Emmott On Technology: Fearless High Tech Dental Predictions for 2014

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Emmott On Technology: Fearless High Tech Dental Predictions for 2014

Here, presented in a “News from the Future” style are my 2014 predictions for the future of dentistry.

Milt Desmond, a San Diego dentist, prepped a tooth on a patient in Fargo, North Dakota. By means of tele-dentistry techniques, Dr. Desmond used 3D images of the patient, including bones, teeth and soft tissue integrated into a virtual patient simulation transmitted to his office in California over the Internet. He transmitted his image back to the clinic in Fargo to talk with the patient and inevitably to ask him to open his mouth.

With Google Glass to guide him Dr. Desmond slipped his hands into a pair of cyber gloves in San Diego to guide the handpiece connected to a surgical robot at the other end in Fargo. He used real time 3D images of the tooth prep including patient vitals off to the side and a shadow image of the pulp below the surface to help guide the prep.

The image of the prepped tooth was than transmitted to a master technician in Bern, Switzerland who designed the restoration. The design was whisked back to a 3D printer in Fargo to create the restoration.

Dentists and lab techs in Fargo could not be reached for comment.

3D images, virtual patient integration, telepresence robots, Google Glass, surgical robots, augmented reality, digital impressions and 3D printers all exist right now. It could happen.

On October 22, 2014 the Smithsonian Museum of American History opened a new exhibit; a ¾ scale diorama depicting the office of Dr. James Spackleman, the only dentist in America without a website. “We wanted to capture Dr. Spackleman now before he disappeared altogether into the misty water colored memories of the past,” said Susan Morris, the Smithsonian’s Director of Anachronism. The exhibit was constructed using old photos. The museum team was unable to find the actual office. It seems that if you aren’t online you don’t really exist.

A large percentage of patients look up a dentist before making a first appointment. Not having a web page today is the equivalent of not having a telephone in 1964.

In related news Google bought the entire state of Michigan. Deep discounts on Detroit made the purchase an easy cash deal for Google.

Actually the people at Google are too smart to buy Detroit but they could probably afford it. Google makes so much money because it provides an amazing service. Google is powerful. Do not ignore it, learn to use it.

A small-town Georgia dentist, Dr. Leonard McCoy became the first US dentist to employ the oral Quad-corder. It is like a Tri-corder but one better.

Dr. McCoy placed the smartphone connected sensor in the patients mouth for 23.6 seconds. The phone launched the data into the cloud where it was analyzed and a diagnosis developed, which was downloaded back to McCoy’s smartphone in 5.8 seconds. Slow upload speeds in rural Georgia slowed the process.

The Quad-corder detected chemicals in the patient’s breath that determined his basic biochemistry, the presence of seven types of oral bacteria and early stages of a periodontal infection. A quick scan laser created a 3D virtual study model. Ultrasonic vibrations were used to measure periodontal pockets and create a 3D map of his subgingival anatomy. Chemical sensors determined the pH of his saliva and confirmed the presence of cariogenic bacteria. A flash of blue light highlighted soft tissue lesions which were compared to an online database of 27,463 similar lesions in 0.24 seconds. Measuring reflected heat and light the Quad-corder detected changes in the crystalline structure of the enamel indicating decay.

The Quad-corder app is only available for iPhone. An Android version is in development.

Like the tele-robot surgery described above, all the high tech diagnostic elements in the Quad-corder, breath analysis, laser imaging, ultrasonic perio, enhanced soft tissue analysis and detection of changes in the crystalline structure of enamel already exist. They are just not available in a single instrument. Not yet.

No matter what else happens one prediction is certain. The future is coming and it will be amazing!

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