The dental field has undergone significant improvements since its beginning 200 years ago. In the early days, even the simplest procedures according to our modern standards were messy, painful, lengthy and even life-threatening ordeals.

Going in to the dentist today to replace a crown or a filling can be done in no time and there are no dangerous risks involved.

The dental technology advances we enjoy today over the crude technology of the past is vast and numerous. Here are just a couple:

High-tech x-rays. Digital x-rays are quickly replacing the traditional film based x-rays. Digital x-rays are more efficient and faster and the amount of radiation the patient is exposed to is significantly less.

Digital x-rays include inserting an electronic senor onto the patient's mouth which captures the image and relays it to a computer. Dentist no longer have to leave the x-ray room to take each individual image.

With digital x-rays, the patient's images can be compared to better monitor progress.

Cavity detection lasers. In the past, dentist would detect cavities by poking every individual tooth with a sharp instrument. A tooth would be looked at for cavities if the instrument stuck into the tooth. This time-consuming and inaccurate method of cavity detection has gotten replaced with diode lasers. The lasers can accurately and efficiently screen all teeth for cavities and provide additional information for the dentist alerting him or her to either monitor the at-risk tooth or to have the cavity treated right away.

CAD / CAM technology. Crowns and bridges use to take multiple office visits, with time in between for the crowns to be made. Sometimes when the crowns came in the fit or the painting would not be correct. The CAD / CAM technology available today, however, allows the dentist to take a picture of the patient's tooth and drill it to be ready for the crown. A machine makes the crown based on the image measurements. Patients can now get their crowns the same day.

Improved implants . The early implants were often unstable and uncomfortable, often failing. With better materials and improved techniques, dental implants can now last 15 years or more and the vast majority of them are now successful.

Better bonding and filling. Today's bonding substitutes are made of resin, which gives it a shiny look. The bonding used today also lasts longer.

Most dental patients are likely use to the amalgam (metal alloy) fillings. Today's fills are now composite or porcelain, which adds to the aesthetics of the patient's smile.

Thinner veneers. Veneers are thin coverings that go on the outside surface of the tooth. They help reshape and enhance the appearance of an unsightly tooth. Traditional veneers require the surface of the tooth to be shaved to accommodate for the thickness of the veneer. New veneer materials, however, result in even thinner veneers which means less of the tooth needs to be shaved off.

More effective gum treatment. A main cause of gum disease is the presence of germs and bacteria that have accumulated between the pockets of the gum that surround the teeth. Older gum disease treatment mercifully bought to reduce the size of the pockets. Today's gum treatment not only closes the pockets, it uses regenerative, not surgical methods for stimulating gum tissue growth as well as that of the jaw bone.

Better mold materials . There was a time when mold and putty used for impressions and to properly fit dental appliances was messy, nasty-tasting and caused occasional discomfort and reactions. Today, alginate impression molding material is non-toxic, has a longer shelf life, is easy to make and is cost-efficient.

Dentistry has come a long way and will continue to progress as more technology becomes available. The new dental technology enables dentists to do what could not be done in the past. Modern dental procedures are safe, quicker and significantly less painful.