I've been a "magnfication junkie" for as long as I've been practicing dentistry. I began using loupes (the magnfiers mounted on glasses) while I was still in dental school and began using a loupe mounted headlamp in 1998. Many patients may remember that I would often forget to remove the fiberoptic cable from the lightbox in the operatory and I would practically strangle myself when I walked away. Good times!
I have increased the magnification of my loupes from 2.0 to 2.8 to 3.8 and now finally to 6.0. The greater the magnification the more detail I'm able to see. 3-4 years ago I attempted to move up to 8.0x loupes. The problem with those was that I literally couldn't hold my body still enough for the magnification. It was so much magnification that the slight movements I made while breathing, even when I was sitting still, made it impossible to see well. Also, there really wasn't enough light, even with my new LED headlamp (brighter, not attached to the counter).
So I had reached my limit of magnification. Which was still awesome at 6.0, but I wanted more! For years I had been kicking around the idea of getting a dental operating microscope. I had seen them in the offices of root canal specialists and I had a chance to see them at dental meetings. I had even tried them in my own office with demonstrations. I held off on buying them because 1) they require a complete change in the way you work and 2) I didn't want it to become a very expensive coat rack in my operatory.
Finally, in November of 2010 I went to the Academy of Microscope Enhanced Dentistry (AMED) meeting in Santa Barbara, California. I had a chance to see lectures from some very forward thinking dentists as well as try out all the different models and features.
At the end of November I went ahead and got one.
My only regret is not having done it sooner! It takes care of the "not enough light problem" as well as the "slight movement of my body causing blurring of my visual field" problem.
The microscope is a Seiler Instruments xR6. I have a camera mounted on it that allows me to take high resolution still images as well as high resolution video. My next project is to put high resolution monitors into the operatory that will allow patients and assistants to see what I'm seeing through the microscope in real time!
Why do I go through all of the trouble for my magnification habit, you might ask? The answer is easy. Better magnification makes me do better dentistry than I can do without it. Simple as that. Now that I'm incorporating a camera, it also allows me to communicate with patients and other dentists much better.
This is one of the most exciting developments of my entire dental career! I promise to keep you posted on this exciting piece of technology!
Questions or comments? Feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I read and answer all of my own email and love to hear from readers of the blog!