Q: Why do you use a microscope?
A: Our two favorite uses for the microscope are: 1. Diagnosing super difficult-to-see problems like hair-line fractures, and 2. Refinement (smoothing and polishing) of teeth right before we take our digital impressions for restorations or before finishing up.
A patient can go through quite a number of dentist appointments and appointments with specialists trying to figure out a tooth problem that is as clear as a mountain when viewed at 20X. Put it this way - our surgical loupes (funny looking glasses with magnification lenses sticking out) are usually 3.5X and we think that’s amazing to work under. Well, at 5 - 20X with a fiber optic light flooding the area, the view actually is amazing.
Click here if you want to see a comparison.
As for refinement of teeth for crowns and such, the biggest challenge facing the quality of our work is some silly little speck or spur of tooth structure getting in the way of things fitting perfectly. Computers are all about good data being entered, right? Well, it’s the same here. If we give CEREC or our lab technician ultra clean data/images/models free of voids and weird shapes, the results are simply better.
Q: OK, you are a little strange, Doc, what else is your microscope used for?
A: The number one use of a microscope in dentistry is used for performing root canals. They help us see every little thing that can be addressed for a successful outcome. Sound familiar?
Here are a few more things microscopes can be used for:
- Improving lighting,
- Locating hidden canals that have been obstructed by calcifications and reduced in size,
- Removing foreign or unwanted materials,
- Assisting in cavity preparation to avoid unnecessary destruction of mineralized tissue,
- Locating cracks and fractures that are neither visible to the naked eye nor palpable with an explorer,
- Allowing refinement in tooth and margin preparation,
- Providing closer inspection of restorations and tissues,
- Aiding in caries detection and removal,
- Permitting precise control of laser surgery,
- Minimizing size surgical sites, reducing discomfort and healing time,
- Helping with inspection of fit of restoration,
- Facilitating finishing and polishing,
- Assisting in gingival contouring or reshaping around teeth and implants,
- Enhancing evaluation after cementation,
- Reducing operator fatigue and eyestrain during procedures, and
- Providing a wonderful platform for photographic documentation.
Q: you use the microscope throughout every procedure?
A: No, working at 20X would require super-human motionless body positioning. Our 3.5X surgical glasses (loupes) allow us to move around the patient to get the best angle for the task at hand. However, we almost always use the microscope at some point during our dental procedures at 5-20X magnification, especially for diagnosing, minimizing removal of healthy tooth structure and refinement.
Q: Do many dentists use a dental microscope?
A: Surprisingly, very few. I encourage a Google search on this question and you will find passionate users with the goal of clinical excellence as a their common thread.