In recent times, one of the most important pieces of technological advancement known to man is Augmented Reality.
As its application cuts across a vast majority of terrain such as the Business and Marketing world, Education and Learning sector, Archeological and Anthropology field, Health and Medical science, etc. But our focus for today is on Dentistry.
As you may know, clinical dentistry is a very complicated area of medical practice. Dentists and other dental experts need to possess impeccable problem-solving abilities to make use of the information and data collected from patients to come up with a correct diagnosis and offer the right dental treatment.
However, irrespective of the year’s worth of experience a dental professional might have garnered, identifying certain dental ailments and conducting surgeries may appear to be a very difficult task. And this creates an opportunity for a technological tool like Augmented Reality to present itself as a vital instrument in dental practice.
What Is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality is simply defined as the merging of a view of the real-world environment with a digital image in real time. It can further be explained as the enhancement of an individual’s visual experience with the real world through the integration of digital visual elements. This imagery is created with a combination of real and virtual scenes registered in three dimensions.
An Augmented Reality environment allows you to see the real world with virtual computer-generated objects superimposed or merged with real surroundings. The idea is to help you have a better understanding and new perspective of the world around you.
How Augmented Reality (AR) Works In Dentistry?
AR is an interactive technology that aims at improving clinical practice in the field of dentistry. It allows dentists to interact with an integral image of the patient’s anatomical structures and work on them in a 3D environment registered using fundamental imaging techniques.
Augmented Reality’s functioning principle is to blend images of the real world with the digital world by generating clinical information that can be directly visualized by the patient. AR enables patients to get a glimpse of what they will look like once the treatment is undertaken by the dentist/dental surgeon.
Dentists use AR for the sole purpose of effective communication between patients and themselves.
Applications Of AR In Dentistry
The applications of Augmented Reality in dental practice, and the dental field at large are almost limitless. As the new technological advancement plays a major role in recent dental operations.
#1. AR in Education And Training
Training and educating students in the best dental practices require a very practical approach. It is in no way an easy task to handle. But now, the introduction of Augmented Reality has made the whole learning and teaching process seamless. As 3D oral cavity models can be overlayed on markers or within textbook chapters to have a better understanding.
The treatment techniques are demonstrated with the use of a 3D model. The use of this stimulator allows instructors to give students a step-by-step guide on the procedure. As well as monitor their learning curve to know if they are making significant progress. This gives room for students to give feedback about their progress before moving to different treatment techniques.
Dental students are trained to conduct practical experiments on phantom heads and teeth, as a way to improve their clinical dexterity and skills before they are later permitted to perform treatments on real live patients. AR helps students gain mastery of dental anatomy within a short time. Because students can easily learn and retain vital information about dental anatomy.
#2. AR in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Oral and Maxillofacial surgery treat delicate oral pathologies like congenital abnormalities, cleft lip and palate, and oral squamous cell carcinoma. In the majority of cases such procedures require the reconstruction of sensitive body areas like the head and neck. This means that the surgical procedure is handled with utmost attention and precision because the slightest mistake can be fatal.
It is quite a demanding task for Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons to treat pathologies present in such high-risk areas. As the weight of the success of such operations leans directly on the surgeons’ manual dexterity and years of experience. Situations like this often make surgeons anxious and put them in a rather uncomfortable mental state.
The introduction of Augmented Reality as a new technological advancement in the surgical field has helped lessen the weight on the back of Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons. And also eliminate every room for possible errors. The use of AR technology allows users to combine information and images to bring them to reality.
Augmented Reality can help surgeons perform virtual surgery wherein they can know exactly where cuts are to be made. This can then be replicated in the operating room for greater precision and accuracy. Dentists can now learn and practice their surgical skills on different simulators before actually performing on patients.
#3. AR in Dental Implantology
Dentists use Augmented Reality as a navigation system during dental implants. It helps narrow the surgeon’s attention to only the portion of the implant placement, thereby increasing the accuracy, precision and efficiency of the surgeon. In dental implant placement, knowing the exact location of the implants should be as accurate as possible because negligence in this step of implant placement could result in complications.
The AR technology provides only useful information about the procedure to the surgeon. And this saves a vast amount of time and cost.
Since the introduction of Augmented Reality, dental implants have become one of the most preferred choices for many dental patients. As the operation is done with a significant amount of ease, has a high success rate, and best of all has a long-term advantage.
#4. AR in Pediatric Dentistry
Pediatric dentistry is undoubtedly one of the most challenging disciplines in the dental field. Dentists in this particular dental practice need to possess not only excellent dentistry skills but also a good dose of tact and social skill. Because it is needed for effective communication with the patient, and also to gain their cooperation.
Compliance is a vital asset in pediatric dentistry. It is mainly the determining factor that dictates the treatment outcomes for pediatric patients. A dentist first needs to get the children calm, so he can take control of the situation.
Pediatric patients experience a great amount of anxiety when visiting a dentist. Especially those visiting for the first time. Different methods like pharmacological interventions and behavioural modifications have been employed to help them over. But neither of these methods has proven to be as effective as Augmented Reality.
Augmented Reality is used to create an artificial environment with virtual images that depict the entire dental procedure, by showing the pediatric patients that they have absolutely nothing to worry about. Studies have shown that the success of the method is unprecedented, as children show fewer signs of anxiety because of this approach.
Patient management is key to this practice. And dentists have discovered that the best way to gain their patient’s trust is to display virtual scenarios before the treatment commences. This helps keep the patients relaxed, and also assists them in understanding the treatment, and eliminates fears or anxiety.
Benefits Of Using AR In Dentistry
Judging from the numerous applications of Augmented Reality in the field of dentistry, it is undoubtedly to say that its benefits precede our imagination.
AR technology has brought a tremendous amount of advancement and evolution to the practice. And dental procedures are now handled with ease and have a significant amount of success with fewer complications.
Below is a list of some of the few benefits of Augmented Reality in dentistry:
- Improved accuracy and efficiency in dental procedures.
- Provide patients with a more realistic understanding of their dental problems and treatment options.
- Make dental education more engaging and effective.
- Reduce the cost of dental care.
- Increased patient satisfaction.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the benefits of using AR in dentistry?
There are several potential benefits to using Augmented Reality in dentistry, including:
- Improved accuracy of dental procedures.
- Reduced risk of complications.
- More comfortable dental procedures for patients.
- A better understanding of dental treatment for patients
How is AR used in dentistry?
Augmented Reality can be used in a variety of ways in dentistry, including:
- Dental implant placement.
- Orthognathic surgery.
- Oral surgery.
- Dental education.
What is the future of AR in dentistry?
Augmented Reality is a rapidly developing technology, and its potential applications in dentistry are vast. As AR technology continues to improve, we will likely see even more innovative and effective ways to use AR in dentistry in the future.
A final thought on Augmented Reality In Dentistry
Every day, man hinges forward in his quest to integrate recent technological advancement into the day-to-day activities of human endeavors and professions. To create a world that operates on a digitalized system which makes our job easier for us.
This is to say that the use of AR in dentistry has the potential to improve the quality, efficiency, and affordability of dental care. As AR technology continues to develop, it is likely to play an increasingly important role in the future of dentistry.