CAD Cosmetic Dentistry: The Future of Dental Implants


Tom Wishart, with help from the Berkeley Clinic dental practice in Glasgow, takes a look at cosmetic dentistry and its relationship with CAD technologies. Safe to say, the future of the industry looks good for patients and dentists alike.

As anyone that has had to go through traditional cosmetic dental procedures will know, it is a long and arduous process. Creating casts of the mouth, painstaking measurements of teeth sizes and positions, and careful analysis and planning on the implants are just a few of the things that take up sizeable amounts of time and cause long wait times on dental implants being created. All the while, the prospective patient is partaking in a paltry puréed pork piece.

Thankfully, this is all changing. CAD (Computer Aided Design) and CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) solutions are becoming more widespread, even spreading to home use (think home 3D printers). Using these techniques, cosmetic dentistry has become more comfortable, of higher quality, and faster. Gone are the days of multiple visits to the dentist, gazing up into a poster of Wallace & Gromit plastered to the ceiling (hello childhood, my old friend). Now, it is possible for clients to be assessed, scanned, treated, and sent away with a sumptuous new smile all in one visit.

This change in the dental industry has allowed dentists to modernise the way they approach their business. A rise in social marketing, CAD technology, and the Internet of Things –the IoT – gives dentists a far larger array of tools to use in providing modern treatments. They can also better predict which treatment is right for the patient, ensuring the best possible smile for each individual.

Leading the Charge in Cosmetic Dentistry– The Berkeley Clinic

I have been lucky enough to be working with The Berkeley Clinic, dentist Glasgow practice who focus on high-quality dental work. Their clinic has a top-of-the-range, all-encompassing CAD/CAM suite for the purpose of dental implant creation. “We were the first dental practice in Europe to use CAD technologies for our dental implant procedures,” proudly touts Jamie Newlands, Clinical Director of The Berkeley Clinic, “I would be lying if I said it was all cupcakes and roses from the get-go. As with the inclusion of any new technology, there were a few teething problems, but we’ve learned the process and now can produce an incredible level of quality in dental implants, often in only one visit.”

The technology behind these feats is truly stupendous. A scan is made of the mouth with a hand held “wand”. The scan translates to a 3D rendering that can be used to model detailed implants specific to a client’s mouth. This removes the discomfort caused to a patient from having moulding material in their mouth for extended periods of time, and also cuts down on material costs.

The 3D model is then used in conjunction with a CAD machine to shape and set the perfect dental implant. Different materials can be used depending on the requirements; for those interested in that contemporary classic look, yes it can make gold grills.

The gist of CAD design in cosmetic dentistry is this: what would have taken a skilled technician several days to design and craft can be done in a few hours by a handheld wand-from-the-future and a piece of machinery that sounds like it’s from the set of a 1960’s Star Trek set. When considered in conjunction with other advancements in the dental industry such as dental screws and bridges – alternatives to traditional dentures (which my darling grandmother still puts in a wee cup of water every night) – it is amazing to see how far cosmetic dentistry has come in such a short space of time.



Should I Be Thinking About Cosmetic Dentistry?

Dental health is a key component to our overall health and wellbeing. Considering dental hygiene is linked to heart disease, it’s well worth considering going for a consultation. “Most practices will give a free consultation,” says Jamie, “so there’s really nothing to lose. For peace of mind, I’d advise going to your dentist and getting them to have a look at the state of your dental health.”

I took Jamie’s advice and popped in for a quick visit. I’ve never been greeted by such an elegant dentistry practice in my life. A soothing, pristine white colour scheme rules throughout. Dental assistants and dentists alike are smiling, and oh my, the smiles. I knew instantly I’d come to the right place for my consultation.

I won’t bore you with the intricate details, but it turned out all I needed was a teeth whitening session (I blame the red wine and coffee). It was comforting to know that no further work was necessary, and I would most certainly advise everyone with access to a dental practice to go and do the same.

The Future for Dental Implants and Cosmetic Dentistry

With technology developing an astonishing rate, it will be interesting to see what route cosmetic dentistry takes with regards to the in-house production of implants. Although the average dental spend is around only £90 a year, the actual figure relating to cosmetic dentistry is far higher. An increase in the involvement of CAD tech in the dental industry could result in an increase in demand, which the good old’ economy of scales tells us will result in a lower cost to the patient.

The actual future remains to be seen; trying to predict anything in today’s world is a difficult task. All I can do at the moment is sit back and enjoy my now-pristine set of gnashers.