The Digital Dentist: X-Ray Scans Make Patients Less SquemishApril 13, 2011 No Comments
Digital X-Ray scanning technology is changing dentistry.
In fact, it’s significantly reducing the amount of time a patient needs to spend in the dentist’s chair.
“It’s a significant time saver for people,” says Dr. Deryl Dangstorp, one of a growing number of tech-savvy Canadian dentists who have invested in a system that enables them to design their own crowns on a computer and then build them in their dental clinics, rather than sending them to a lab to be done.
Using this system, a crown can be done in a single visit, instead of the customary two or three.
“It’s the same technology that the dental labs are using,” the Regina-based Dangstorp said. “But this is the dentist’s version.”
Dangstorp was quick to point out that he still uses the services of a dental lab, as well. For example, he can’t build crowns with metal, so he continues to send those out to be made.
The crowns made at Dangstorp’s dental clinics start off with a square block of porcelain or ceramic glass.
“A few years back, there was only one manufacturer and one kind of block. Now there’s nine types of blocks, and there’s four different manufacturers,” he said.
While the system isn’t currently the norm in dental offices, it’s continuing to grow in popularity, Dangstorp said.
“It’s not a new idea,” he pointed out. “The first idea was thought of in the late ’80s. The problem was the idea was ahead of the technology. The computers weren’t as fast. Scanning wasn’t as accurate. The software wasn’t as advanced as it is now.”
“Today’s improved scanning accuracy, camera accuracy, improved processing speed on the computer, are all now pulling this idea forward,” he said.
Regular software updates make it easy to keep up with the latest advancements, Dangstorp said.
“It’s like anything else — we’re moving away from hand-to-eye, man-made and moving more to the computer,” Dangstorp said. “We’re scanning the tooth. We’re designing it on the computer. We’re tracing the margin with the computer.”
The process Dangstorp uses to build crowns, from beginning to end, requires a 1 1⁄2- to two-hour appointment. But the patient is actually only being worked on for about 30 or 40 minutes of that time. While waiting for their crown to be designed, milled, baked and glazed, patients can either watch TV, read a magazine or even get some work done.
At the end of the appointment, the restoration is complete and the patient can eat right away,
Fitting dental appointments into busy schedules can be challenging, Dangstorp conceded. So the fewer visits required, the better for most people, he said. Because patients from rural areas often have to travel a considerable distance to get to dental appointments, they particularly seem to appreciate only needing to make one trip to the dentist to get a restoration done, Dangstorp said.
“It’s convenient. But it also makes a great crown,” he said.
Dangstorp, who has two dental offices in Regina and one in Emerald Park, has invested in two systems that allow him to build his own crowns: the E4D, which is made in the U.S., and the Cerec, which is the European version of the same thing.
“With this system, you come in once. We prepare the tooth. We then scan the prepared tooth. And then we design your crown right here in the office on the machine. And then we mill the crown out, try it on and adjust it, make sure it fits, glaze it, cement it. And then you’re done,” Dangstorp explained.
“The traditional crown, you come in, you get your tooth prepared. You get an impression. You get a temporary (crown). You come back in two weeks. You may be frozen up again, have the temporary taken off, try the crown on. If it fits, great. If not, it’s back to the lab. Make another one. Come in again,” he said.
The new system totally eliminates the need for a second appointment.
Even if, for some reason or another, the first crown that’s made doesn’t fit, which Dangstorp said is very rare, another one can be made right away, while the patient is still in the chair.
For those who don’t relish the idea of having their mouth frozen several times, or who tend to gag when traditional impressions are done, this is a more tolerable option, Dangstorp suggested. The new system is popular with both patients and dentists.
“It allows us to control it from beginning to end. We design it; we make it,” Dangstorp said.
“It’s a process that’s getting better as time goes on,” he said. “It’s a little faster, a little more accurate, a little easier.”
Price wise, it’s virtually the same as the traditional method of building crowns, he added.Tags: scanning, x-ray copying, x-ray film duplicationAround the Web, Best Practices & Top Tips, Digital Document Imaging