Dental Technology

Is Easy and Faster Better?


By Dr. Caroline N. Thomas, Lexington, SC


We’ve noticed a quickly growing trend in dentistry toward products that are faster to use and require fewer steps... but at what cost?  Far too often, patients are also presented with information from the internet or from other offices that portray new technologies as inherently better. Some of these products include:


Same-day crowns

Laser/light teeth whitening

Charcoal and whitening toothpastes

Mini dental implants

The truth of the matter is that while technology and materials are indeed getting better, cutting steps to save time isn’t usually a great idea.  The steps are there for a reason.  You may be able to save time by combining or eliminating steps, but if the quality is compromised by doing so, what has anyone gained?  

Same-day crowns...

have come a long way in the past 5 years and definitely have their place in dentistry. These crowns can be wonderful - especially in an emergency situation - and have great patient appeal. Who wouldn’t rather get a crown in one visit and be done with it?  However, due to the fact that the skilled lab technician is removed from the process, the esthetics and fit of the crown are often not as ideal; With extensive team member training, in-office crowns can be beautiful - just be cautious and know that a crown is not "just a crown"...there is a wide range of quality. Stay tuned for how we will continue to incorporate this popular technology into our work flow at Palmetto Dental Associates. 

Laser/light teeth whitening...

can now be found in practically every mall in America. Dental research is inconclusive on whether the LED light is effective at all. “One hour whitening” may initially appear to make the teeth significantly whiter, but that is because the high percentage bleaching agent and the light dehydrate the teeth, giving them a falsely lighter appearance. The tried-and-true way to whiten teeth is via custom trays (made by your dentist) and bleaching gel worn daily over a 2-4 week period. Many patients prefer this custom tray method, because the bleaching gel does not burn or irritate the gum tissue. At Palmetto Dental Associates, we can makes these custom trays in one visit and you can keep them for years to touchup your whitening whenever desired!

Charcoal toothpastes and special whitening toothpastes... 

seen recently on social media - should be avoided. These pastes are very abrasive and thus may indeed remove mild surface stains, as would a dental cleaning, but they certainly do not lighten the tooth’s internal color. Be aware that, if used frequently and long-term, these toothpastes will strip away the white tooth enamel making teeth more yellow in appearance, more sensitive and more susceptible to cavities. According to the Journal of American Dental Association (JADA) and their analysis of 118 studies done on the topic, there is no evidence that supports these products do what they say, and furthermore, they discovered they can actually cause harm by wearing away the enamel. 

Mini dental implants...

are currently on primetime T.V. commercials which make lofty claims that patients can forego bone grafting surgeries and multiple appointments by using mini implants. Be very cautious of mini dental implants; they do not fuse with the bone and are thus not predictable long term. The only potential use of mini implants is in a very short term, temporary situation. Don’t be fooled by T.V. marketing and remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Give us a call if have a question about dental products seen in the media - one of our dentists is always happy to speak with you. 

The philosophy at Palmetto Dental Associates...

has always been to do things the correct way and not the quickest way.  While we never want to be the last ones on the block to adopt new dental technology, we certainly don’t ever want to cut corners at the expense of quality. You can rest assured that any dental technology we bring to you at Palmetto Dental Associates has been carefully considered and researched by our dentists beforehand. If you have any questions about our state-of-the-art technology offerings, we welcome your call at 803-808-0888.