In 2017, Dr Teo introduced a remarkable piece of equipment, the Diagnocam, into her practice.
It’s since become a favourite diagnostic tool, for many reasons:
- It locates some types of hidden cavities with greater accuracy than x-rays
- It produces large three-dimensional images of the teeth, making it very easy for both Dr Teo and her patients to see the size and location of cavities
- It’s very comfortable for the patient, including those who find x-ray films difficult to tolerate
- It produces images without radiation, making the technology completely safe for every patient
The introduction of the Diagnocam into the practice has been very exciting because it provides another method of looking at disease processes that are otherwise invisible. While it can’t currently replace digital x-rays completely, its availability is particularly useful for:
- Detecting very small areas of hidden decay (in doing so, it is sometimes possible to halt the progress of these cavities and to avoid a filling)
- During check-ups for women who are pregnant
- During check-ups of small children
- During check-ups of people who cannot tolerate dental x-ray films because of a strong gag reflex
In this article, we’ll highlight some of the features of the Diagnocam and explain why Dr Teo is excited by its introduction to her practice.
Locating Cavities Without X-Rays
Cavities can develop in difficult to see places, such as between the teeth and under existing fillings. Before the Diagnocam, the only way to locate these hidden cavities was through the use of dental x-rays.
Dr Teo had already invested in high-quality digital radiography to ensure that the lowest possible dose of x-radiation can be used for locating hidden cavities. However, people sometimes prefer not to be exposed to any additional radiation: for instance, pregnant mothers.
Now, it is possible to locate some types of hidden cavities without x-rays! The Diagnocam uses DIFOTI technology (Digital Imaging Fibre Optic Transillumination): the light is emitted from a diode laser, so no radiation is produced.
While all of Dr Teo’s patients will benefit, pregnant women, in particular, will be happy to know about the availability of this radiation-free alternative.
More Comfortable And Easier To Tolerate Than X-Ray Equipment
The other challenge of dental x-rays has been that some people find it difficult to sit still for the procedure, especially young children. Others are unable to tolerate the x-ray paraphernalia in their mouths: some people have a hyperactive gag reflex, so holding an x-ray film in their mouth is at best, uncomfortable, and at worst, impossible.
Since an individual must hold completely still to have a clear, usable x-ray taken, any movement can lead to the production of a useless image and require additional exposure to x-rays in an attempt to produce a clear image.
The Diagnocam is quick and easy to use during routine dental check-ups and new patient exams. Most importantly, it is comfortable for patients, especially those with a strong gag reflex who find it difficult to tolerate other imaging equipment in their mouths.
How It Works
The Diagnocam consists of a handpiece about the size of a small torch. It has two soft tips which rest gently on the gums as it hugs the teeth. It illuminates individual teeth with the light. In this case, however, the light is emitted from a diode laser. Since the light is projected through the tooth, the process is called “transillumination.” Still or video images of each tooth are then captured with an inbuilt, high quality digital camera.
The images that are captured are three-dimensional (unlike routine dental x-rays which are a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional structure). Healthy enamel and dentine appear white, while any cavities or cracks will absorb the laser light and appear as dark areas on the screen.
You’ll Be Seeing What Your Dentist Is Seeing
Teeth are quite small, and disease processes within teeth can be difficult to see. During your appointment, the Diagnocam makes it possible to see 3D images of your teeth on a large screen, which makes it easier to see what is happening in your mouth.
Images are stored within each individual patient’s records. Hidden areas between your teeth can be monitored at every check-up and newly-captured images can be compared with older ones. If a cavity is growing, you’ll be able to see this: if you take a proactive approach to preventing the cavity’s growth, you’ll see this too.
How Accurate Is The Technology?
Remarkably accurate! Studies have shown that high-quality digital bitewing x-rays locate decay hidden between the teeth at the rate of 96.1% accuracy. The Diagnocam is even more accurate, and is able to locate cavities between the teeth with a 99.2% accuracy.
Dr Teo’s own experience using the Diagnocam within her practice supports these figures.
Like other diagnostic tools, the Diagnocam has some limitations:
- It cannot locate cavities if they are developing below gum level
- It cannot always locate cavities if they are developing underneath existing fillings
- It cannot provide images of the bone supporting the teeth, so it currently has no ability to help in the diagnosis of gum disease.
The Diagnocam is therefore generally used in conjunction with the Intra-Oral Camera and Digital Radiography during check-ups to ensure that any area of active dental disease in a patient’s mouth is located.
The Major Benefit
Besides being a comfortable to use, radiation-free diagnostic tool, the accuracy of the Diagnocam at detecting small, recently-formed cavities is potentially a huge benefit to Dr Teo’s patients.
The reason? Dr Teo embraces the principles of Preventive Dentistry and prefers to take a proactive approach to dental care. Rather than waiting for an early cavity to grow to the point that it needs to be filled, she prefers to help her patients stop early cavities in their tracks.
So when a cavity is detected when it is tiny, it can sometimes be prevented from growing, which means a filling may be avoided.
You can learn more about Proactive Dental Care here.
If you’d like to know more about the Diagnocam and how it can help you to enjoy better dental health, please feel free to call our practice.