Austin Smile Center
Back in 1999, Austin Smile Center was one of the first dental offices in Austin with a computerized xray system. This is a cool setup because it drastically cuts down on the amount of radiation that a patient receives from their routine xray series. Just like your digital camera can take photos in low light conditions, our xray sensors can take xrays in low "x-ray" conditions. We turn the xray machine pretty much as low as it can go, and we allow the computer to analyze the signal and to create a beautiful looking xray. We can get a whole set of 18 xrays with less radiation than two of the old style xrays.
My next favorite piece of equipment is my Diagnodent laser cavity detector by KAVO. This machine shines a mild laser into the tooth, and it measures how much of that energy is reflected back out of the tooth. A tooth with hidden decay is going to absorb more laser energy than a white, healthy tooth.
I have seen new patients that come from other dental offices that haven't had a cavity in years, and then I put the laser on their tooth and find one or two teeth with moderate or even heavy decay. The Diagnodent is a way to detect cavities that cannot be detected in the usual conventional ways. Xrays work great for detecting cavities in between teeth, but xrays have a hard time focusing on a small cavity in the pits or grooves of our molars. I firmly believe that my Diagnodent has probably saved dozens of patients from needing root canal therapy on one or more of their teeth!
My next favorite "toy" is my intraoral camera. This is a small camera that can take photos of the teeth up close. With this camera, I can see teeth 20X their actual size. I can also use the light in the camera to shine through the enamel to look for cracks that can't normally be seen using overhead operatory lights. The photos I take can be sent to your insurance company so that the "adjusters" can see what I'm seeing. This allows us to get the benefits you need to fix your tooth.
Sometimes I'll use my intraoral camera to take a photo essay of all the molars so I can compare them to what I see years later. This allows me to document wear and tear that might otherwise go unnoticed. I can also photograph suspicious bumps in the mouth to see if there's been any change in size or color at later appointments. This might save you a trip to the oral surgeon for a soft tissue biopsy.
And our latest acquisition, a 3D xray machine!
Conebeam (3D) xray technology lets us view the structures in your mouth in three dimensions, not just two. This lets us know if the bone is thick enough to support a dental implant, or if that tooth is cracked and non-restorable. We can even take "cavity check" xrays for those patients that have a bad gag reflex!
Ain't technology grand?