EVANSTON — A visit to the dentist’s office is frequently depicted at one of life’s most unpleasant necessities, full of discomfort if not outright pain. But now state-of-the-art technology is revolutionizing the practice of dentistry, and Evanston’s Arrowhead Dental is offering this new tech to area patients.
The three dentists at Arrowhead Dental, Dr. Jonathan Morgan, Dr. Greg Dover and Dr. Jordan Argyle, have invested in the new technology to provide patients with options to avoid complications, reduce pain and decrease the number of office visits for patients needing dental services like crowns.
Dr. Morgan said their office is one of the few in the country to have the equipment available and was the first in Wyoming to invest in five different machines designed to improve the practice of dentistry.
For starters, Arrowhead now offers 3-D digital X-rays for patients who have the need for them. Morgan said the X-rays are amazing because of the improved views and ability to see so much more detail than standard X-rays.
In addition, the dentists have begun to make use of Cone Beam Computer Technology (CBCT) for in-house dental surgeries, which takes thousands of pictures of a patient’s mouth and combines them to generate a computerized image. With the image, Morgan said they are able to map out the nerves and sinuses to avoid complications when doing dental implant procedures.
“We’re able to put the implants in the 3-D image first, before doing it for real,” said Morgan. This helps to avoid complications and allows more precision in the surgery. There are also time advantages, he said, as an implant procedure that once took 30-40 minutes can now be prepped in advance, so the actual implant procedure can be completed in only 5-10 minutes.
“Before we had to cut the gums, expose the bone, make holes in the bones, and do a lot of trial and error to get the implants where we needed them,” he said. The greater precision results in less pain and decreased healing time for patients.
Dr. Morgan said Arrowhead has had the new technology since the fall of 2017, and they have found they’re now able to do more complex oral surgeries in-house instead of referring people to Utah.
Other cutting-edge technology being used at Arrowhead includes the CEREC software system that allows a dentist to “paint” across the surfaces of the mouth to create computer images for dental restoration. The images include detailed information on surface thicknesses and alignment.
These computer images can then be shared directly with another machine, similar to a 3-D printer, that will create custom pieces, like crowns or implants, for a patient’s mouth in-house, in one visit. After the custom pieces are created, there’s also a machine, like a kiln for ceramics, to heat and harden them prior to placement.
“We can now get crowns done in one appointment instead of three because we don’t have to do impressions,” said Morgan.
“We’re getting patients in from crazy distances because we have this,” said Morgan, with the longest distance being a patient all the way from Germany.
He said patients regularly come up from Utah as well because the technology is so state-of-the-art and not easy for most dental offices to afford.
“The expense here in our office is shared [among] three dentists so we’re able to invest in some of this stuff that maybe other offices can’t,” he said.
Dental assistant Wendy Griffith said patients are frequently amazed by the process and enjoy their dental visits because of all of the new gadgets.
“We have patients who come back and stand here and watch the implants being made,” she said.
Dr. Morgan said all three dentists in the office have been trained on the new technology, as have several of the dental assistants. The training is an ongoing process.
“The technology has been similar for several years, but it just keeps getting better,” he said.
While it may be easy for both patients and dentists to get excited about the precise and informative technology, Morgan and Griffith agree that the best part of the new technology is the benefit provided to patients. “It saves people time, with improved results and fewer complications.”