The Use of Laser in Dental Practice
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The development of medical practice in the last decades should be primarily characterized through the shift from analog to digital ways of obtaining information. A fundamentally important feature of modern digital medical systems is that the transfer of the required medical information does not influence the quality. The digital approach to medical practice is being promoted in various areas of health care, including dentistry. The application of new tools and techniques of information technology such as digital radiography is based on the transmission and processing of digital images, which allow providing efficient dental diagnostics and treatment. The major goal of digital radiography is to produce high quality radiographic representation in order to increase the efficiency of the diagnostic process carried out by the oral healthcare team (Thomson & Johnson, 2011). In addition, digital radiography has become an integral element of modern oral health care as it promotes patient safety through precise assessment of radiation exposure.
Historically, the development of dental radiography started with the discovery of the X-ray performed by the professor Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, which allowed visualizing internal body structures in general medical practice, as well as in dentistry (Thomson & Johnson, 2011). Introduction of radiography to dental healthcare became a revolutionary achievement in terms of qualitative health care. Modern dentistry acknowledges that the choice of the optimal treatment of oral diseases depends on the extent of the pathological process, the accuracy of the diagnosis and the timeliness of treatment. Thereby, early differential diagnosis of the potential diseases and lesions of the human dental system, along with an objective assessment of the short-terms and long-term treatment results, are the problems of modern dentistry. A century ago, dentists and other practitioners were not aware of the potential danger of radiation causing long-term negative medical consequences among the patients (Bansal, 2006). The application of X-rays and using X-ray film is still a common practice of dental instrumental diagnostics. It has become safer, nevertheless, the methodology of such standard radiographic research does not provide a detailed characteristic of the bones condition and other anatomical details related to the hard tissue of the tooth, along with the condition of the jaw bone (Bansal, 2006). The aforementioned details are integral premises of the implementation of accurate strategic treatment plan suitable for patients with various oral diseases. Proper assessment of the condition of the jaw bones is essential in terms of prepartion of patients for implantation. Therefore, the quality and informational content of radiographic images will always occupy one of the main positions during patient examination in modern dentistry. The introduction of panoramic radiography in 1960's allowed visualizing the "whole dentition and surrounding structures on a single image" (Thomson & Johnson, 2011, p.4).
Recent years have revealed the extensive attention of dentists to the new method of micro-focus X-ray study offered by digital radiography. The progress within the field of oral care during the last three decades has been vastly concentrated on the restriction of size of the x-ray beam to the factual sizing of the image receptor (Thomson & Johnson, 2011). Overall, digital imaging has become the major contemporary tool required to obtain high-quality multidimensional images. Modern research has established the fact that radiograms made with the help of digital radiography exceed the graphic and visual potential of the standard radiography (Brennan, 2002). The first digital sensor used for digital dental imaging, known as RadioVisioGraphy was presented in 1987 and had relevant amount of medical limitations (Thomson & Johnson, 2011). On the contrary, as it was mentioned above, up-to-date digital imaging has put radiographic quality to new levels of quality and patient safety. The quality aspect is revealed in the capability of digital radiographs to evaluate the thickness and quality of bone patterns. In addition, digital radiography minimizes the amount of time spent on the examination of the dental characteristics of the patient. The time is saved through the absence of the necessity to record and process the recorded images. As a matter of fact, the spatial resolution image made by means of digital radiography can be apprehended in several seconds. In other words, it is fast, relatively affordable, and efficient in terms of diagnostics and treatment plans.
The combination of low radiation and high quality resolution of images converts digital radiography into the primary tool of modern dentistry. The high quality of resolution as compare to the conventional imaging is obtained by means of using "pixels or small light sensitive elements" (Brennan, 2002, p. 67). The forenamed pixels are distributed throughout the sensor and divided into rows and columns, creating a grid. The shades of grey range from zero to 256 depending on the area's exposure to radiation and create a detailed image, which is immediately displayed on the monitor (Parks & Williamson, 2002). As a result, the image on the monitor allows distinguishing minor objects located close to each together. Quality and sspeed, being the major advantages of digital radiography, allow the dentist to build a completely new office system of records providing explicit information about the patient's dental history and corresponding digital visualizations. Digital radiography applies minimal focal spots and instantaneous radiation exposure. Correspondingly, the utilization of old X-ray accoutrements puts the patients under the danger of unnecessary exposure to radiation. Thus, modern digital radiography has managed not only to reduce the radiation dose but also to improve the image manipulation presenting contrast enhancement, precise measurements, 3-D reconstruction, and filtration options (Brennan, 2002). Overall, modern digital radiography fulfills the functions of detecting and confirming the disease or trauma and assessing the gravity of its development (Thomson & Johnson, 2011). Digital radiography has proved to be an essential instrumentation of making correct dental diagnosis. It posses the advantages of dose reduction and image manipulation and it saves time and storage space. Moreover, it can be a subject to teleradiology, which implies compression of images to optimal sizes for sending the radiograms to colleagues (Brennan, 2002). The advantages mentioned above emphasize the comprehension of the high diagnostic utility of digital radiography as compared to film-based dentistry.
Digital radiography is rightly considered as the best and latest advancement in the radiographic aspects of modern dentistry. The utilization of computer-related technological progress and radiation sensors has allowed not only to obtain a detailed image but also to transform it into numerical data. In addition, the attained image can be instantly displayed on the monitor. Digital radiography can improve the accuracy of the diagnostic process easily diagnosing caries, periodontal bone loss, and periapical lesions. Digital radiography has many advantages including its cost and accessibility. It has become an integral element of modern dental practice as it has reduced the necessity of storage space and provided the opportunity to create digital archives. The adaptation of computer and digital sensor has become a common method of obtaining radiographic images revealing the condition of the patient's oral health.
It is necessary to emphasize the high level of clinical utility manifested by digital radiography. Its potential cannot be underestimated as its constant development can provide an overwhelming amount of additional advantages in terms of dental practice. It indeed has become an essential element of contemporary dental care promoting high diagnostic speed and patient safety.