The Roanoker - July/August 2017 - 56
DENTISTRY | LOOKING BACK
I DID NOT
But then when I started my dental career in 1983, nobody did.
When I recently told that to a group of young dentists, they looked at me with absolute horror. I understood completely, and it made me feel ancient.
I graduated from Medical College of Virginia Dental
School in 1981 and at that time we wore gloves only in the surgery clinic when performing extractions.
But then it's all sort of relative: When I was a young dentist, the old guys (and they
were all guys) talked about having mixed silver filling by hand. That meant handling
the mercury and alloy in their bare hands.
And they treated patients while standing up and with no assistants. Xrays were
developed by dipping them into a tank of chemicals and hanging them up to dry.
As part of my talk to the young group I asked them to imagine themselves at
the end of their careers and what they might be telling a young group. What they
think is modern now could seem so quaint in 30 years.
As with so many fields, technology has changed the way dentistry is performed
every day. Computers came in to my practice in the early '90s. At first we used
them for the business side. Appointment scheduling programs were soon added.
Now all patient records can be digital.
Today's offices have digital X-rays which are immediately available to read
on the computer. Impressions of the teeth to make models are done digitally.
You scan the teeth and then can order a model of the arch of teeth. You can
even bypass the models and directly make the crown for a tooth from the
scanned digital file with a milling machine. 3D printers are being developed
to make dentures.
Mini CAT scans are available in the office to see the whole oral system
for diagnosis. Implants are used to replace teeth or provide support for
dentures. Dental materials have improved especially for bonding restorations directly to teeth. Teeth can be fixed with resins that mimic
tooth color and provide strength for long-lasting results. Porcelain-like materials give crowns a natural
appearance. Less metal is being used in the mouth due
to these advances.
We now look at the total health of our patients. We
now know periodontal disease affects diabetes and heart
disease. In all, amazing changes and progress over the past
Above: Dr. Sandra Andrew recently sold
her dental practice after 34 years.
Left: Sandra Andrew stands with her
parents at her 1981 graduation from
MCV Dental School.
56 | JULY/AUGUST 2017