Nanodentistry and cosmetic dentistry: Shaping the future of dentistry
Every specialty in healthcare needs to make progress technologically to improve upon earlier available treatments and provide patients with better options. We discuss a few of such technological advancements that are setting the future trends in dentistry.
Titash Roy Choudhury
Dentistry as a specialty has undergone massive changes and technological advancements in the recent years, which are bringing in newer treatment options and yielding better results. Various technological advancements are seen worldwide and many of these trends are also entering the Indian dental market. Innovative procedures and treatments are being developed as people are getting more conscious about their appearance along with the having the willingness to spend on cosmetic procedures. Hence, we see concepts such as cosmetic dentistry gaining popularity among the urban population, and nanodentistry making progress in developing better techniques for dental care.
Though the concept of cosmetic dentistry is not new – gold filling has been in existence since a long time – it is now that the trend is catching up and newer techniques are being introduced. “Cosmetic dentistry is generally used to refer to any dental work that improves the appearance (though not necessarily the function) of an individuals’ teeth, gums and/or bite,” says Dr Priyanka Kataria, Senior Dental Consultant, Fortis Hospital. Cosmetic dentistry primarily deals with improving the aesthetics of patient’s smile, which may include orthodontic treatment, smile dentistry and even surgical methods, depending upon the severity and oddity in the facial features. Today, we have various kinds of advanced treatments available that has made this concept of cosmetic dentistry more attractive. “We use a single word ‘cosmetic’ to encompass the whole concept of providing a beautiful, dazzling, shining individualised smile, conceptualised, designed and executed to perfection through treatments and techniques including orthodontics, implants, veneers, metal-free ceramics, composites, tooth whitening, etc” avers Dr Lavkesh Bansal, Director and Chief Dental Surgeon, Durga Dental Care & Research Centre.
There are two broad dental specialties that predominantly focus on dental aesthetics/cosmetics, prosthodontics and orthodontics. “Cosmetic dentistry may involve addition of a dental material to teeth or gums; for example, bonding, porcelain veneers (laminates), crowns (caps), gum grafts, straightening of teeth accompanied by improvement in appearance of face orthodontics. Whitening or ‘tooth bleaching‘, is the most common cosmetic dental procedure,” informs Dr Kataria. Gum lift is a cosmetic dental procedure that raises and sculpts the gum line. The procedure involves reshaping the tissue and/or underlying bones to create the appearance of longer or more symmetrical teeth.
While tooth reshaping removes part of the enamel to improve the appearance of the tooth, it may be used to correct a small chip, or to alter the length, shape or position of teeth or to correct crooked or excessively long teeth. This procedure offers fast results and can even be a substitute for braces under certain circumstances. “There are various treatment options such as veneering, orthobraces, surgical corrections like rhinoplasty (nosejob), genioplasty (chin correction), labioplasty (lip correction) and botox application,” Dr Bansal avers.
Nanotechnology: Shaping dentistry
Nanodentistry is a branch of dentistry that employs nanotechnology for precise and better results along with maintenance of oral health by use of nanomaterials, nanorobotics and nanomedicine. “Development of nanodentistry will enable the maintenance of near-perfect oral health through the use of nanomaterials, biotechnology including tissue engineering, and nanorobotics,” believes Dr Kataria. When the first micron-size dental nanorobots will be developed, perhaps 10-20 years from today, how they might be applied to dentistry is a question that everyone is waiting to discover. Some of the areas in dental care where nanotechnology has evolved better techniques are tooth repair, reducing dental hypersentivity, introducing newer materials with better qualities, among others. Nanodental techniques for major tooth repair may evolve through several stages of technological development, first using genetic engineering, tissue engineering and tissue regeneration, and later growing whole new teeth invitro and installing them. “Ultimately, the nanorobotic manufacturing and installation of a biologically autologous whole replacement tooth including both mineral and cellular components, eg, complete dentition replacement therapy, should become feasible to undertake within the time and economic constraints of an ordinary office visit, using an affordable desktop manufacturing facility in the dentist’s office,” informs Dr Kataria. Dentin hypersensitivity is another pathologic phenomenon that may be amenable to a nanodental cure. It may be caused by changes in pressure transmitted hydrodynamically to the pulp. “There are many therapeutic agents for this common painful condition that provide temporary relief, but reconstructive dental nanorobots could selectively and precisely occlude selected tubules in minutes, using native biological materials, offering patients a quick and permanent cure,” says Dr Kataria. Apart from advanced treatments and techniques nanotechnology has also developed advanced materials that have improved dental care, impression materials like nanofillers that give the material better flow and improved hydrophilic properties, hence, fewer voids at margin and better model pouring, thus enhancing precision. Dentition renaturalisation procedures may become a popular addition to the typical dental practice, providing perfect methods for aesthetic dentistry. “This trend may begin with patients who desire to have their old dental amalgams excavated and their teeth remanufactured with native biological materials. But demand will grow for full coronal renaturalisations wherein all fillings, crowns, and other necessary 20th century modifications to the visible dentition are removed, with the affected teeth re-manufactured so as to be indistinguishable from the natural originals,” says Dr Kataria.
Scope and future
“In India, people are becoming more aware of the options available and they start looking for better treatment that goes well with their teeth, face and personality. More than the technology, it is the perception of beauty provided by the dentist, diagnosing of the missing parts in teeth, lips, face and personality of patient, charting a neat step-wise treatment plan, collaborating with the best technicians who can sync with the dentist’s thinking, executing the procedure to maximum efficiency is what matters,” informs
Dr Bansal. Within the scope of cosmetic dentistry in India, the major focus of dentists is on the overall good look of your teeth. In order to attain this objective, they need something specific such as ceramic and composite technology. “There is a strong need of special training for this technology.
In the past few years, cosmetic dentistry has become very popular and considered as the safest way to beautify the look along with good dental health. The best cosmetic dentistry procedure India employs is use of veneers to advance the look of teeth, primarily the front ones. This treatment used in cosmetic dentistry is extremely simple, safe and causes no side effect,” says Dr Kataria. Cosmetic dentistry is extensively practiced in India and nanodentistry is catching up fast with corporate hospitals, though cost is a factor that may pose a barrier for advancement of technologies. But along with advancements in cosmetic dentistry, nanodentistry is the future of dentistry and the next few years will provide a clear picture of how well the technology aids the field of dentistry.