As elsewhere in medicine, the only constant seems to be change. New guidelines to prevent infection from pandemic flu for example, require a number of invasive dental instruments to be used only once before disposal – adding to the cost of treating patients. Some instruments may be used more than once however, but between each patient they are scrubbed, immersed in a boiling water bath and then sterilized in super-heated steam.
New technologies are continually being introduced to improve patient care and although all are tested rigorously before they are allowed to be used, some are better than others!
At the practice, we study a number of weekly and monthly trade magazines, attend training courses and two national dental exhibitions each year, looking closely at new innovations and identifying best practice.
In 2006 we purchased two new items of equipment, both laser based. One was a
DIAGNOdent machine which uses a laser to detect dental decay, sometimes even when it is under the surface of the tooth. The machine not only acts as important corroboration for our x-rays, but gives 'early warning' of dental decay developing and helps informs us as to whether invasive treatment is actually necessary, or whether other action may suffice.
We also bought a Photo Activated Disinfection machine, which is another laser used for destroying bacteria, mainly in deep fillings, but also during root treatments. It can also be useful for dealing with areas of slight decay on the surface of teeth, and if successful, invasive treatment can be avoided. What we have found with this machine is that it kills bacteria more reliably that traditional methods, reducing the chances of secondary infections.