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North Hills Monthly

Innovative Technology Adds to Patients’ Comfort and Convenience at Pawlowicz Dentistry

Mar 30, 2019 10:49AM ● By Vanessa Orr

Maxillofacial Cone Beam Computerized Technology: Dr. John Pawlowicz III (left) and Dr. Jason Pawlowicz. Photo by Dena Koenig Photography LLC

When you think of visiting the dentist, the words ‘comfortable’ and ‘convenient’ rarely pop to mind. In the past, more involved processes—such as getting implants or crowns—often required numerous appointments, and much of the work that needed to be done couldn’t be planned ahead of time.

Today, patients who visit Pawlowicz Dentistry are fortunate in that Drs. John and Jason Pawlowicz have embraced innovations in technology that make dental visits far more efficient, lessening the number of appointments needed and cutting down on time spent traveling to the dental office. 

With offices in both Butler and Mars, Pawlowicz Dentistry uses the most up-to-date equipment, highly trained team, and techniques to ensure that patients get the highest quality dental work in the most modern and advanced way possible.

“As a clinical instructor and featured lecturer at LVI Global, which is a live patient facility, I have spent hundreds of hours gaining knowledge about the latest technologies and advances that can make a positive impact for our patients,” explained Dr. John Pawlowicz, III, of the practice’s commitment to having the most innovative equipment, as well as the most caring and educated dental team.

Improving Accuracy in Implants 

With the advent of new technology, implants are easier and more convenient to get than ever before. Implants can be used to replace a single tooth or several teeth, or be used to hold dentures in place. At Pawlowicz Dentistry, a maxillofacial Cone Beam (CB) CT scanner enables Dr. John to take a 3D image of a patient’s mouth, along with the head and neck structures to “virtually” place an implant in the patient’s jaw before the surgery occurs. 

“The benefit of using 3D X-ray or a 3D CT scan is that it provides a more accurate way of performing implant dentistry. Before, if a person was missing the lower bottom molar, for example, we would take several two-dimensional X-rays. If it looked like there was adequate bone, we would begin the implant surgery using a series of guide pins and a lot of additional x-ray films to help line up the implant properly in the jaw,” said Dr. John. 

“This was a very labor-intensive, slow process, and unfortunately, we might discover during surgery that there was not enough bone for the procedure,” he added. “With cone beam computerized technology (CBCT), we can see in three dimensions, which enables us to see the proper height and width of the space. We can then project an image onto the jawbone with the tooth on top and line it up for the best result.” 

CAD/CAM technology allows Dr. John to send the image to a 3D printer so that the office can mill the drill guide ahead of time. “This minimizes surgery time, allows for a smaller surgical field and provides for quicker post-op recovery, which results in much better outcomes,” he explained. 

Using this technology, a single tooth implant surgery may take only 35 to 40 minutes, instead of one or more hours. It also helps to mitigate any issues that could pop up, such as discovering that there is not enough bone to support the implant, and helps to ensure that the implant is properly centered. 

While a number of dental offices are just beginning to offer this option, Pawlowicz Dentistry has been using this technology for the past 10 years. “It takes a lot of education and also requires a large, upfront investment, so not all dental offices are using this guided surgery technique,” said Dr. John. 

Pain Relief and Help for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

In addition to general dentistry, the practice specializes in physiologic/neuromuscular dentistry, which includes identifying and treating temporomandibular disorder 

(TMJ/TMD). Patients with this type of condition, which results from a misalignment of the teeth along with the upper and lower jaws, find that the jaw joints they use to chew with have been affected. This often causes a great deal of pain, soreness, and limits the opening of the mouth. 

Pawlowicz Dentistry uses many different type of cutting-edge computer technologies, diagnostic aids, and treatment devices to aid in the treatment of TMJ/TMD. For example, Dr. John utilizes a BioResearch 3D jaw tracking computer to analyze jaw movement in a dynamic way. With this device, he is able to measure a person’s jaw action when chewing, speaking and swallowing, as well as measure range of motion to the highest level of accuracy. 

The doctors and their team also provide pain management through a variety of different pain relief devices including a cold laser. “A cold laser is different than a regular hot laser that is used to cut tissue; through the activation of light, a cold laser accelerates the processes of the body’s cells to reduce inflammation and stimulates blood flow which promotes tissue healing and helps to alleviate pain,” explained Dr. John. 

The practice also uses cone beam computerized technology for advanced imaging of patients with TMJ/TMD problems, as well as to help screen patients that may have some type of obstructive sleep apnea. In addition to being less expensive and faster than typical CT scanners, the CBCT scanner uses less radiation and doesn’t require patients to lie in a tube. 

“The CBCT scanner aids in the evaluation of patients’ airways; most patients who suffer from snoring do so because of a collapsed airway,” explained Dr. John. “We can also use this scan for the measuring and fabrication of snoring appliances.”

Screening for Oral Cancer

When a patient comes in for a cleaning, they can also take advantage of technology that screens for oral cancer. The hygiene team at Pawlowicz Dentistry offers Sapphire Plus oral cancer screening, which is an advanced light technology that detects oral abnormalities. The procedure is painless and noninvasive, and allows hygienists and dentists to examine beyond what the eye can see. 

“According to the American Dental Association, approximately 25 percent of oral cancer cases have no known risk factors,” said Dr. John. “Screening not only offers greater accuracy in detection and possible treatment, but it saves lives. The five-year survival rate for oral cancer that is caught early is 82 percent.” 

If a different type of tissue is observed, patients are referred to an oral surgeon for a traditional biopsy. The screening is inexpensive and only takes a few minutes, and is especially important for those at higher risk, including tobacco users, those who frequently consume alcohol, and those who have had prolonged exposure to sunlight. Oral cancer is more common in men, and there is a higher risk of developing the disease after the age of 45. 

Comfort and Convenience

Gone are the days when a patient had to bite down on a “goop” filled tray for dental impressions. The practice’s CEREC machine, using CAD/CAM technology, scans a patient’s mouth to produce trayless, precise and accurate models. 

“In the old days, everyone hated having to bite down into that goop, but now a camera can be used to scan the gums and hard tissues (teeth),” said Dr. John. “It sends the information to a computer program that creates 3D renderings of the dental arches. This is great for orthodontic patients and those who want the invisible system of braces called Invisalign, or who desire immediate, same-day crowns.” 

CEREC technology also works well with CAD/CAM certified laboratories that fabricate specialized appliances to help prevent snoring. Using the CEREC machine, Dr. Jason can also produce crowns in the office to save patients from having to return to the practice for more appointments. 

“Our patients really appreciate that they can get their dental work done in a couple of hours versus two or three appointments,” said Dr. Jason.  

Pawlowicz Dentistry is located at 231 Crowe Avenue in Mars, PA, and 516 Hansen Avenue in Lyndora, PA. To learn more, visit http://wowsmilenow.com or call 724-287-4000.