Innovative technology is making dentist visits more comfortable. Gone are the days of sticky, hardening molds and X-rays that need to be sent off for developing into film. Today, dental care is more precise and allows for increasingly personalized results—all which create a positive experience and improved results.
Dr. Patricia Swaintek-Lamb—known as “Dr. Patti” to her patients—is the owner of Proud to Smile Dentistry in Bernardsville, and her office is on the forefront of state-of-the-art technology. For the past 29 years, she has been building relationships with patients one smile at a time. “It is amazing to look back and see our growth,” she says. “I started with 800 square feet and two dental chairs. We now have 2,000 square feet and six dental chairs. I love the challenge of owning a practice, and I delight in being a positive healing force.”
Dr. Patti’s passion for creating beautiful smiles led her to become a clinical instructor of the Aesthetic Excellence Course, a hands-on, live patient treatment course for dentists looking to gain new knowledge and skills in aesthetic dentistry, at The Center at Dental Ceramics in Richfield, Ohio. Here she discusses the latest innovations she uses to help patients achieve healthy, beautiful smiles.
How can people keep their teeth healthy and prevent disease?
To start, practice good oral hygiene at home. Many of our patients switch from a traditional toothbrush to an electric model because people tend to scrub their teeth when using a toothbrush. An electric toothbrush has an ultrasonic motion, which squirts water in between the teeth in a sonic vibration. It removes much more plaque and is kinder to enamel and gums. The electric toothbrush does not have to be expensive; it could be a small battery-operated drugstore toothbrush.
Even with diligent brushing and flossing, conditions like gingivitis or periodontal disease can affect a person’s health. We help our patients fight gum disease and protect their oral health with Perio Protect. These are custom-made, prescription trays that deliver medication deep into the periodontal pockets, where toothbrushes, rinse and floss fail to reach. Twice a day for about 15 minutes, the patient places a small amount of prescription medicine gel in each tray, which seals to the gums and forces the medication underneath the gum. This will put an end to inflammation, bleeding gums and sensitivity. A bonus: It also whitens teeth.
How does technology better help you with diagnostics?
Our office uses digital intraoral X-rays for all our patients. Digital x-rays mean less radiation exposure. The process is also faster because we can see the images on the computer, rather than sending film to the lab to be developed. This allows us to immediately diagnose potential issues, like fractures or cavities.
In fact, most of our processes are digital. For example, in the past, if we were preparing a tooth for a crown, we would need to use putty to make an impression of a patient’s mouth, which was messy and uncomfortable. Now, we use our iTero scanner to digitally capture images that we use to make models to create the crown. This process is much more accurate than a mold or impression We also use our iTero to take digital impressions for our patients who are starting Invisalign treatment.
What other new technology do you use to improve patient care?
Patient care is our number one priority and the tools we use matter. One of my favorite pieces of technology is our THOR laser. For our patients with TMJ pain, THOR uses infrared light and is fantastic at targeting the area around the joint and relieving discomfort.
Our office also uses a LightScalpel laser. These surgical CO2 lasers are FDA cleared for use in soft-tissue surgeries, such as a frenectomy. Some of my other favorite pieces of equipment are our cone beam computed tomography, a state-of-the-art medical imaging technique that has become increasingly important in implant dentistry, and the VELscope Enhanced Oral Cancer Assessment System, which can help us identify abnormalities, including oral cancer.
How do you make patients comfortable with dental appointments?
We pride ourselves on building relationships. Our goal is for patients to see that we pay attention to them from the minute they walk through our door, that we ask appropriate questions and listen to their answers to make the visit a positive experience.
We want to make sure our patients get exactly what they want. For example, we offer our cosmetic patients a Trial Smile appointment so they can get a “real life” preview of how their finished treatment will look. Our patients love seeing how their new smile looks before they decide to proceed with treatment.
We want patients to feel heard. We want them to get their “win”—whatever that “win” might be.
Learn more at ProudToSmile.com.