You light up my life

When I first came across the ViziLite from Zila, I assumed it was a new entry into the LED curing arena. What I found was an important product — one that could save a life.

Paul Feuerstein, DMD

When I first came across the ViziLite from Zila, I assumed it was a new entry into the LED curing arena. What I found was an important product — one that could save a life. Just as we have Kavo's DIAGNOdent for detecting early caries, the ViziLite system can identify precancerous lesions in the mouth. We all know that patients tend to see us more frequently than their physicians for routine exams. Although our MD brethren are well-versed in pathology, they may not see the more subtle changes that we do in the oral cavity.

Most soft-tissue lesions are less than remarkable. In some cases, the patient describes a trauma like the famous pizza burn. With more mysterious etiology lesions, we may guess and take a tissue swipe or even a bioposy. However, in many situations, we tend to "watch and wait." Unfortunately, many patients forget to return, especially if they had never noticed it before and there were no symptoms. Using the ViziLite kit, the patient rinses with a solution (primarily acetic acid). Then, in a dimly lit room, a little glow stick is activated and placed in a holder/retractor. Suspicious areas look very white if they are precancerous. According to Dr. Doug Burkett, CEO of Zila, as a cell becomes more dysplastic, the nucleus becomes larger compared to the rest of the cell. The enlarged nucleus reflects light and appears white. Normal epithelium absorbs ViziLite and appears dark, while abnormal epithelium reflects ViziLite and appears white.

The entire process takes seconds, and the single use kit costs under $25. Your practice philosophy will determine whether you pass this cost on to the patient, make it a minor profit center, or just incorporate it as part of a thorough exam fee. Zila includes a consent/refusal form (and a very nice clipboard) that the practitioner can use. There is a lot of information, including sample forms and a descriptive slide show, at www.Zila.com.

Spies like us

Also of importance to practitioners is the alarming fact that our computers are becoming infected with spyware programs that install themselves invisibly in our computers. These programs report your Web usage to advertisers, resulting in a slew of "pop-up" ads on your computer screen. Some are totally invisible; they not only execute programs, but also update themselves while your computer is connected to the Internet. Some, like Gator, are quite brash, appearing as cute little messages on your screen. Xupiter and Downloadware (dw.exe) are two more sealthy interlopers that will take over your Web browser. Programs such as "SpyBot Search and Destroy" and "Ad-Aware" can find these on your computer, help remove them, and protect you from future attacks.

Many of these spyware programs come with file sharing systems such as KaZaa or Grokster. Others sneak in when you click on various Web sites or even open unsolicited email attachments. Note that these are not viruses, and virus programs cannot detect them. They are not destructive to your equipment like viruses, but the annoyance and dissemination of your personal information is equally problematic. Just as the numbers and names of viruses multiply, so do these programs. The writers are clever and try to outwit the antispyware programs. I suggest you go to your favorite search engine or online version of a computer magazine and search for "spyware," "spyware removal," or just name one of the offending products. Many of the programs found in these searches will run free scans on your computers and give instructions for removal. Another ounce of prevention would be to stay away from free Internet sharing programs. There also are programs and hardware solutions called firewalls that are helpful and merit review.

With computers multiplying throughout the office and our homes, we need to continue to not take their "health" for granted. Be the first line of defense in keeping your patients — and your computers — healthy.

Dr. Paul Feuerstein installed one of dentistry's first computers when he placed a system in his office in 1978, and he has been fascinated by technology ever since. For more than 20 years, he has taught courses on technology throughout the country. He is a mainstay at technology sessions in New England, including annual appearances at the Yankee.Dental Congress, and has been a part of the ADA's Technology Day since its inception. A general practitioner in North Billerica, Mass., since 1973, Dr. Feuerstein maintains a Web site (www.computersinden tistry.com) and can be reached by email at drpaul@computersindentistry.com.

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