Whether it is root canals or a nose job, they call medicine a practice for a reason. Unfortunately, mistakes can be made and sometimes it is because the available technology simply is not good enough to give dentists the data necessary to best treat patients.
In the field of endodontics, dental imaging, such as traditional X-rays, has long been depended upon to give dentists the information they need to perform a successful root canal. But traditional X-rays have limitations that digital technology doesn’t, and this advancement is changing the face of root canals.
Currently root canal errors continue to happen at an alarming rate — about 15 percent of these procedures fail, most of them performed by general dentists. Endodontists are then frequently called upon to fix these botched procedures. The latest technology in dental imaging promises to reduce root canal errors, ultimately resulting in less time, discomfort and cost for the patient.
Tools of the Trade
According to orthodontic consultant Dr. How Kim Chuan, if dentists utilize the latest technology, they can instantly see an entire tooth/jaw set in 3-D. They have the option to zoom in, and the overall image clarity is simply better. He said, “I will be able to rotate the image 360 degrees and do slices of the images, and see what I want to see and measure bone quality or density all from just one exposure.” With traditional imaging, it can be easy to miss some parts, but using state-of-the art technology helps pinpoint even the smallest of issues. In some patients, such detailed data is necessary due to the size of the potential implant. The latest imaging offers suggestions for best placement.
If a dentist suspects something is amiss with a traditional X-ray, a retake is necessary. Although patients experience much less radiation exposure today with traditional X-rays, it still is not a procedure you want to sign up for over and over again.
Speeding Things Up
“The implant surgery will take only 10 minutes compared with a one-and-a-half-hour of surgery because we are so prepared with details from the imaging,” explains how. The great news for U.S. patients is that many endodontists offer this technology in their office — but it is still a crapshoot in other countries and/or with general dentists who do not need the technology as often as specialists and therefore cannot justify the expense of investing in it.
Unfortunately, many times a dentist is limited by his or her tools. Patients should check with their dentist to see what imaging technology is available in that particular office. For a faster and more comfortable root canals or other dental procedures done with advanced imaging techniques, visit the specialists at Rocky Mountain Endodontics of Salt Lake City.