Dental technologies involve everything used to support the care of patients, the procedures involved and the products or devices properly placed in recipient/patients. The following is a small glimpse of what kinds of solutions exist in our office.
It is important for our patients to know from the outset that our office does not participate in purchasing any ‘grey market’ clinical products or devices for sake of saving a bottom line. There is enormous pressure in our society (as occurring in the dental and medical community) to offer less expensive healthcare, “parts and pieces” not with-standing. There is a phrase that usually goes like this: “you get what you pay for”. Provincial and national regulatory authorities have helped shine light on the disturbing trend that various clinical materials are being shipped around the world without concern for quality control. Rather, these are made available to dentist/consumers at reduced cost, with no consent discussion.
Therefore, please know that our office is 100% committed to Health-Canada approved products that are properly distributed by certified companies in an “unbroken chain” of control. That others may decide to participate in purchasing off-market clinical products (eg. filling materials), it is very concerning. In other instances, where off-lab or mismatched technical parts may actually fit together and be useful (eg. In the connection of implant components) it usually voids the warranty of the original manufacturer and may place the components at premature risk of failure. Ultimately, the patient is left with a complex problem should the components fail. Please know that we observe and fully subscribe to the manufacturer’s protocols and designs, and use “original on original” to meet material tolerance and longevity expectations. As Dr. Morden says, “there is nothing quite like using the exact right tools for the job!” and we take pride in our office standard.
For example, the dental implants we use (see Straumann patient section) and associated products placed are original single use sterile Health-Canada approved medical devices. There are many implants sold and used in the greater community (and certainly internationally) for instance, that are not medical grade titanium. This results in corrosion products, inferior bone-integration and potentially fractured components and costly remakes.
On a different note, we are a Latex-Free office and use available dental materials free of allergens, where known. For example, our synthetic white fillings and sealants are BPA-free.
Equipment is procured in our office from certified technology suppliers, supported and maintained according to manufacturing standards. Above that, we have committed to established service contracts and expect the technological investments made will continue to show the long-term benefits: improved diagnostic quality and efficiency, and ultimately this relates to patient care and safety. In treatment delivery, everyone certainly appreciates equipment dependability.
Each dentist and dental assistant has been trained to use a Zeiss Pro-Ergo dental operating microscope to complete certain treatments that require extraordinary precision, illumination and visualization. In dentistry, better optics enable better diagnostics and treatment quality. A surgical operating microscope is a critical clinical instrument used in medical disciplines as well, such as in ophthalmology, neurosurgery and dermatology. Minimally invasive dentistry is possible. In certain cases, it also allows for fewer visits and sometimes no local anesthetic (see zeiss.com). Applications in pediatric dentistry, sinus augmentation and endodontics (root canals) are certainly our mainstay.
Lasers have made a lot of news over the years, and there have been many promises! We employ an 810nm diode soft tissue laser when necessary to assist with clinical treatments. Non-surgical soft-tissue approaches have been shown to be effective and conservative and are often put to use in esthetic and poorly responding soft-tissue zones.
A well designed sterilization system is in effect and is continuously monitored to ensure 100% compliance and quality control. This system is built around the non-compromising design of standard medical steam sterilization that involves pressure and temperature controls and high design fidelity. Every procedural instrument used in the patient’s mouth is numbered and tracked, proven sterile before use.
You might also see some smart tech around the dental chair – in the use of medical grade computer keyboards with touch-sensor surfaces that can withstand repeated treatment with standard clinical dis-infectants (see cleankeys.com a Canadian product).
A 3-D x-ray unit is also an essential and dynamic part of our daily clinical service. Of the most remarkable developments in modern radiology, the 3-D unit is a workhorse in characterizing micro-pathology (like tooth lesions, cysts, and sometimes cracks, etc) as well as mapping out the topography of planned implant sites (including the sinuses), root canal spaces and internal configurations, as well as TMJ (jaw joint) anatomy. The technology is high in working value for routine clinical dentistry (root canals, surgery, diagnostic, follow-up) and has advanced considerably in the past decade. While once more of a research tool, it is smart tech utilized in our office in some way every single day. We use a limited field of view (FOV) to allow the dentists to dynamically review the case, often just after completing a clinical examination. A small FOV scanner is advantageous and different than wide FOV that other offices may employ if not for different reasons.
While patients attend regular appointments, a digital (paperless) clinical chart also works to keep everyone organized behind the scenes. We use a Canadian clinical chart and scheduling system (AbelDent) that is a secure electronic solid-state technology 30+ years in the making. We email appointment reminders that can be confirmed by a click of a single button. The software is considered a medical device and is certified in Canada. The use of a well-designed clinical charting system is a reason enough to avoid a medical error.
Last but not least, a backup mobile unit with independent compressor/water supply and inserts allows your treatment to be completed should there be an equipment failure on the treatment floor. It is nice to have a backup light, chair, or motorized/pressurized equipment set given that we see thousands of patients every year. The same mobile equipment creates opportunity for an emergency home visit when a situation arises for a patient who may be unable to visit us. Emergency medical equipment on-site that exceeds the provincial regulatory requirement includes pressured oxygen and a certified defibrillator.