For those of us who have been around long enough, baby boomers and early generation X’s, might recall a sign like this hanging on the door of hotels in the 70’s and even 80’s. In essence, this was a clever mar-keting scheme to attract guests to reside in this facility which boasts having such modern technology (at that time) on its premises.
A color television set in each room! This is off course is opposed to the black and white version of this contraption. Can you imagine how a young person searching for a hotel room today would react to such advertisement? In a sense, this is the same blank stare I get when I talk to my dental students today who are armed with a tablet in one hand and a smartphone in the other, about digital dentistry. It is as if they are saying to me, is there any other form of dentistry? Digital as compared to what, analogue dentistry? Non-digital dentistry?
So really, what is Digital Dental Medicine? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, 7 definitions of the word digital are listed. The first two are “of or relating to the fingers or toes” the second is “done with a finger” both of which I suppose apply to dentistry at large. Another definition is “composed of data in the form of especially binary digits digital images/photos a digital readout a digital broadcast”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia refers to digital dentistry as “the use of dental technologies or devices to carry out dental procedures rather than using mechanical or electrical tools.
The use of digital dentistry can make carrying out dental procedures more efficient than using mechanical tools, both for restorative as diagnostic purposes. ‘Godfather’ of Digital Dentistry is the French professor François Duret, who invented dental CAD/CAM in 1973”.
Clearly, the dominance of CAD/CAM and it applications is rather evident in the field of digital dental medicine. This may be attributed to the large contribution of the industry in R&D over the past half a century and its commercial ramifications. Having said that, the digital dental world is not and should not be considered solely for its restorative dental applications. To start at the very beginning, dental education, in many academic institutions the world over are implementing digital aspects in their curricula while training young dentists.
Be it in basic sciences such as simulations in anatomy, physiology and pathology or clinical sciences such as virtual and haptic training of tooth preparation or dental shade matching. Also, most diagnostic sciences in dentistry such as radiology rely almost exclusively nowadays on digital media. Gone are the days of chemical processing of x-ray films and the lack of consistency of the development of such images. In real world clinical practice in dentistry it would be hard to find a single aspect which does not involve or is completely based on a digital format.
Be it an esthetic clinical simulation or even oral hygiene education for the patient. Most dental offices around the world use digital patient management software for their front and even back offices to keep the daily management of their clinics operating efficiently. Consequently, it is rater evident that digital and dentistry has become virtually synonyms and are inseparable.
This Academy, was founded and it boasts that it is one of the custodians of Digital Dental Medicine globally. It is intended to be an umbrella for all interested parties involved in all aspects of digital dental medicine to find a forum to share and exchange knowledge and experience in the field. This is achieved through having annual meetings in which researchers, clinicians, academicians and the industry meet and have a very rewarding exchange. Moreover, publications of the academy such as the official newsletter as well as all other social media outlets are also important vehicles to deliver its message.
The future is here now and it looks very exciting.
Prof. Dr. Esam Tashkandi
Founding and Council Member