Session 4 – What is a VELscope and What Advantages Are There to Using It?

The VELScope is a device that is used to screen people for oral cancer, and it is a truly amazing invention that has already saved many lives by facilitating early diagnosis through simple, and non-invasive testing.

Oral cancer is considered to be a ‘forgotten disease’, and it is a huge killer it kills more people than cervical, brain and testicular cancer, but it does not get very much publicity at all. There are more than 30,000 people diagnosed with oral cancer each year in America alone, and just 57 percent of those will have a life expectancy of more than five years without getting treatment.

A lot of people mistakenly believe that oral cancer is something that people are only at risk of contracting if they use alcohol or tobacco. While it is true that regular use of alcohol or tobacco can indeed increase your risk of contracting oral cancer, one-quarter of people who are diagnosed with the disease abstain from both tobacco and alcohol use.

Because oral cancer affects so many people, and it’s not something that has a single clear risk factor, it is vital that you get regular screenings. The dentist in Jacksonville FL that I go to will perform tests for oral cancer during your regular scheduled check-up, and those tests are useful, but they can be even more accurate if they are performed using the kinds of tools that are available now in our digital dentistry age- and the VELscope is one of those tools. Check out my dentist’s facebook and twitter page as well.

What is the VELscope?

The VELscope is a blue lamp which can highlight pre-cancerous cells, and cells that are undergoing cancerous changes. It is an ‘excitation lamp’, and it uses a technology called Fluorescence Visualisation to help highlight cancerous cells. To put it simply, the dentist will shine a bright blue lamp into the patient’s mouth, and this will expose changes to the mouth that would not be visible to the naked eye. The light makes it easier to spot lesions and other issues, and it helps the dentist to spot things that might be signs of cancer.

One of the most serious challenges that dentists face when they are testing for oral cancer is the fact that a lot of the symptoms of oral cancer look a lot like the symptoms of other, less serious problems. The VELscope makes it easier for the dentist to tell what is going on under the surface, because healthy oral tissue will absorb the light that the VELscope produces, and will show up in green, while tissues that are likely to be cancerous or precancerous will become darker.

What really makes the VELscope interesting is that it can be combined with digital photography to produce a record of what is going on in the mouth. It highlights issues that cannot be seen under white light with the naked eye, allowing the dentist to see white and red patches and lesions, and spot cancer at its earliest stage. It can even be used in treatment, to ensure that diseased tissues have been completely removed. These factors mean that it an exponentially increase the chances of a patient surviving.

A VELscope examination is easy to perform, painless, and non-invasive. It can be performed in minutes, and it could save lives. To perform the examination, the dentist will first perform a standard visual examination of the face, then ask the patient to swill a pre-rinse solution around their mouth for about a minute. The lights in the room will be dimmed, and the dentist will put on some eyewear to protect their eyes from the device’s light. The VELscope is then inserted into the mouth and used to project blue light around the whole of the mouth. If the dentist spots something that looks like it may be cancerous, then the dentist may choose to take a biopsy to determine whether the cells are indeed cancerous or not. Once the results of the biopsy are back, the dentist can make an informed decision about whether or not any further action is required. Most dentists would recommend that a patient have an oral cancer screening performed once per year as a part of their regular dental health check-ups.

Session 3 – The Benefits Of Laser Dentistry

Laser technology is something that has been long used in other areas of medicine. Around the early 1990’s is when the FDA approved the use of laser technology on various gum treatments and the use of teeth followed thereafter. There are plenty of benefits of this type of technology for use in dentistry. Below, we will be going over some of the main benefits of it.

Benefits Of Laser Dentistry:

1. Less Painful.

One of the biggest benefits of this type of dentistry is the fact that it is much less painful. Because they are less invasive, you are not going to have to worry about dealing with pain or discomfort. Another reason why a lot of patients opt for this type of treatment is that they do not require the use of dental drills like other types of dental procedures that would typically require such tools to be used. This ultimately lessens the amount of pressure that the patients have to feel throughout which can minimize the need for anesthesia.

2. Reduced Swelling.

Another benefit that comes with this type of dentistry is reduced swelling. Because laser utilizes highly concentrated beams of light instead of other kinds of more invasive tools, you are not going to have to worry about excess bleeding or swelling.

3. Precision.

Another good thing about this type of dentistry is the ability to be much more precise. Because the laser is capable of hitting an exact spot unlike other tools, it can be used to reduce the chances that the procedure affects the other areas. This makes it so that you don’t have to worry about stitching up areas that were negatively affected by the procedure and the patient is able to retain the natural composition of their gums and teeth without having to alter it due to additional problems caused by the procedure itself.

4. Reduces Chance Of Infection.

Another benefit that you are going to get with this type of procedure is the ability to lessen the chance of having to deal with an infection. You will be able to deal with a lessened chance because the laser beams can help to sterilize the area itself. Thus, there are lesser chances for having to deal with various complications that can lead to infections or widespread bacteria throughout treatment.

5. Faster Recovery Times.

Another benefit that comes with this type of procedure is the ability to reduce the time needed to recover from the procedures. Because a laser beam is capable of hitting the exact spot and being much more precise overall, you are not going to have to deal with having to deal with potential infections or any problems that would normally result from using other types of tools. This will allow you to recover much faster from your procedure.

6. More Efficient.

Because the treatment itself is going to be much more accurate and because less manual work is needed to be done when you utilize it, it is going to be a much more effective treatment that can be finished in a much shorter timespan than it would take for other treatments to finish. It can help do all kinds of things such as reshape teeth, reshape gums, treat cavities, and more. It is one of the most efficient ways to deal with dental problems which makes it a good option for anyone that is looking to improve their dental health. It certainly has its advantages over other forms of dental procedures that you might be looking to use instead.

Is It Safe?

A lot of people likely wonder whether or not laser procedures are safe. These procedures have been generally regarded as safe as long as it is being administered by someone that knows what they are doing.

Overall, there are a lot of benefits of getting laser treatments instead of traditional treatments. Not only does it not require the use of less accurate and more invasive tools and methods, but it can speed up the overall recovery time because of it. This alone makes it worthwhile to consider if you are looking for a treatment for a specific oral problem. It is a good option for just about anyone as long as you find a dentist capable of administrating it properly.

Session 2 – Understanding Digital Dentistry

Digital dentistry is being heralded by many as likely to be the future of dentistry. It is something that has become increasingly commonplace in the last decade, in particular since 2010. Digital dentistry includes a range of different dental technologies, so it’s not as simple as asking for a clear “what is digital dentistry” definition – it is something that you would need to explore in depth – covering digital radiography, cone beam technology, and dental CAD/CAM.

Dentistry today is much more in-depth and much more technical than it was even just a few decades ago. This can only be a good thing for our patients because it means that we can identify issues more quickly, and we can give informed opinions and analyses without having to subject patients to more x-rays than necessary. We can take more accurate models of our patient’s teeth, and produce better implants. We can fit implants that will last longer, and we can detect infections, offer better advice, and even provide better pain relief. But, are we truly as digital as we would like?

There are many dentists who feel that this is not the case – here non-medical fields, and even some medical ones such as medicine and biomedical engineering, have come a long way, dentistry is lagging behind. We’re stuck in what could be called a chasm, where we’re still behind the early adopters, and it is taking time for people to truly accept the potential of digital dentistry.

What Could Digital Dentistry be Doing?

At its broadest definition, digital dentistry includes everything that is being done with computer controlled components – so that’s the modeling of implants, and even things that are perhaps now considered mundane, such as delivering nitrous oxide through computer-controlled devices.

There are so many areas where we are indeed providing digital dentistry, such as:

  • CAD.CAM imaging
  • Design and fabrication of implants
  • Digital radiography
  • Photography
  • Patient record management
  • CAries diagnosis
  • TMJ analysis
  • Shade matching

Digital technologies have made many areas of dentistry simpler, more efficient, safer, and generally better and less stressful both for the dentist and the patient.

Adoption has been slow, however, and this is not unusual for the world of dentistry. It took almost two years for belt-driven handpieces to be replaced by air rotor handpieces in the average dental surgery, and it took almost five years for PFM crowns to become commonplace. Implants were not accepted for almost two decades. All of those things are now widely used, and accepted as being worthwhile, but what is it that makes some technologies that are ‘disruptive’ be accepted rapidly, while others sit unwanted, with the stance being that they’re too expensive, too risky, or just not necessary?

One issue is that in terms of growth and investment, dentistry isn’t that glamorous. Revenue potential for anything except for cosmetic dentistry is hardly appealing, and the offers for improvements in terms of efficiency just aren’t that seductive. Digital dentistry is a field that offers small, incremental improvements – look at diode lasers – they have been around for more than ten years, but until they came down in price thanks to more competition, they were not popular. Now, they offer low-cost surgery devices, because they are so common.

Things like intraoral imaging have been available for a long time, but the price is still quite high, and this has been holding off the adoption of the technology. For an item or practice to make it into use by the average dentist, it needs to be efficient, both in terms of cost and time use, and it needs to be better than the existing methods. It also needs to be predictable and reliable. Digital practices won’t get there unless they are used – it takes testing for devices to become reliable, and it takes the demand for supply to increase enough that costs come down. When all of these factors are met, a technology will make it into the mainstream – but given the up-front cost, the training demands, and the service demands of technology, it’s easy to understand why older dentists are reluctant to change a workflow that already works quite well for them.

Session 1 – 5 Benefits of Using Intraoral Cameras

Many of us have enjoyed the advancement in technologies that have occurred in recent years. In fact, we may use that technology on a daily basis to stay in touch with our friends and family and to get all of the information we could possibly need on any possible subject. Technology has touched our lives in many ways, and this also includes our visit to the dentist office. In fact, one of the pieces of digital technology that is used by some dentists today are the intraoral cameras and they provide many benefits.

An intraoral camera is a tool that is used by dental professionals to take images of all parts of the mouth, including some areas that may be otherwise difficult to reach. They are essentially very small digital cameras and they fit inside the mouth easily so that the images can be captured. It has really provided benefits to many people because of their use, due to the fact that it finds issues that may be hiding under the surface.

The intraoral camera is slightly larger than a pen but it looks very similar to a writing implement. It is connected to a computer at the dentist office and as it is inserted into the mouth and moved about, it can take pictures that are sent to the computer and shown on the screen. These images can be seen in real time and the patient can see them to their benefit as well as the dentist. In addition, the dentist can take any frozen image from inside of the mouth and zoom in to see the area in more detail. Along with that benefit, here are some other benefits of using these cameras.

1. Treatment Accuracy – When an intraoral camera is used, any issues that are identified can be treated properly and more specifically than with a typical exam. It also allows the dentist to advise the patient as to the various options that may be available for treatment.

2. Early Diagnosis – One of the issues that are associated with our dental health is the possibility that many problems could go undetected for months or perhaps even years. These could even be as serious as exposure of the pulp in certain areas and tooth fractures. These tiny digital cameras are able to get into areas that were inaccessible through a standard dental exam. It allows the dentist to see any of the problems and to provide an early diagnosis. As a result, the possibilities for treating the problem successfully are much greater.

3. Documentation – This is something that can benefit both the dentist and the patient. In the past, it was necessary for the dentist to take detailed notes and perhaps draw pictures of what he was seeing in the area. Although it worked to a certain extent, it is nothing compared to the ability to document problems with an intraoral camera. The pictures that are taken by the digital camera can be saved on a computer and with each subsequent visit, the problem can be tracked and any additional associated problems can be identified much more easily.

4. It Puts the Patient at Ease – There is no denying that many people are nervous when it comes to going to the dentist and many avoid the visit for as long as possible. Using technology, such as the digital oral cameras, can help to improve the relationship between the dentist and the patient. In essence, it helps to put the patient at ease because they recognize that the issues are being identified early. In addition, they can even see what is taking place on the screen in front of them in real time.

5. Insurance – There are always issues that surround insurance coverage and many insurance companies are now insisting on advanced technology when it comes to oral health and dental care. The high-resolution images that are provided by the intraoral camera can be used to provide proof that the problems did exist and needed to be corrected.

There is no doubt that these tiny digital cameras have really made inroads into our lives. We use digital cameras on our cell phone and sometimes, even in our photographic hobbies. It was only a matter of time before they began to be used in a dental setting, and they have really enhanced our lives by doing so.