Dental Radiology Confessions of a DVM

Veterinary dentistry x-ray bisecting angle finder.

Why I Love Dentistry

Dentals are one of the most rewarding services I perform. Wellness Care, illness, injury are all satisfying outcomes benefiting our patients and improving their quality of life. Nothing, however, immediately gratifies like dentistry. From regular annual cleanings to patients where the smell hits you upon first entering the exam room, dentals always give me a win win experience. The short and long term benefits for the patients, the clients and the practice make dentistry one of the most rewarding services we offer.

What I Don’t Like About Dentistry

Radiology! After many many CE’s on dentistry and traveling for advanced training with industry leaders, the value of x-rays is unquestionable. Each class where x-rays were included in the training, it seemed so easy to follow along and capture great images. Back in my hospital the magic quickly dissipated. Four, five, six shots to capture one useful image. Switching to digital reduced the time between shots but we were still taking far too many x-rays just to get the full mouth covered.

The Confession

The confession is, I found myself half heartedly recommending radiographs, secretly hoping they wouldn’t say yes. My convictions as a doctor require me to recommend radiographs for all my dental patients. My ethics require me to take as many shots as needed to get useful images. And finally, every second counts with anesthesia! I was questioning the value of the few good radiographs versus the risk of extending anesthesia and radiation caused by all the useless exposures.

Early on we did not recommend canine radiographs unless something was discovered while probing. Years ago we moved to requiring them for felines, and recommending them for all canines. As soon as we started developing the new bisector tool, my technique improved dramatically. That elusive upper fourth premolar root image, the Bigfoot that couldn’t be photographed, was now a piece of cake! The switch to radiographs being required with all dentals was easy. The concern for increasing my COHAT’s $80 was unfounded. The number of under the gumline findings is staggering. All those impressive abnormalities shown during CE’s were not just a collection of rare findings over years. In our hospital alone, we documented enough hidden conditions in 2 weeks to prepare slides for a CE presentation. I honestly feel bad about all those past patients that I did not radiograph.

My Solution – Invent The Tool You Need

Well, this wasn’t exactly my solution. My husband is an Aerospace Engineer and product designer. When we decided to open our own practice, it was a team decision. Eight years later he’s developed numerous innovative products that I had never seen or even thought of in all my years of veterinary medicine.

Recently he decided to address the routine frustration on my part that manifested whenever we needed dental x-rays. I showed him some YouTube videos with the sticks and explained the bisecting angle technique. Apparently it’s a common technique for translating true length in old engineering blueprints. Immediately he created the first prototype for me to try out. From the early big changes to the numerous little improvements at the end, he incorporated all of my suggestions. I tried every different iteration, all prototyped with his 3D printer. The final result is a bisecting angle finder that snaps onto the digital sensor. It is truly amazing! Together my husband and I are sharing the products that improve the standard of care and quality of medicine in our practice.

Follow this link for information on this new dental tool.

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