Digital dentistry (fixing your smile conveniently)

Dr Alistair Graham

Dr Alistair Graham

In our fast-paced world, digital technology helps us all to perform better at work and live more comfortably. 

Why should dentistry be any different?

Dentistry has certainly come a long way since the start of the 19th century, when dentists relied on the power of their imaginations to diagnose problems (there were no X-rays back then). 

You can imagine the relief when German physicist Wilhelm Rontgen discovered X-rays in 1895, but this was not without its limitations and health risks.

Fast forward to the present and innovation has gifted us with safe digital X-rays that show the smallest details in hidden places. We can also deliver anaesthesia without pain, quickly restore damaged teeth and accomplish many other wonderful feats.

If your dentist has ever asked for your feedback on a 3D mock-up of your dream smile, then you know what I mean! 

At Mona Vale Dental, we use innovative digital instruments that help us to safely and accurately diagnose problems – before performing quality treatments that our patients feel confident about.

All of our patients benefit from digital dentistry, whether you’re coming in for cosmetic, general or emergency reasons. 

What is digital dentistry?

Dentists and hygienists use advanced devices that are integrated with computer or digital technology, to deliver the best care to patients.

Here are some of the most common digital dentistry uses:

  • Examine and diagnose conditions, even in areas that aren’t visible to the eye.
  • Capture dental impressions (without using the traditional putty that makes patients gag with its unpleasant taste).
  • Manufacture ceramic restorations at the clinic, instead of sending it away to an external laboratory.
  • Create accurate previews of proposed treatments, so patients can review and edit the design of their new smile.
  • Deliver the highest quality treatments, guided by precise data.

Digital Dentistry tools that Mona Vale Dental is proud to use

Here are the main tools that our dentists use in their day-to-day consultations and treatment sessions.

CEREC in-house milling for veneers, same-day crowns and other restorations:

CEREC is short for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics (a real mouthful!). 

This 3D digital dentistry is revolutionising the way that dentists design and install restorations. 

Computer-guided milling technology creates a customised ceramic restoration in the next room during your appointment, based on a digital impression that was just taken of your mouth. 

You no longer have to tolerate the pain for another few weeks, while waiting for the restoration to be manufactured off-site and sent to your dentist. We can bond the restoration to your teeth on the same day that we create it. 

How it works using the example of same-day crowns (completed in a single appointment):

  1. We make space for the new crown by preparing your tooth. This sometimes means filing a small amount of enamel.
  2. We use a digital scanner to take photos and accurate measurements of your mouth. No need for foul-tasting impression materials!
  3. We use CEREC software to create a digital restoration based on the data from this digital impression. 
  4. Our on-site milling machine takes only 15 minutes to create a quality porcelain crown that fits your exact measurements.
  5. Your dentist polishes the crown and ensures the colour matches your other teeth perfectly, before bonding it to your teeth.

CEREC milling machine shows digital dentistry in action

Intra-Oral Camera:

This small camera takes high-resolution photos of your teeth and gums. These images are magnified and displayed on a computer screen so you can see what we see. 

Your teeth are visible in more detail than ever before, so potential problems are easier for us to detect. We also use the digital dentistry photos to explain our diagnosis and treatment, because we don’t want you in the dark about any of it. 

Computer-guided implant assessment and placement:

An accurate digital impression is taken of your mouth and jaw. We then use advanced computer planning software to decide on the optimal position for your implant. A template is created, which helps us to place the implant in the most precise position during the procedure – optimising success rates and recovery time. We can also attach porcelain teeth to the implant post on the very same day.

Low radiation digital X-Rays:

Digital X-rays are a safe imaging tool – emitting at least 80 per cent less radiation than conventional X-rays. 

Digital imaging also enables our team to review your X-rays instantly, so you don’t need to come back for another appointment to discuss the findings. 

We can display the enlarged images on a computer monitor for your viewing. You’ll see extremely detailed images that help us make an accurate diagnosis, before creating a suitable treatment plan. Digital dentistry is all about safety, accuracy and convenience! 

The Wand digital anaesthesia:

We now have a computerised wand to deliver local anaesthetic, without the pain of a needle. You won’t even feel a pinch! Sounds too good to be true, but it really works. A needle is still used, but you feel absolutely nothing. How? Anaesthetic first drips down the wand to numb the tissue before the needle is inserted. This is perfect for anxious patients and children. 

Watch it in action here:


3D cone beam CT imaging (CBCT):

Digital dentistry has the finest solution for situations that require a comprehensive 3D view of the mouth. Digital x-rays are suitable for most situations, but cone beam imaging is more effective for some cases (like detecting problems in the jaw). This compact CT machine gives dentists a highly accurate 3D perspective of teeth, soft tissues, nerves, bone and jaw. Cone beam CT imaging produces 10 times less radiation, compared to traditional X-rays.

Digital Smile Design (DSD) for smile makeovers:

Many people hesitate to undergo cosmetic treatment without knowing what the final result will be, which is fair!

Now you can preview your proposed smile (down to the exact detail) before deciding whether or not you want to commit to the procedure.

You can even take the mock-up designs home and get feedback from the people who know you best. Simply let us know if you want to change the design in any way, and we will adjust it.

If you give us the green light, we then use the accurate data from digital technology to deliver the highest quality treatment.

This is how Digital Smile Design works:

  1. The problem is diagnosed with the latest digital instruments that show us far more than conventional X-rays.
  2. We then use digital dentistry imaging tools to capture your facial measurements and expressions, so that your new smile suits your face and personality.
  3. We create a 3D mock-up of your dream smile, which you can “try on”.
  4. Your feedback is important to us, so we make changes to the design if you ask us to.
  5. It’s time for the procedure, sit back and relax as we use the most effective equipment (while also making sure you feel comfortable).

Digital Smile Design is being used for a smile makeover

How our patients benefit from digital dentistry

  • Fewer appointments needed (save time and money)
  • The problem (and pain) is resolved faster
  • Better results, as treatments are guided by accurate digital data
  • Considerably less radiation from X-rays
  • Patients are more comfortable during procedures
  • No pain when getting local anaesthetic 
  • More collaboration. You feel included in the decision-making, whether we’re designing a smile makeover or banishing an oral infection
  • Never worry about gagging on foul-tasting impression tools again!

Digital dentistry is used for all situations at Mona Vale Dental

Our team is passionate about delivering the best dental care to all patients, no matter what brings you to our door. We’ve been trained to use advanced technology for all dental problems. 

We also specialise in Digital Smile Design for cosmetic procedures (not many Australian clinics have been accredited, but we have). Mona Vale Dental offers a complimentary Digital Smile Design consultation so you can decide if your smile is worth investing in.  

Fill out this contact form or call our team on (02) 9997 1100 for more information.

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