Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Veterans Get New Smiles Fast Using High-Tech Dentistry

June 10, 2008

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Prosthodontist Peter J. Gerngross, D.D.S. treats Army veteran Jocqueline Endicott with state-of-the art computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology. With this new equipment, MEDVAMC dentists are able to prepare, fit, and permanently cement a dental crown for a patient in a single appointment. PHOTO: Bobbi Gruner, PAO

 

HOUSTON - Dentists at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center are restoring teeth and giving veterans new smiles in a single sitting thanks to the latest in computer-design technology.

With computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology, combining advanced software and milling units, MEDVAMC dentists are able to prepare, fit, and permanently cement a dental crown for a patient in a single appointment. The technology uses scanning videography to take pictures of the teeth and digitizes the images using a three dimensional software program.

“This new technology is exceptionally versatile and precise. For patients, the traditional impression-making process is eliminated and having temporary crowns fall off while eating is no longer a concern,” said Harry D. Gilbert, D.D.S., Dental Section chief. “With no need for temporaries, the patient leaves the appointment with a final restoration in place.”

The software, under the direction of the dentist, constructs the restoration on the digitized model and sends the information to a carving device which mills out the final crown for insertion. The process can be completed during a two-hour office visit saving up to two- to six-week waits and office visits required by conventional techniques.

More than 100 veterans have been treated with this technology, and many more are scheduled.

Veterans are eligible for outpatient dental treatment if they are determined by VA to meet one of the following criteria:

Those having a service-connected compensable dental disability or condition are eligible for any needed dental care.

Those who were prisoners of war and those whose service-connected disabilities have been rated at 100 percent, or who are receiving the 100 percent rate by reason of individual unemployability are eligible for any needed dental care. This includes veterans with temporary ratings of 100 percent for duration of that rating or waiting for unemployability classification.

Those who are participating in a VA rehabilitation program are eligible for limited dental care necessary to complete their program.

Those having a service-connected noncompensable dental condition or disability may receive one-time treatment if it can be shown to have existed at the time of discharge or release from active duty of at least 90 days and application is made within 180 days of separation from active duty.

Those having a service-connected noncompensable dental condition or disability resulting from combat wounds or service trauma and those having a service-connected noncompensable dental condition or disability are eligible for repeat care for the service-connected condition(s).

Those having a dental condition clinically determined by VA to be currently aggravating a service-connected medical condition are eligible for limited dental care to resolve the problem.

Those with nonservice-connected dental conditions or disabilities for which treatment was begun while in a VA medical center, when it is clinically determined to be necessary to complete such dental treatment on an outpatient basis.

Those receiving outpatient care or scheduled for inpatient care may receive dental care if the dental condition is clinically determined to be complicating a medical condition currently under treatment.
       
Veterans may receive one-time dental treatment if the dental condition can be shown to have existed at discharge or release from active duty of at least 90 days.

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