If you have ever had a crown fitted, you know the dentist has to grind and tap over and over again until he gets it just right. Well now dentists are joining hands with aerospace engineers to make the road to a better smile more comfortable and more accurate.
It is new technology called Dent-Aart, and it begins by providing a virtual view of the patient's mouth. "We take anatomical measurements of a patient, and transfer those into a computer program which then simulates exactly how that patient open and closes his or her mouth," says Dr. Jeffrey Sitterele, Ph.D. at Georgia Tech Research Institute.
"It was more pleasant in that it reduced the amount of time required to get the work done and obviously I'm pleased with the result," says Mike Prickett, a patient.
Dentists snap a picture of the patient's head using an X-ray or CAT scanner. A computer looks at the image and creates a 3-D virtual mouth that is said to be more precise than a mold. The Dent-Aart technology is still in its early testing phases, but widespread use of the technology is expected within three to five years.
Meanwhile, researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute are also working on new technologies for sprayable fillings.