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Dentistry Tools for the 21st Century

Archeological digs have unearthed proof surrounding a long history of dental treatments throughout evolution. Back in 7000 BC the Indus Valley Civilization used bow drills to remove tooth decay and excavated Mayan civilization sites have featured skulls with dental implants from 600 AD. When that dental care was first implemented individuals marveled at the art. Now, the most recent advancements are simply mind boggling.

Discoveries such as the dental health benefits of fluoride, the perks of brushing and flossing daily and proof that dental cavities are caused by dental plaque and tooth decay (not tooth worms) are just some of the huge improvements that have benefited the dental industry over the past years. Now robots, portable dental cameras and tooth regeneration are poised to become the next tools for elevating dentistry to the next level.

Dental Training Robot

Ever since humans have gained the intelligence to theorize and design, people have been committed to the idea of producing mechanical intelligent agents. Some of the most primitive robots were designed to mimic birds (Archytas created “the Dove” during his life 428-347 BC), percussion bands in the medieval Islamic world (created by Al-Jazari during his lifetime 1136-1206) and to serve tea (Hisashige Tanaka 1799-1881). Those early experiments have allowed Japanese robotic experts to construct the perfect dental patients for dentists in training.

Her name is Showa Hanako 2 and Japanese scientists unveiled her in 2011. The doll has been constructed to resemble a real gal and dental students can poke and prod her has much as they need to pick up the skills required of their chosen profession. Just like a real live patient, during dental treatments Showa has the ability to gag, recoil and writhe in reaction to the dental services received. Plus, the robot is even programmed to respond to the obligatory dental chair chitchat (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/01/robotic-sex-doll-will-teach-dentists-in-training_n_888851.html).

Self Dental Exam Camera

Preventative dentistry is a maneuver that can save teeth and money and typically patients need to get regular dental exams from a professional dentist to determine the preemptive dental care they need. A portable dental camera created by Japanese company Miharu can allow patients to find the root of the issue on their own.

The camera plugs into any TV and features a video endoscope tip to shine light on the area. Patients can then get a great, magnified view of their teeth allowing them to spot signs of dental decay without having to travel to the dentist to get the task done.

Tooth Regeneration

Regeneration is a mind boggling process that until recently has solely been left to the animal and plant kingdoms. Starfish, geckos, crayfish and salamanders have all been blessed with the ability to grow back and replace certain missing appendages. Technological advancements in dentistry may soon allow humans are to benefit from the renewal process.

In humans, the liver has been cited as one major organ that has the ability to biologically grow and repair itself and various reports of finger regeneration fill the web-o-sphere. Tooth regeneration is the latest spin on the science and advancements in this specific field may alter how dentistry professionals handle the task of treating dental cavities in the future.

Cavities (AKA tooth decay) are caused when oral bacterial convert trace residues of food sugars into acids via metabolic activity. That acid will erode through tooth enamel and leave holes and pits behind. When left unchecked a myriad of dental problems including abscesses, gum disease and tooth loss are possible. Currently, after proper diagnosis dentists treat the affliction with a drill and fill approach that first removes the corroded area and then fills the void with options including amalgam, gold or porcelain. Tooth regeneration is poised to change that process.

When it comes to teeth, scientists around the world have been working diligently working on ways to encourage a human to grow their own enamel and dentin to fill the holes left behind by tooth decay. The process is being stimulated by a solution of calcium-containing solution of electrically charged particles (called ions) and so far, there has been some success in the process thanks to the efforts conducted by Sally Marshall, a professor at the University of California at San Francisco.

Presently, Marshall has been able to coax the remineralization of some tooth material with the process, but still must fine tune the process to stabilize dentin. Further advancement is expected to take several more years (http://www.wired.com/medtech/health/news/2008/04/tooth_regeneration).

Although all the space-aged technology may cause the dental industry to advance in leaps and bounds, right now individuals still need to practice daily oral hygiene as well as seek professional dental exams and cleanings in order to ensure that mouths and teeth stay in tip-top condition.

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