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12 Oct 2023 | Australasian Dental Practice

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Digital imaging essentials for your practice

By David Petrikas

Digital imaging technology has gone from a "nice to have" to a "must have" in contemporary dental practice. Since the changeover from wet film to digital imaging, there has been significant growth in both the quality and the range of tools to carry out oral examinations. Yet despite this, some dentists still overly rely on a visual oral examination with a dental mirror. This method may miss identifying trouble spots and can result in inaccurate diagnosis and missed early intervention opportunities.


Intraoral cameras

A far more reliable and consistent approach to the early and accurate diagnosis of problems is the use of a quality intraoral camera, such as the slimline Sopro 617 and Sopro 717 intraoral cameras - or the more advanced SoproLIFE and SoproCARE intraoral cameras with built-in caries detector function.

Thanks to their high magnification, these cameras can easily detect problem areas not visible to the naked eye for further examination and additional diagnosis as required. They are also invaluable "practice builders" by involving the patient directly in the problem identification and treatment planning.

Images acquired with the simple swipe of a button can be captured for display on a video monitor and also saved to the patient file as a medico-legal record and to allow monitoring of the tooth over time.

Caries detectors

In the case of the SoproLIFE and SoproCARE intraoral devices, caries and gingival inflammation can be detected early thanks to the use of fluorescent light. In "diagnostic" mode, the reflected image is displayed on a video monitor and clearly identifies demineralised dentine and the early stages of caries.

During "treatment mode" a tooth can be examined again under fluorescence on high magnification during excavation to determine the extent of caries and differentiate between "affected" and "infected" dentine.

This can assist the practitioner in performing minimally invasive dentistry with minimal excavation and reduced use of restorative materials to help preserve the integrity of the existing tooth structure and allow the surrounding tissue to heal.

The SoproCARE, favoured by oral health therapists and hygienists, also flags the early onset of gingivitis and biofilm accumulation without the need for messy disclosing solutions. It is clean, quick and effective.

Digital X-rays

Digital X-ray is the next step in the diagnosis of advanced caries, deeper endodontic and periodontic problems such as root canal issues, calcified roots, abscesses, periodontal pockets and bone regression.

Image acquisition devices used in conjunction with X-ray generators include digital sensors such as the Acteon Sopix2 and new U-SENSE sensors or a phosphor image plate scanner such as the compact PSPIX2 "desktop" scanner.

Digital sensors

The newly-released Acteon U-SENSE sensors - and Sopix2 digital sensors are invaluable in delicate root canal and implant procedures, giving the dentist or specialist a virtually "real time" view of vital structures and for positioning of instruments or appliances such as endodontic drills, implants or posts.

These sensors can be incorporated with the "Red Dot" award winning X-mind Unity X-ray generator - with its easy-to-position head, ergonomic handle and its small focal spot, which provides enhanced image quality and reduced radiation.

Using its CMOS technology, once the Sopix2 or U-SENSE sensor receives adequate exposure, it automatically switches off the Acteon X-Mind X-ray unit, adjusting X-ray dosage to patient morphology. In practice, this means lower dosage for juvenile or elderly patients with lower bone mass - and the added benefit of no more over-exposed images!

Phosphor plates

In general practice, the most efficient, affordable and practical image acquisition device is a phosphor plate image scanner. The Acteon PSPIX2 is the fastest and most compact phosphor plate scanner, processing an image in just seconds. The scanner is small enough to fit on any benchtop within the surgery - or can be shared and networked to up to ten PCs.

Acteon's imaging plates are thin and flexible and available in five sizes to suit any patient morphology, including children and infants and adults with smaller oral cavities. These are a useful alternative to those patients who struggle with a larger digital sensor.

The fine detail captured by the PSPIX2 image plate, together with optimum image contrast, highlights with precision the different anatomic structures of the tooth, enabling you to clearly identify details such as hidden or interproximal caries, pulpotomy, gum structure, calcified root canals or apical lesions.

Digital workflow

The built-in digital imaging workflow couldn't be simpler. Simply drop the image plate into the scanner and it begins processing it immediately, displaying a thumbnail image on the in-built display when completed. The images are also available for viewing in fine detail on any networked display, so you can view the information on a surgery monitor or share it with your patients.

Bringing it all together is Acteon Imaging Suite - a simple, yet powerful imaging software solution that uses an open platform "TWAIN" system that enables images to be stored on the Sopro open-source database or exported to patient management software as a medico-legal record.

Acteon Imaging Suite also links with other Acteon devices such as Acteon's X-Mind Trium and X-Mind Prime OPG and CBCT units and also external resources such as implant databases. This provides all the benefits of a fully integrated digital workflow, including Sopro Imaging's powerful imaging tools to perform detailed surgical planning and enabling images to be saved for record keeping and monitoring patient progress.

More information

Acteon Sopro intraoral cameras, X-Mind X-ray generators, PSPIX2 phosphor plate units and U-SENSE and Sopix2 sensors are available in Australia from A-dec and backed by a comprehensive manufacturer's warranty and local support.

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