Last year, we promoted our 1Dental Scholarship to different universities and colleges in the hopes of helping one aspiring dental student put some money toward their college tuition. We believe investing in the future of dentistry is greatly beneficial.
We asked all applicants to not only tell us a bit about themselves and their credentials but to also answer one question for us in at least 500 words: What recent or upcoming technology do you think will reshape – or is already reshaping – the field of dentistry?
We had several great entries, but, ultimately, we decided to award our 1Dental Scholarship to Jessica Terpstra, aspiring orthodontist. See her response to this question below:
Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralization
It can be argued that the worst part about having a minor cavity isn’t the lesion itself, but the painful drilling that one must suffer through when getting the cavity filled. There could quite possibly be a time in the near future, however, when these painful drilling procedures are a thing of the past.
Researchers at King’s College London are currently developing a new procedure that uses low frequency electrical currents to allow teeth to heal lesions, or cavities, “by themselves.” The technology required to perform this new procedure is called, “electrically accelerated and enhanced remineralization.” This technology could put an end to fillings for early-stage lesions and moderate tooth decay, and, eventually, it could lead to new treatments for more advanced tooth decay. Researchers predict that “electrically accelerated and enhanced remineralization” could make it into dentist’s offices within the next three years.
When a dentist looks at a patient’s x-ray and diagnoses the patient with a cavity, he or she is looking at a tooth that has lost minerals and has started to decay. This is when the “remineralization” process becomes very important. Teeth can actually naturally repair themselves by replacing the lost minerals with those found in saliva or fluoride. For roughly thirty years, researchers have been trying to enhance this process and achieve a way that will remineralize large and established tooth lesions. A research team at King’s College found the solution to this problem when they began focusing on removing saliva and tissue, which can act as barriers to the remineralization process. After this, the research team used electrical currents to drive minerals into the tooth.
In theory, a dentist working in the field would be able to place a “healing piece” on the surface of his or her patient’s tooth for the duration of the relatively quick operation. The “healing piece” would emit an imperceptible electric current that drives minerals back into the damaged tooth. This operation would cost roughly as much, or less, as traditional cavity fillings would cost, and it would take about the same amount of time to perform. Using “electrically accelerated and enhanced remineralization,” a dentist could achieve complete tooth remineralization that would normally take weeks in an order of magnitude that is faster and better. King’s College is currently running patient trials for the technology used to perform this “electrically accelerated and enhanced remineralization” treatment.
The World Health Organization currently estimates that sixty to ninety percent of schoolchildren and nearly one-hundred percent of adults worldwide have some form of dental cavities. This new technology could help meet the growing demand for pain-free, effective solutions to cavities. More importantly, this technology wouldn’t discourage people from returning to the dentist’s office in fear of having to suffer through a painful drilling procedure. As a result of this, more patients would be willing to visit the dentist and could potentially get treated for many other serious dental problems, such as gum disease.
We thank Jessica for her entry and insight into what future or current technology is reshaping the field of dentistry and we wish her the best of luck as she pursues a career in dentistry.
What recent or upcoming technology do you think will reshape – or is already reshaping – the field of dentistry? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.