April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, an opportunity for dental practices like Falmouth Dental Arts to raise awareness about the importance of oral cancer detection and prevention. When treated early, oral cancer has an estimated 80-90% survival rate. As your dental care partners, we believe strongly that we are an essential part of your healthcare team. As such, we’ve had a long-standing commitment to screening our patients for early signs of oral cancer. We are excited to announce that we now have a new state-of-the-art diagnostic tool to assist us in the oral cancer screening process – a CBCT 3D x-ray machine. 3D imaging allows us to better diagnose a range of dental issues, including oral cancer. Learn more from Dr. Brunacini, as he explains some of the advantages of CBCT 3D x-rays.
1) Why has FDA upgraded to 3D x-rays?
Dr. Brunacini: 3D x-ray or CBCT (cone beam computed tomography) technology allows us to better visualize all of the structures within the head, neck, and mouth so that we can better assess our patients’ oral health.
2) How are 3-D x-rays different from the traditional digital 2D x-rays?
Dr. Brunacini: For years, dentistry has been taking and reviewing x-rays in 2-D, which can sometimes make it difficult to determine a proper diagnosis. Without the 3rd dimension, it can be difficult to see an area of concern, such as a gum or tooth infection. Being able to take 3D images allows us to more thoroughly and completely diagnose our patients prior to performing any dental treatment, especially oral surgery.
3) Will 3D x-rays replace traditional 2D x-rays?
Dr. Brunacini: 3D imaging won’t replace our typical bitewing x-rays, which are used to locate areas of decay. Rather, 3D x-rays can be used as an additional tool when trying to diagnose an area of concern or when planning for dental implants. It can also be helpful for patients with a strong gag response, as 3D x-rays allow us to get the imaging we need without placing anything into their mouth, making the process much easier and more comfortable for them.
4) How can 3D x-rays be helpful in the early detection of oral cancer?
Dr. Brunacini: CBCT technology can be used as an additional screening tool in diagnosing oral cancer. It doesn’t eliminate the need for our other screening methods, such as a visual or physical exam or VELscope screening. VELscope is a non-invasive device that emits a safe blue light to detect abnormal cell growth that could be cancerous or precancerous. If we identify any areas that look suspicious through these methods, 3D imaging can be helpful in determining subsequent steps for the ideal treatment of a lesion. As we see many of our patients twice a year, we now have a wider range of diagnostic tools available to us to screen for oral cancer during routine hygiene appointments, including CBCT x-rays.
Thank you, Dr. Brunacini!
If you have any additional questions about the oral cancer screening process, CBCT 3D x-rays, or would like to schedule an appointment, give us a call at 207.781.5900. We’re here to help!
As with any industry, technology in the dental field advances quickly. These advancements provide numerous benefits for both doctors and patients. One piece of technology that has changed over the years is the x-ray. Invented in 1895, x-rays are used to see the internal structure of an object, or in our case, the inside of your teeth, gums, and jaw. For years, we used the traditional analog x-ray machines. However, we recently made the switch to digital x-ray machines.
Digital x-rays offer many benefits and fewer concerns. The biggest differences between this new technology and the old include:
- Less Radiation: We understand your concerns when it comes to x-rays… They get a bad reputation for their radiation levels and health concerns. While radiation is inevitable due to the technology used in x-rays, digital x-rays have far lower levels compared to the traditional analog x-rays. On average, it’s 70% lower! “The main advantage digital x-rays have over analog x-rays is their reduced radiation exposure to the patient and dentist while still providing amazing detail of the teeth and bone for accurate diagnoses,” Dr. Brunacini shared. “Although we take all the necessary precautions for protection, lower radiation levels are safer for everyone.”
- Comfort: Remember those bitewings you had to bite down on to take an x-ray of your back teeth? We know—it was painful! Digital x-rays just require the use of a sensor placed inside your mouth that is moved after each image is taken.
- Environmentally Friendly: With the use of the sensor, digital x-rays remove the need for multiple pieces of film that just end up in the trash. Additionally, it alleviates the need for chemicals to develop the images, meaning less impact on the environment.
- Ease of Use: Traditional x-rays required lengthy processing time, careful interpretation, and specific storage. Using a digital x-ray, images are stored directly onto a local drive and can be accessed immediately following the capture of the picture.
- Quality: The digital x-ray saves time and helps us make a more accurate diagnosis. As Dr. Brunacini states, “Digital x-rays allow us to examine them on a computer screen, which means they can be viewed on a large screen and with varying contrast for easier visibility.” Since the images are digital, we can resize them without losing the important details that used to get lost with an analog x-ray. For patients, these images are much easier to view and understand.
We recommend having x-rays taken once a year at your hygiene appointment. Comparing your teeth from year to year can help us catch any issues before they get too serious. When were your last x-rays taken? Give us a ring at (207) 781-5900 to check in and discuss adding digital x-rays to your next appointment.
We can tell a lot just by taking a look around your mouth while you are sitting in our chair. But sometimes, we need to take a closer look at your teeth to get to the root of a problem you may be experiencing. X-rays are most commonly used to help us to find issues that can’t be seen with a visual exam. While these images do provide valuable information, they don’t show everything that’s going on in your mouth. Plus, they aren’t always the easiest images to help explain what might be causing an issue. That’s why you might see Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos using an intraoral camera.
What is an Intraoral Camera?
An intraoral cameral is a tiny digital camera that takes pictures of hard-to-reach areas in your mouth. Our intraoral cameras look similar to a pen and are equipped with a tiny lens on the end. During an examination, the camera is moved throughout the inside of the mouth, allowing us to see detailed images of the surfaces of your teeth, gum conditions, and other tiny details about tissues, cavities, etc. The camera also captures clear video and images of corroded or tarnished fillings, hairline fractures, bleeding gums, plaque, and other problems. To our patients’ delight, the camera is painless and can be used while you are sitting comfortably in the dental chair.
How do Intraoral Cameras work?
The first intraoral cameras were introduced back in the late 1980s and required a lot of bulky technology. Images were saved to a floppy disc and videos were saved to film and had to be viewed in a VHS player. Over the years, the design changed drastically allowing for improved function with significantly smaller equipment. Today’s intraoral cameras are connected directly to a computer and the images it can immediately be viewed by both the dentist and the patient in real time. These images can then be examined in-depth for a better diagnosis and stored for future reference.
Why do we use Intraoral Cameras?
Intraoral cameras offer numerous benefits to the patient. Dr. Karagiorgos explains it like this: “Showing our patients photographs of what we are looking at in their mouths is a great way to communicate ideas about conditions or possible treatments. Photography becomes a great tool in our toolbox to engage patients so that they feel more included in the decision-making process. It lets the patient see with their own eyes and helps make what might sound complicated much easier to understand.”
With the video and images captured by the camera, we are able to give you a better look at a particular diagnosis and to help you understand a treatment plan more completely. Instead of just explaining to you what might be happening in your mouth, we are able to show you exactly what is going on. In many cases, an issue might not present with tangible symptoms. For example, you might not have any pain in a back molar, but the intraoral camera might discover a fractured tooth. The cameras are also useful in the tooth restoration process, allowing you to see the before and after pictures of your treatment.
No matter the issue, the intraoral camera helps you make treatment decisions with confidence. Want to learn more? Let us show you what the camera looks like at your next visit! Call us at (207) 781-5900 to schedule your appointment today.
We often associate X-rays with broken bones, and because of this we think of them as being part of diagnostic rather than preventative medicine. In dentistry, however, it’s different. Dental X-rays play an invaluable role in detecting problems before they become major and are an important tool that we use to judge the progress of ailments.
You’re familiar with the lead vest and being asked to bite down on various shaped pieces of plastic. If you’ve ever wondered what these methods are, here is a rundown of each type of dental X-ray and what each accomplishes:
- Gives us a view of in between the back teeth – molars and bicuspids
- Assess the health of bone surrounding the teeth
- Used to see cavities
- Gives a detailed picture of an entire tooth from root to crown and the surrounding bone
- Used to check for infection (abscess)
- Used frequently in children to view tooth development and placement
- Bird’s eye view showing all of the lower or upper teeth and jaw
- Taken from outside the mouth, they show the teeth, jawbones, and skull
- One image that shows the entire mouth
- This is accomplished by a special machine that moves in a full rotation around your head
- A ‘landscape’ image which shows more anatomical structures than other X-ray techniques
- An image of the entire side of the head
- Used frequently by orthodontists to assess the position of teeth relative to the skull
CBCT (Cone Beam)
- 3-D image that can be used to evaluate hard and soft tissue prior to treatment
Various X-ray techniques are important for catching many dental ailments before they get worse, such as cavities or gum disease. We recommend having bite-wing x-rays once a year for general maintenance. If more complicated treatment is needed, then different x-rays may be needed. If it’s time for you to have new X-rays, give us a call at 207-781-5900 to make an appointment.
You’ve probably heard about 3D printing, but did you know that this technology is applicable to dentistry? Though it seems to have emerged straight from the pages of your favorite cyberpunk novel, it seems that digitally created implants may be in the cards for future dentists and healthcare professionals.
3D printing has also come to be known as additive manufacturing, which means that digital 3D models are turned into solid objects by building up layers of a certain material (matching the parameters of the digital model) to create a real life object!
Though the technology was first introduced as the natural next step after 2D printing on paper, it has quickly evolved into a game-changing manufacturing technology. So far industries including but not limited to aerospace, defense, and art and design have adopted the technology for a variety of uses. Though it’s not definite when or to what degree 3D printing might be adopted by the dental industry, there is great potential for patients’ dental needs to be fulfilled quickly and locally using this technology.
Most dentists would agree: every person’s mouth is unique. This is the main reason why 3D printing could be massively successful in dentistry. Crowns, bridges, retainers, splints, dentures, and surgical guides and instruments, all require some level of custom work to match each patient’s mouth.
“I love the idea of 3D printing as there are many ways for it to be used in dentistry,” Dr. Brian Brunacini commented. “Whether it involves a metal framework for a partial denture or making a crown, the technology can only help. As dentistry goes digital, the impressions we take are so accurate that having a perfect fit is easily accomplished, which reduces costs and the amount of time required for each fitting.”
Digital x-rays as well as scans and models have already begun to “digitalize” dentistry work systems. These systems are becoming increasingly commonplace. In fact, you may have already encountered 3D printing in dentistry, though you might not realize it: Invisalign utilizes 3D modeling and printing technology in the creation of their products.
Despite initial barriers as 3D printing tried to gain a foothold in the industry, it seems that further technological advances are removing issues like high cost, software unreliability, and material limitations. With the introduction of desktop 3D printers, the cost of professional 3D printers has dropped substantially. Desktop and large-scale printers alike have been able to perform accurately in a clinical setting. In particular, the usability and relative low cost of desktop models have made the technology accessible for dental firms of every size.
As more 3D printers, software, and materials continue to be released, the industry continues to change. 3D printing is already possible with pure metals, metal alloys, thermoplastics and thermoplastic composites, ceramics, and edible food materials. Materials can also be formulated to take on different textures. As one example, gum tissue can be replicated with materials that have a rubbery texture. The most important factor in assessing materials is the quality of the final printed product.
Each year, more and more materials are released in accordance with FDA regulation. Soon, companies will release biocompatible materials that will be compatible with certain printers models. This development will further expand the potential of the technology, and would result in printers being able to create custom dental implants, like crowns or bridges, right there in the office.
Dr. Brunacini offered his perspective on the future of this technology. “There are still a lot of hurdles ahead for 3D printing in dentistry,” he stated. “Something to keep in mind along the way is that the art of dentistry is very important to as well, and that art could be lost with machines fabricating a crown.”
Whatever is in store for 3D printing and dentistry, you can rest assured that you’re able to rely on the care and craftsmanship of your trusted team at Falmouth Dental Arts. Interested in dental technology and how it has evolved over the years? Let’s talk more at your next appointment!
We’re pretty approachable here at Falmouth Dental Arts, and yet, we know and appreciate that a trip to the dentist may not be exactly what some of you have in mind as ‘fun.’ This is certainly the case when and if a root canal comes into the picture, but the future is looking bright in that regard: a recent breakthrough has many people thinking (and hoping) that root canals may become a thing of the past, thanks to stem cells.
Over the past year, regenerative dental fillings have generated much scientific attention. Researchers from the University of Nottingham and Harvard University’s Wyss Institute have found that fillings utilizing stem cells could change the future of root canal procedures for the better, by stimulating teeth to repair and regenerate their own damaged tissues.
What role do stem cells play in this process? Stem cells are undifferentiated (aka non-specialized) cells that are capable of transforming into different cells. Stem cells have been utilized in other regenerative therapies that have developed over the past several years. To date, most applications of stem cells in the health industry involve repair of diseased and/or injured tissues.
It’s technology that could change many people’s lives. For those who don’t know about root canals, they can be intimidating experiences for some patients because the root canal – also referred to as the pulp – and the nerve of a tooth are removed due to extensive tissue damage. Usually the damage is from a prior cavity in the region that spread beyond the enamel into the tissue below. Removal of a tooth’s pulp and nerve also dramatically weakens the tooth, and might require further dental work like crowns or caps to reinforce the tooth. Additionally, materials inserted into fillings as a result of cavities or root canals are also often toxic to cells. Regenerative fillings would hypothetically negate all these risks, and would not require invasive procedures.
Our own Dr. Brian Brunacini shared his thoughts on the potential of the technology. “In dentistry, we are always searching for ways to make the experience as non-invasive and comfortable as possible. It is exciting to see new treatment modalities coming out in dentistry. Regenerative dentistry would be a complete paradigm shift in how teeth are repaired.”
During initial tests, regenerative fillings successfully stimulated the development of dentin, the tissue that makes up the tooth below the visible white enamel. Theoretically, injecting these stem cell-powered biomaterials into a damaged tooth would prompt the cells to regenerate dentin in their natural environment, right where it’s needed the most. This could mean that in the future a damaged tooth could heal itself!
As supporters of holistic and integrative dentistry, we’re excited about this breakthrough. We’ll have to curb our enthusiasm for now: regenerative fillings are only in the initial stages of research and much must be done to develop the treatment before it’s ready for use on humans. The research is promising however: regenerative fillings received second place in the materials category of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Emerging Technologies Competition in 2016.
This development could mean a great deal to dental patients who require fillings and root canals across the globe. Are you curious about the prospect of regenerative dental fillings? Call and talk with us about them, or let’s chat at your next appointment.