Magnification has revolutionized dentistry. Magnifying an image 2–4.5x with standard loupes is clearly an asset, improving the operators visibility and thereby the ability to diagnose and provide treatment.
With magnification being the current standard of care in dentistry, why is it that the percentage of dentists using a microscope is still a minority? This article will discuss five advantages of implementing the use of a microscope in your practice.
- Improved magnification: Remember when you first started using loupes and then could never practice without them because you knew what you weren’t seeing? That same feeling holds true when you go from using loupes to a microscope; wearing your loupes isn’t the same because you now know what you are missing. Dental microscopes provide a range of magnification from 2.6-16x with the average microscope dentist operating at an 8x magnification (compared to 2.5-4.5x magnification for most loupe users). This enhanced magnification can improve accuracy of tooth preparations and margins, allow for more conservative treatment, and can be kinder and gentler to adjacent teeth/restorations as well as the supporting soft tissues. Ultimately, higher magnification provides enhanced visibility in all aspects of dentistry from diagnosing to prepping, seating and finishing restorations.
- Improves ergonomics: Ergonomics is one of the biggest reasons why dentists choose to use a scope. It forces you to sit upright in your chair with improved posture. This fact alone can add years to your career as a dentist by reducing strain on your neck and back. Essentially, with correct positioning and posture, your body will feel better at the end of the day.
- Reduced eye fatigue/strain: The technology of loupes utilizes what is called “converging vision” due to the short working distance. This can cause eye fatigue and strain. The dental microscope functions differently. The higher magnification lens and distance from the operating field allows parallel vision of the working field, thereby reducing the strain and fatigue on the eyes.
- Improved lighting: The built-in light sources on the microscopes today are halogen, xenon or LED. They allow amazing visibility and admission of light to areas in the mouth that are otherwise difficult to see, let alone access. Examples of this are common: deep interproxial decay on the mesial of 2nd molars, looking down into a post space, finishing a composite restoration. The flood of light provided by a scope is a huge benefit in providing visibility to your working field without the hassle of cables or battery packs
- Documentation, education and communication: When paired with a monitor and/or camera, the microscope becomes an excellent way to document treatment as well as communicate with patients or other dentists. It can also be a good way to educate auxiliary staff.
It must be stated that there are many challenges to implementing the use of a microscope into clinical practice: cost, staff acceptance, longer procedures initially, a steep learning curve and, most of all, inconvenience. It’s not an easy thing to blend into your normal scheduled workday. That being said, the reality is, once you start using it and you experience the benefits, it’s very hard to go back.
(Click this link to read more dentistry articles by Dr. Gregg Kinzer.)
Gregg Kinzer, D.D.S., M.S., Spear Faculty and Contributing Author