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Dental Magnification
Loupes, Intraoral Cameras, Microscopes, Etc.

In Dr. Arturo Garcia's opinion, among the most important investments a dentist should make are in the area of vision:

1. Improved vision for the dentist, including loupes, dental microscopes, intraoral cameras, digital cameras, and digital X-rays, and

2. Improved vision for the patient, which can be achieved with intraoral cameras, television monitors, digital cameras, digital X-rays, imaging software that displays these images.

When dentists use intraoral photographs to explain their diagnostic findings, patient understanding improves dramatically. The same investment that will improve your ability to diagnose a case can give your patient the ability to see the same thing you see.

Moving to other diagnostic aids, magnifying loupes are an undeniable asset for the dentist in diagnosing and treating cases. Dr. Garcia believes that most dentists now use loupes. They have a short learning curve. When you try them, you will find yourself wanting more magnification. Unfortunately, there is a practical limit to the amount of magnification that loupes can provide.

For more magnification, a dentist would turn to a dental microscope. With a dental microscope, you can adjust the level of magnification or zoom. It will provide coaxial lighting (light in the same direction as the line of view) and allow for ideal posture for the dentist. S-video or digital camera attachments are great enhancements, and will allow you to manipulate or display the image in many formats. This dental microscope is the ultimate instrument for intraoral examination, diagnosis, and treatment. Dr. Garcia believes that the dental microscope is an essential piece of equipment for the restorative dentist.

Color photographs also help improve patient communication dramatically. There may be no better way to demonstrate a patient's condition and your proposed treatment than by using color photographs and digital X-rays. And with photographs, the bigger the better. Dr. Garcia uses intraoral camera photographs, digital X-rays, and extraoral face and smile photographs in his consultations. He also uses a 42-inch plasma screen in his consultation room to make the "truth" as big and bold as possible.

He says that his patients' reaction to these visual tools is amazing. It helps them make the problem and the proposed solution tangible. He feels that it is a mistake to discuss the treatment and especially the payment before they fully understand the problem, and that understanding comes best with the visual aids that this equipment provides.

With cosmetic cases, computer imaging works very well to demonstrate to the patient the effect your proposed treatment will have on their appearance. Have an assistant trained to be able to spot a potential cosmetic case, take a digital photograph of that patient, download that photograph to your imaging computer, put a new smile on the patient, and show the patient the print. A properly trained assistant can accomplish this in a few minutes. Before you have even examined the patient, you may find that he or she is beginning to ask what it will take to get a smile like the photograph.

It also helps to have a library of your successful cosmetic cases to be able to help patients visualize what you can do for them.

Enhanced visualization leads to enhanced communication, but it all starts with the dentist. When dentists make the commitment to enhance their vision, they are making a commitment to excellence, both in their diagnostic and treatment skills and in patient communication.

This is a commentary based on an article:
Visual enhancements aid both patient and practitioner.
that appeared in Dental Economics February, 2003
by : Arturo Garcia DDS

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