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Wed 14 May 2008 10:09 AM

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Doffing my cap to dental imaging

Many of the benefits of digital dental imaging are obvious; such as the immediacy and the benefits of lower exposure to x-rays.

This month, I have been studying the pros and cons of digital dental imaging for the June edition of Middle East Dentist.

Many of the benefits of technology over tradition are obvious; such as the immediacy of the process, the lack of file storage and the benefits of lower exposure to X-rays. But it wasn't until I experienced digital dental imaging first-hand that I realised how well it can sell a treatment plan.

Just days before writing this, a temporary cap that I had fitted at some expense suddenly made a daredevil bid for freedom. As it would not be the done thing for the editor of MED to be seen cap-less, I made an appointment with a local clinic for an urgent patch-up. The practice was filled with state-of-the-art technology, which included a dental imaging system with digital radiography and intraoral photography.

Using this equipment and some clever imaging software, my doctor was able to identify a number of problems that had gone unnoticed during a recent visit to a UK clinic that used more traditional methods.

I was first shown the x-ray on the screen and, with just a few keystrokes and the odd mouse click, my doctor zoomed in - to a very high degree and with no loss of image resolution - on two potential problem areas. He manipulated the image density to illustrate how serious these issues were and to demonstrate how they progress to an inevitable and painful conclusion. Using the intraoral photography he was able to show me the not-so-pretty sight in the flesh, before swishing the mouse again and presenting the potential results of certain treatments.

These images provided a most convincing case for getting the treatment speedily underway in order to avert wider health issues in the longer term. And courtesy of the imaging console, I had a clear explanation of how the treatment would progress.

Being shown how your one of your own teeth will painfully degenerate - and being able to see a timeframe of occurrence that is in the not-too-distant future - can be quite sobering. Equally, being able to see the potential results of the work on offer can prove to be quite tempting.

I am very attached to my teeth, and now that I am one step into a five-appointment treatment plan, I hope to remain that way.

James McCarthy is the editor of Middle East Dentist.

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