Implantology has come a long way. New techniques and technologies have paved the way for dentists to perform things that weren't possible before. The 2014 American Academy of Implant Dentistry's (AAID) Annual Educational Conference held in Orlando, Florida was a time to explore some of the magic that can be found in implant dentistry today.
Digital dentistry took a large proportion of the conference as it promises to provide treatments with a degree of accuracy, predictability, and precision never before available. The transition from 2-D X-rays to 3-D dentistry is offering a type of magic that is ultimately enhancing one's practice. By using computerized tomography and 3-D implant planning software, implant surgeons can now virtually perform surgery and then execute the procedure identically in the clinic. The opportunity to fail multiple times virtually, but successfully perform the procedure in reality is significantly improving the outcomes with the immediate placement of dental implants. The message was clear: for any new technology to be of value, it should deliver the same care cheaper or better. Clearly, the move from the analog to the digital world utilizing digital planning for implants, digital placement, digital impressions, and computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) restorations is not just hype.
AAID also gave a glimpse of the future as a keynote speaker described an era of engineered tissue, a future where we grow our own body parts. Generating teeth and oral tissue were also discussed using stem cells sourced from tooth buds, baby teeth, and third molars.
Overall, the conference was an opportunity to see what the near and far future hold for implant dentistry. In a digital world, it's only a matter of time before guided implant techniques become routine. The translation from digital technology into the clinical field will open up many magical treatment possibilities at the surgical and the prosthodontics level that were unimaginable in the past.