We are now seeing the use of surgical operating microscopes in many areas of medical care, particularly in neurosurgery where the difference between fractions of a millimetre can dramatically affect the outcome of the procedure. In Dentistry, one of the challenges in providing great treatment involves the difficulty in seeing the tooth surfaces clearly, particularly in the back teeth where a normal operating light provides limited illumination. The picture below shows a typical “naked eye” view that would be seen without the benefit of any magnification.
I’ve been using magnification in Dentistry at Precision Dental Care in Rotherham, for over 20 years now, beginning with wearing loupes which are like binoculars attached to a conventional pair of safety glasses. This was followed a couple of years later with the addition of a light which was attached to the front of the loupes – a bit like a pit helmet light actually! This really made a dramatic difference in terms of how well I could see what I was doing, particularly in those hard to reach areas at the back of the mouth. Because of this, my treatment quality, which was already good, took a quantum leap upwards. Also, I found that procedures were taking less time as well which was very much appreciated by my patients. The other advantage was that my working posture improved because I no longer required to bend my neck and back to see what I was doing!
I purchased my operating microscope in 2008 and the further improvement in visualisation was pretty startling – the image below shows the same view of the tooth at 8 times magnification (the microscope will extend to 24 times magnification). You can quite clearly see the extent of the tooth decay in it now!
As you can see, the increased illumination and detail make treatment much quicker and more accurate and leads to a better outcome for the most important person – the patient undergoing care. It has been described as working in HD! The image below shows the finished result after a filling repair with tooth coloured composite resin which I now routinely use to restore teeth (we are a mercury free practice). Composite resins now have superior physical properties to amalgam and have the added advantage of bonding chemically to tooth enamel (reducing the amount of tooth drilling required).
Currently, only 1% of dentists in the UK are using microscopes and in fact only 20% are using any form of magnification at all. These statistics worry me because the standard of treatment provided has been shown to improve measurably when magnification is used – not only in Dentistry but in other forms of surgical care as well. My advice to you when choosing a new dentist, always look for someone who is prepared to show that their quality of work is important – like someone who enjoys working in HD!