An article published in the International Journal of Dentistry aptly quotes “Today, the digital revolution is changing the workflow and consequently changing operating procedures.” The story went on to highlight the areas of: 

  • Image acquisition
  • Data preparation/processing
  • Production
  • Clinical applications (using digital dentistry on patients)

Headshot of Julian Conejo, director of chairside CAD/CAM at PDM in white lab coat, tie, brown hair and eyes.But, what does this mean for you as a dental patient?

In addition to enabling dentists to practice the latest approaches in dentistry, dental technology helps provide patients with higher standards of quality, comfort, and more.

 To share more about the innovative and exciting ways Penn Dental Medicine has and continues to be at the forefront of the latest trends in dental technology, we sit down with Julian Conejo, assistant professor of clinical restorative dentistry, and director of chairside CAD/CAM medication for Penn Dental Medicine.

How Do Dental Professionals Utilize Dental Technology? 

Many patients at PDM often ask: 

What is the latest dental technology? How is it used? 

Examples of dental technology that we routinely use here at Penn include: 

  • Intraoral scanners
  • Milling machines
  • Computer software for record-keeping

Intraoral scanners and milling machines are useful in many areas of dentistry, but particularly in restorative dentistry. At Penn Dental Medicine the digital dental lab utilizes a sophisticated CAD/CAM milling machine. 

“CAD/CAM means “computer-aided design, computer-aided manufacturing,” Conejo explains. “We can use CAD/CAM to make intraoral scans if the patient needs a veneer or a crown. We can scan it quickly, design it in the software, and then put a block of ceramic or any material that we want and mill it.” 

This means that rather than having to wait days (or even weeks) a veneer or crown can be made in specific, targeted colors, with the CAD/CAM milling process—only taking around 10 minutes to complete! 

A female dental student with long dark hair works with dental technology in dental clinic lab using computer software.“Instead of the patient needing to come back twice for the same procedure we can deliver same-day ceramic restorations,” Conejo says. 

This form of dental technology saves time for both dentists and patients; an efficiency that was just beginning a mere decade or so ago.

Patient Dental Technology Benefits

In his role with Penn Dental Medicine’s digital dental laboratory, Conejo says that digital dentistry provides the “high-quality information needed to optimize treatment planning.”

As a result, patient benefits of dental technology include:

  • Early detection of dental health issues. The human eye can only see so much. Intraoral scanners, digital X-rays, and other types of dental tech allow dentists to intervene much more quickly, potentially preventing the need for more invasive dental treatments. 
  • Increased comfort. Unlike more primitive dental tools, more progressive dental technologies such as lasers and ultraviolet light make many dental treatments  less invasive and more efficient. This means greater comfort for patients who often experience reduced pain and side effects and are able to heal more rapidly.
  • Greater Precision. Because dental technology improves the efficiency of dental procedures, it provides greater precision. In turn, the probability of misdiagnosis is reduced, the patient doesn’t have to stay in the dental chair as long, and it’s easier to make treatment plans personalized to each individual patient.
  • More time saved. Most types of dental technology—like CAD/CAM milling—significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to complete dental treatment, providing more convenience for patients. 

Dr. Conejo in PDM digital dental lab working next to a long row of stainless steel dental technology equipment. “By seeing my patient and making an intraoral scan and a 3D image of the hard structures—the bone with the Cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT)—and merging those files together, I then have all that information in my computer,” Conejo says. “This means I can start treatment planning, integrating facial scans, intraoral photos, and extraoral photos—even if the patient isn’t present.” 

Take Advantage of Dental Technology and Evidence-Based Practices 

Because Penn Dental Medicine is a teaching practice closely linked with the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, patients receive the latest approaches in dentistry from student dentist guided by industry-leading faculty members. Together, these established and future dentists utilize state-of-the-art equipment and technology embedded in evidence-based research. The result: high-quality dental services and top patient-centered care.

To learn more about the PDM digital dental lab, click here. Or, call the PDM office at 215-898-8965 to schedule an appointment.

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