I'm looking through you

May 19, 2014
This has been an amazing year so far with new, innovative product introductions.

By Paul Feuerstein, DMD

This has been an amazing year so far with new, innovative product introductions. Restorative products, cements, impression systems -- both traditional and digital -- are the bread-and-butter products that have undergone change. In the technology arena, some clever old concepts have gone high-tech.

Most of us have an iPod or iPad (or other tablet) somewhere in our house or office. Some new products are now incorporating these in dental equipment.

BienAir handpieces have taken the lead here. Last year, this column looked at the iChiroPro, which is an iPad-controlled implant handpiece with many features. In addition to the controls, the dentist can program in common repeated settings, as well as watching videos about procedures or handpiece maintenance.

This year, the company took the standard electric handpiece and put a small iPod as a control with a large array of features for standard restorative and endo. This controller is called iOptima. It can store the doctor's preferences for procedures, and in this world of mechanized endodontics, the dentist's preferred files. If there is a change or new products are released, it can be easily altered. The details of the features can be found at www.bienair.com.

For years, we have used transillumination to detect fractures and look "inside" of teeth to see accessory canals, fractures, and sometimes decay. A staple in this realm has been the Microlux Transilluminator from AdDent.com. A challenge for the practitioner is showing this to the patient. Using mirrors to see a fracture in an upper posterior tooth is not simple. Photographing this with an intraoral or extraoral camera is difficult due to lighting.

DEXIS has taken this idea and put it on high-tech steroids. The new DEXIS CariVu not only has a high-intensity light to see inside of the teeth, it also incorporates a small camera. This allows the tooth to be projected on the computer screen and saved for reference. There are many situations when a radiograph is inconclusive. With this unit, the decay physically shows up on the screen. Finally, for those patients who refuse to have X-rays taken, CariVu is an alternative diagnostic method with which they can be comfortable. More information is at http://www.dexis.com/carivu.

There has been an inordinate amount of time spent discussing intraoral impression scanners. This year one has added a new twist. 3Shape TRIOS is not only in full color, but it is so accurate you can get a shade from the scan. The scanner now also takes 2-D images in HD simultaneously with the scan. Not only can this be used for patient presentation; it also allows accurate visualization for the practitioner of the preparation design, as well as the margins.

Of course, if you just want to take a digital shade, Vident's Easyshade is a more-convenient and less-expensive option. Its latest version, Advance 4.0, has added more features to the useful device. Using an "average" of up to 30 shades on a tooth, the base shade shown is more accurate than ever. Details are in the Shade Management area of www.vident.com.

If you still take shades the "old-fashioned way," Dennis Braunston of Dental Learning Centers has created a simple system that allows you to get an accurate shade from a digital photo. ShadeWave uses a special shade tab that is placed in the photo with the patient's teeth. The tab is on a unique "holder" to ensure its proper position in the photo.

The accompanying software reads the tab (which has stripes of black, white, and gray) along with the patient's tooth color and "figures out" the teeth shades. The system use a number of different shade guides for the operator to choose from. This is a makeover of ClearMatch, which is popular with dental labs. More information is available at www.dlcenters.com.

This is just a small sampling of products that are true improvements on existing ideas, not just a label of "new and improved." I will continue running up and down the aisles to keep you up to date.

Paul Feuerstein, DMD, installed one of dentistry's first computers in 1978, teaching and writing about technology since then while practicing general dentistry in North Billerica, Mass. He maintains a website (www.computersindentistry.com), Facebook page (Paul-Feuerstein-DMD-Dental-Technology), is on Twitter (@drpaulf), and can be reached via email at [email protected].

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