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Skip the goo

Last week I wrote something about how I hate meetings.

I also hate the dentist.

Not personally. My guy’s real nice and all. But he makes my mouth hurt. And he bears bad news. And he costs a lot of money.

My teeth are about 30 years older than the rest of my body, the legacy of a childhood addiction to Pepsi, the vilest of drugs.

So I’m well acquainted with the sinking feeling that comes with a tooth cracking off. Time for another crown.

Thanks to the Lava Chairside Oral Scanner, that whole horrible process just became a lot easier.

Briefly, your dentist can now skip the whole “bite on this goo and let it run down your throat while I watch TV for a few minutes” step of making a tooth impression. Instead, the dentist painlessly waves a small wand to create a digital scan of the offending tooth.

The data gets tossed off to Brontes Technologies, the division of 3M Co. that created the Lava, which sends it to a lab where the new crown is built.

So not only do patients skip the goo, but the crown is both a better fit and is ready sooner than it would be if the dentist had to mail a mold out and wait for the crown to come back.

The Boston Globe put together a nice, to-the-point article about the Lava. It’s worth a read. Right now the Lava is marketed as a way to map teeth to create crowns. But it appears to have a lot of potential for use in other dental procedures.

So why am I writing about this here? Why the excitement?

Two very good reasons:

1. We see so many incremental steps in technology that we sometimes miss an innovation that, though not earth-shattering, will make life both easier and more pleasant for so many people.

2. My cousin is a senior software engineer of research and development at Brontes. I got the overview of this thing a while back (actually, I was almost a guinea pig for it) and I am quite proud, by proxy, to see it hit the market.

Shifting gears here, I must confess to a sentimental moment earlier today when I reflected on the good my relatives do in their professional lives. My father makes wedding rings. My mother works with autistic children. Both teach. My aunt caters barbeque. An uncle has built his small farm into a family destination in an time when the family-owned farm is too often a sentimental memory.

And now my cousin has spared me the goo.

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