Is augmented and virtual reality the future of dentistry?

Is augmented and virtual reality the future of dentistry?

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology have seen major breakthroughs, particularly in the world of gaming. But did you know that these technologies also have potential benefits in the dental industry?

According to the World Health Organization, around 3.5 billion people suffer from oral diseases. AR and VR can provide dental practitioners with new ways of diagnosing and treating various oral problems. But before diving into the potential applications of AR and VR in dentistry, here's a brief definition of these technologies.

Augmented Reality

AR technology allows users to superimpose digital content such as sounds, images, and text over real-world scenes using a smartphone, tablet, or any device with a camera. For example, you can use AR to place virtual furniture in your clinic to see what it would look like before you order.

Virtual Reality

VR technology is a computer-generated simulation where people use electronic devices to interact with a three-dimensional environment. Some practical applications of VR includes virtual tours of other countries and making education more immersive.

Dental Applications of AR

As mentioned, AR has many potential uses in dentistry, including:

1. Dental imaging

Traditionally, an X-ray is used to see into a patient's mouth, but it only provides a limited view of a patient's teeth. This would often lead to misinterpretations of root structures and underlying tissues, resulting in a less effective treatment plan.

By integrating AR and 3D imaging, dentists will be able to project an exact 3D image of a patient's mouth, allowing them to make a more accurate diagnosis. Kapanu and SmartTek have already developed AR apps that allow dental practitioners to create an accurate 3D image of a patient's teeth using real-time 3D technology.

The AR engine lets the dentist overlay virtual depictions of the new set of teeth before the procedure. This allows dental surgeons to review and make adjustments to the patient's teeth, such as their spacing and height, before the surgery.

2. Dental education and training

Augmented Reality Health and Image Navigation have created AR dental simulation software to help dental students improve their skills. These applications are designed to simulate dental conditions such as cavities, receding gums, and gingivitis, and superimpose teeth models on manikins. Dental students can then practice various treatments without having to work on a live subject. Student progress is tracked and analyzed in real time, allowing trainers to provide instant feedback and identify areas for improvement.

Children can also learn about the importance of dental hygiene through fun and immersive games that utilize AR technology.

Dental Application of VR

The thought of pain is a major cause of stress and anxiety for many dental patients, causing them to avoid seeing a dentist. Fortunately, VR can help reduce the fear, anxiety, and pain patients feel during a dental visit. By immersing patients in a computer-generated world, VR can help them relax and stay calm during a procedure.

In late 2018, a study was conducted to evaluate the effects of VR on children during pulp therapy.
Two groups of children between the ages of four and eight were randomly chosen to receive the procedure. One group was treated with the help of VR and the other without. The study showed that the group using VR technology displayed a significant decrease in anxiety and pain perception compared to the group that didn't. This enabled their dentist to treat them more efficiently.

While AR and VR are mostly associated with video games, there's no doubt that these technologies will be the future of dentistry.

Take advantage of AR and VR technologies by optimizing your clinic's IT system. A trusted dental IT partner, Pact-One can help your practice by providing high-quality IT support services to reduce the risk of costly downtime. Call us now to learn more.


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