Coast Dental Blog
Intra-Oral Cameras: A Picture's Worth A Thousand Words
Have you ever had this happen? You're leaning back in the dental chair and the dentist says, "I see a cavity here," or "Hmm, this tooth has a little crack in it," or "Your crown needs to be repaired." You ask to see, and the dentist holds up a mirror and points to the problem spot. Unfortunately, no matter how wide you open your mouth, you can't see the area.
Now, more and more dentists are using intra-oral cameras to take digital pictures to show their patients exactly where the problem is. The cameras are shaped like a wand and have a light source built into one end. The dentist simply zooms in on the tooth or teeth, snaps the picture and displays it on a computer screen right in the room. The dentist can then point to the exact problem spot and educate the patient on what is happening to the tooth, and what treatment is needed to fix it.
"It's a great patient-education tool," said Dr. Sung Nam, a family dentist in West Melbourne, Florida. "By showing them the pictures of their teeth, the patients really understand what is going on with their health. For example, they often cannot feel cavities. I would have patients tell me, 'Well, I'm not in any pain,' and want to delay treatment, even though I would explain that the cavity could worsen and may lead to more extensive treatment such as a root canal and crown or possibly an extraction. But when they can see the condition of their tooth themselves, they are more likely to act quickly."
Early treatment can help ensure the problem doesn't progress into a painful situation. Plus, early treatment can save patients a lot of money. It's a lot cheaper to get a filling than to get a root canal and crown, for instance. A root canal on a molar can cost upwards of $1,200. If the tooth needs to be extracted, the person may need an implant or a bridge. If the patient does require a bridge, then the dentist has to file down the healthy teeth on either side of the missing tooth, so now three teeth have been impacted by the cavity.
Through the digital images taken with an intra-oral camera, the patient can see exactly what the doctor sees, including, cavities, broken fillings, cracked teeth, sealants, restorations, molars and gums. It only takes a few seconds to snap the pictures, but they can make a big difference in the patient's understanding of his or her health. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
South Melbourne dentist Sung Nam, DMD, has been a practicing dentist since 2007. He provides general dentistry services to patients age 9 and older at Coast Dental Palm Bay, 145 Palm Bay Road NE, Suite 104, West Melbourne, FL 32904. He can be reached at (321) 728-8053.
Written by: Beth Gaddis
Reviewed by: Sung Nam, DMD
Reviewed by: Diaa Ghabbour, DMD
Reviewed by: Charbel Klaib, DMD