Dentistry has come a long way in the past decade, with incredible advances in dental technology. Now, dental hygienists are taking on greater responsibility in managing and deploying these tools. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the deployment of new technologies, making them more available and efficient for both hygienists and patients. Currently, 3D printers are primarily used for more complex modeling needs, such as precision aligners and surgical implant templates.
Hand tools for hygienists have their limits, so small fiber-optic cameras are being used to play a more proactive role in preventive oral health care. Office management software is also being adopted to reduce patient exposure and improve efficiency. Teledentistry has become an innovative way to monitor patients while maintaining social distancing. Finally, artificial intelligence (AI) is still in the early stages of dental application, but it has the potential to revolutionize treatment.
Digital radiography (X-rays) is one of the most common technologies used by dental hygienists. The hygienist inserts a sensor into the patient's mouth to capture images of their teeth. 3D printers are also becoming more popular for more complex modeling needs, such as precision aligners and surgical implant templates. Small fiber-optic cameras are being used to identify and eliminate buildup of tartar below the gum line that hand tools can't reach.
Office management software is being adopted to reduce patient exposure and improve efficiency. Teledentistry allows hygienists to treat patients off-site in remote areas and to work with a dentist remotely to provide a diagnosis and assist in patient care. Finally, AI has the potential to standardize diagnostics and track changes year after year. It is essential for dental hygienists to keep up with new technologies in order to provide better care for patients. Hygienists should take a proactive approach to seeing what's available to facilitate their work and raise the level of care they provide.
If the office does not buy the technology that the hygienist wants, such as magnifying glasses, they should not be afraid to buy them themselves. Careers in dental hygiene continue to be rewarding despite challenges, as it is named the fifth best health support job. In conclusion, technology has had an important and positive impact on the tasks of dental hygienists. Digital radiography (X-rays), 3D printers, small fiber-optic cameras, office management software, teledentistry, and artificial intelligence (AI) are all technologies that dental hygienists should be familiar with in order to provide better care for their patients.