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The Modern Dental Practice

modern dentistry_ intraoral imaging I Minimal dead space, rounded corners and a white face are important for getting the mesial of the first premolar. (Photos/Provided by XDR) _Software Try the software! If it doesn’t seem immediately easy to use, just imagine the time your staff will waste wrestling with it in the first weeks and over the years. Check the image manipulation. You should find single-click abilities for modifying contrast and brightness, multiple levels of sharpening, and specialty filters for hard and soft tissues. And some sort of feedback on exposure will help your auxiliaries train themselves to stop underexposing your images. Make sure that you can design your own mounts, that cumulative measurements are simple, and that exams are easy to transfer from the wrong to the right patient. See if it can send and receive secure emails in DICOM format. And don’t be afraid to switch — database conversions are getting better all the time. _Cost Consider all the costs. If you have to pay every year for a warranty — guess what — that’s part of the cost of the sensor. And if someone promises a long warranty, get the details of what happens if there’s a failure during the second year. If you have to pay for a replacement sensor, that’s not a warranty; it’s a replacement plan. Figure on your staff damaging a sensor at least once every five years. And consider software costs. If the software is installed on 10 computers but you only use four of them at any one time, are you paying for 10 licenses or just four? _Ergonomics Is the sensor rounded enough? That will make your patients more comfortable and your assistants faster. Is the sensor easy to see inside the mouth? Easy to clean? Can you plug it directly into the computer, or do you have to fret with an interface box? _Integration The conglomerates like to talk about integration between practice management and imaging sys- tems, but is an extra click worth having lower-quality images or software that’s under-featured or hard to use? And don’t forget the advantages of having both software and sensor provided by the same manufac- turer. Both image quality and service may depend on it. And who needs finger pointing? _Service How much will it cost you to be without your imaging even for one day? Don’t be shy about asking imaging vendors for statistics about their response time, or about paying a nominal sum for such support. Make sure you’re talk- ing to the manufacturer of the sensor, to the writer of the software. Have your IT guy interview them. See how long the same owners have been in charge. Ask friends. Check on message boards. There’s no question that doing a bit of research, considering a five-year cost of ownership and asking questions can save you time, money and frustration. Over decades of experience, doctors who did this were far happier. Know the differences. Make your own choice._ _References * Udupa H, Mah P, et. al. “Evaluation of image quality parameter of representative intraoral digital radiographic systems.” Oral Surgery Oral Medicine Oral Pathology Oral Radiology. 2013 December; 116(6): 774-783. ** Mah, Peter, W. Doss McDavid, and S. Brent Dove. “Quality assurance phantom for digital dental imaging.” Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology, and Endodontology 112.5 (2011): 632-639. Software controls to promote optimal diagnosis. I 13

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