they can continue to run successful, revenue-generating practices.
Dr. Mehmood Asghar is a dentist, an educator, and a researcher in dental biomaterials. He is currently working as an Assistant Professor in Dental Biomaterials at the National University of Medical Sciences, Pakistan, in addition to pursuing a Ph.D. in Dental Biomaterials. Apart from his professional activities, Dr. Asghar loves reading, writing, and working out.