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"Wow! Dentistry sure has changed over the years!"

15th September 2015

I’ve heard my patients tell me this time and time again! They are certainly amazed by just how much dentistry has changed, especially the rapid advances made in the past 10 years.  

Who here can still remember the old dental chairs powered by foot pedals? How about the obnoxious noises and uncomfortable vibrations from the old-style mouth drills? Worse still, how about those awful dental vans that used to come to your primary school?  

There are many examples of how dentistry techniques, materials and equipment have changed over the years:

Tooth Extractions

Until modern times, extractions could get very messy. In stark contrast, nowadays our modern techniques and tools have advanced to the point where extracting a tooth involves nothing more than a bit of pushing and wiggling before the tooth is removed.

Pain Relief

In the 1800s, dentists actually used cocaine to help their patients with pain relief! Then in the early 1900's Novocain was used to help partially numb the tooth, but not enough to sufficiently relieve the discomfort. Modern-day anaesthesia is designed to give complete numbness and pain relief, so the patient doesn't feel anything at all.

Science & Understanding

The general concepts and understanding of dentistry has improved in several waves over the last 100 years. During World War 1, soldiers would often have most, if not all of their teeth removed as it was thought that no teeth would mean no dental problems. These poor soldiers then had to wear full dentures for life! In the 1940s, 50s and 60s, dentists would drill and fill every hole they could see. Nowadays dentists can re-mineralise problem areas to prevent holes from growing, and monitor through regular checkups reducing the need for drilling and filling.

Dental Fillings 

It was only in the 1950s and 60s that white fillings were invented and dentists were now able to fix chipped teeth at the same time as making fillings appear more natural and aesthetically pleasing. It was also during this time that faster and stronger drills were invented so patients did not have to be stuck sitting in the dental chair for hours on end. Procedures that used to take hours can now be completed in mere minutes and with much higher quality.

Dental Implants

It was only in the 1980s that a man by the name of Professor Branemark invented the world’s first dental implant. Dental implants allow dentists to replace teeth instead of patients having to wear uncomfortable dentures that often come loose while eating! Trying to chew through a steak with dentures constantly falling out is a problem many patients no longer need to face.

Personally, of the many advances outlined above, dental implants are the biggest game-changer in modern dentistry. They allow me to help many of my patients who have been missing teeth to get their teeth back again. Over my career this is also the work my patients have been the most grateful for. Being able to help patients eat normally and confidently again is also personally very fulfilling.

Reflecting on these modern advances, I feel very privileged to be part of this exciting, new era of dentistry. There are now so many options that I can offer to help my patients in dental trouble. The future also looks exciting with new technologies continuing to develop.

At Dentists of Hawthorn we have always invested heavily in to professional development and carefully reviewed new technologies as they emerge. It is through this diligence we have been able to so carefully and consistently care for our Hawthorn community. It is this philosophy that means we will continue to be able to do this in to the future.

~ Dr Patrick Wong
   Dentists of Hawthorn

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