Diagnostic Technologies

by George Freedman DDS, FAACD, FACD, FADFE

What makes a dentist a dentist? The technical dexterity to repair hard and soft oral structures in a hard to access, and hard to see, oral cavity? The acumen to run a small health-care business effectively and efficiently? The capability to generate sufficient community and online presence to keep existing patients motivated and new patients coming in? Significantly, all of the above contribute to a successful practice, but none defines the dentist.

The expertise to determine health from disease, and its relative severity, are the judgment and skill that make the dentist, the components that constitute diagnosis.

Dental schools strive to instill this most important of capabilities in impressionable young students; continuing education is responsible for mentoring the practitioner thereafter. And innovative new technologies enhance, facilitate, and focus diagnostic skills as never before.

Dental caries is one of the world’s most pervasive diseases; mirrors and explorers are simply inadequate for accurate detection and assessment. The explorer, in fact, fosters misdiagnosis and can interrupt remineralization! Tooth-surface fluorescence analysis (Mapping Occlusal Decay) can detect and monitor enamel irregularities earlier and more predictably.

Dentists and team members use a vast variety of resin-curing lights numerous times every day. How productive is their power output and polymerization spectrum? Diagnosing the efficiency of dental technology (Successful Light Curing) is a vital component of professional responsibility.

Dental radiography has advanced from the Stone Age to the Space Age in two decades. Some of the many available options (Wireless Digital Sensors) are more comfortable for patients without diagnostic limitations.

Incandescent and halogen lights are rapidly losing ground to light emitting diodes in every sphere of illumination. In dentistry, LED polymerizing lights became the standard of care virtually overnight. Operatory lights are following the same path to versatility and comfort (Incandescent to Halogen to Diode). The precise control of illumination intensity and temperature enhances visual diagnostics to a degree never before imagined.

Snoring is a very common problem. Its treatment can be complicated by the related presence of sleep apnea. The ability to reliably co-diagnose individual cases with sleep specialists (Bruxism/Snoring Monitor) allows the dentist to select which patients are eligible for dental appliances, differentiated from those who are best referred for more complex care.

Shade matching is essential for patient satisfaction in both direct and indirect restorative dentistry. Unfortunately, most of the electronic, automated devices are still rather expensive. Standardizing the color evaluation environment (Increased Predictability) simplifies chairside shade diagnosis, shade transmission, and shade re-creation at the laboratory.

Innovative technologies expand the dentist’s information base and data gathering potential, enabling earlier, and more

definitive, diagnosis and encouraging better, faster, and easier treatment. OH