The Future On Little Cat Feet

by wjw on May 27, 2012

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I broke a tooth and needed a crown.  I’ve had a temporary filling while I’ve been traveling, but yesterday I had the actual procedure.

Which led to a number of those science fiction moments in which you suddenly realize that you’re living in the future.  I’ve had laser dentistry before, in which I was surprised to see smoke rising out of my mouth and smell my own flesh burning, and this time I had it again.  But what was new this time was my dentist creating a custom crown on what was basically a CAD program.

He took laser measurements of my mouth, accurate (he said) to within an angstrom.  He then fitted a virtual crown to what remained of my tooth, used Photoshop-like techniques to trim it so that it would fit on my jaw and mesh properly with the set of teeth opposite.  Then the crown was cast to the computer-generated specifications, tested to see if it would fit, and then baked to full hardness before being cooled down (while I had breakfast somewhere else), then fitted into my mouth.

It’s one of those things I could have predicted if I’d ever bothered to think much about the future of dentistry, but as I wasn’t writing a series called Jefferson Smith, Space Dentist, I hadn’t.

I don’t know when this system came in, since I haven’t needed a crown in 10 years or so, but, y’know, now it’s there, and it’s still sufficiently new that the dentist hadn’t got bored showing it off.

So there it is.  More future for us all.  I only hope I don’t have to break more parts in order to see the next breakthrough.

Dirk Bergstrom May 27, 2012 at 7:19 am

I had a crown done last year in a similar manner, except instead of casting it they milled it out of a block of ceramic in a little CNC machine in the dentist’s office. I sat and watched it do its thing while I drooled. Strange thing, living in the future…

Ralf The Dog May 28, 2012 at 5:45 am

This is the future? I want my fusion powered pizza oven!

Kathy May 28, 2012 at 6:38 am

If this is the future, can they make me new knees while I wait?

Pat Mathews May 28, 2012 at 12:08 pm

That’s good to know in case I need a crown in the near future – which may happen. (My teeth have seven decades on them). Thanks – isn’t technology wonderful when it works like that?

Shash May 28, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Envy. I just had a crown done the old fashioned way. It was so high that, after the fitting, the surface barely has a bump in it. That’s no way to eat a steak.

DensityDuck May 29, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Three Panel Soul on this: (see “On Advancements”)

TRX June 4, 2012 at 5:06 pm

> Jefferson Smith, Space Dentist

How about “Prostho Plus” by Piers Anthony? Or “Help, I am Dr. Morris Goldpepper” by Avram Davidson?

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