Portability in practice – Raine Leary Clark DentalFeatured Products Promotional Features
Posted by: The Probe 11th May 2018
There is no doubt that technology has had a profound impact on the world. In fact, two thirds of the population in the UK own a handheld device such as a smartphone, demonstrating the extent to which we have become an increasingly mobile society.[i] So, it should come as no surprise that the devices traditionally used in dentistry are now evolving to become more portable as well, creating new possibilities for practitioners and the way in which they care for their patients.
As you will know, people in Britain are living for longer and taking their natural dentitions with them into old age. Dentists and the allied professions will see increasing numbers of older patients in the near future, and it has been suggested that there will be many with complex oral health needs. A growth in edentulous patients, for instance, is leading to increased popularity of implant procedures, which can prove to be challenging in many situations. Dependent elderly patients are likely to require more complex oral hygiene support, topical fluoride applications and sensible dietary advice to prevent deterioration of their oral health.
Additionally, the elderly population are more at risk of oral health issues, particularly as old age itself can eventually lead to a reduction in saliva gland function. Anti-psychotic drugs, anti-epileptics, anti-depressants, beta-blockers, and diuretics can all cause a reduced saliva production – increasing the risk of tooth decay and gingival disease.[ii] Indeed, diabetics are more vulnerable to gum infections too.ii These older patients have much higher diagnostic needs, that must be met in order for practitioners to provide the care that is required. It is therefore crucial for the dental profession to be prepared to support the elderly, both by utilising their own expertise and the innovative technology that is available.
This is where the availability and versatility of portable dental equipment can support a more efficient delivery of treatment in a wide variety of complex settings. As such, there is an ever-increasing demand for portable dental equipment that is lightweight, dependable, highly transportable, and easy to use and maintain. In recent years, various types of portable equipment have been introduced to the market, some of which are quite sophisticated in terms of their design and uses.[iii]
For instance, practitioners now have access to systems that can measure and analyse a patient’s occlusion with high precision and accuracy in a single digital scan. There are also sophisticated intraoral chairside scanners that can take a digital impression of a patient’s mouth, which can then be sent to a laboratory or in-house milling unit almost instantaneously in order to build accurate restorations. This is more efficient than subjecting the patient to a mouthful of impression material and then sending the impression to a lab. This quicker, less invasive option is very popular among the elderly suffering from the effects of tooth loss.
Practitioners can also benefit from modern, digital radiographic devices that are capable of capturing higher resolution images in a shorter span of time than traditional solutions. This allows practitioners to spend more time consulting their patients, rather than moving them from room to room for radiographs. Handheld X-ray units are ideal in these instances, particularly in managing the expectations of dental phobic patients who may be intimidated by bulkier equipment. The portability of these smaller, more mobile devices provides a cost-effective way for practices to save space, and offers practitioners the flexibility to utilise them across multiple surgeries – which simply would not be possible with conventional static, wall mounted X-ray units.
The Nomad PRO 2 from Clark Dental, for example, is the most advanced handheld X-ray system on the market today. Weighing at just over five pounds, the Nomad PRO 2’s lightweight and cordless design allows the device to be moved efficiently within the practice, eliminating the need for multiple units that can prove to be cumbersome to operate in everyday life. In addition to being perfect for any NHS or private practice, particularly when treating children and special needs patients, the Nomad is also ideal for out-of-office use for those wishing to offer a domiciliary service. The Nomad PRO 2 is designed to be discreet but powerful, producing hundreds of high resolution images from a single battery charge.
Although portable units in dentistry are not necessarily a novel idea, they are being re-engineered and developed to become smaller and easier to use in a variety of dental care situations – particularly for patients who find it difficult to attend their regular dental appointments. Neither practitioner nor patient need sacrifice functionality for size and portability. Recent innovations have transformed long established diagnostic equipment into faster, highly efficient systems that are much more suited to meet the demands of modern dental treatment.
[i] Ofcom. (2017) The UK is now a smartphone society. Link: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/media/media-releases/2015/cmr-uk-2015. [Last accessed: 28.11.17]
[ii] My Ageing Parent. (2014) Elderly dental problems and solutions. Link: https://myageingparent.com/health/medical/dental-problems-in-the-elderly-and-their-solutions/. [Last accessed: 28.11.17]
[iii] Charlton, D.G. (2009) Portable dental equipment: dental units and x-ray equipment [abstract]. Gen Dent. 57(4):336-41.
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