Schick 33’s Hygiene Module Offers New Perspective on Dental Disease
A “magic bullet” to prevent the development of dental disease has yet to come, says Andrew Koenigsberg, DDS.
Until promising therapies emerge, the New York-based private practitioner says prevention using oral-hygiene standbys such as flossing and proper brushing and early diagnosis for dental disease using the best available technology remain the focus of care.
He calls the Schick 33 sensor “incredible technology” that gives him a professional edge, much as using the best athletic equipment provides a competitive edge to athletes. “My feeling is that if the 2D x-ray is our primary diagnostic tool, we should use the one that gives us the most information. Just as a professional biker would ride a carbon-fiber bike, not an aluminum model from the 1970s, we who do dentistry for a living should use the best available technology.”
He says the Schick 33 sensor provides the diagnostic information he needs to determine the best treatment plan for his patients. It also enables him to show patients what he sees, so that they will better understand and accept not only treatment but also better internalize the prevention message, which can be difficult to convey if decay is not obvious to the patients. “When patients can clearly see the incipient decay—which basically shows up as a black dot or triangle on the x-ray—it’s easy to explain the consequences of not flossing—that is, the acid dissolves the tooth.”
Schick’s new hygiene mode, he explains, provides an excellent general view for both dentists and hygienists during the hygiene exam, which focuses on periodontal disease and caries. “The hygiene view is a good starting point for the accurate detection of incipient decay, while other modes are more procedure specific. The restorative mode is to show decay better, the endodontic mode is to show bone around the apex better, and the periodontic mode is to show the interproximal bone better. However, the hygiene mode presents an image balanced for general tooth and bone display but with a lighter tone.”
Koenigsberg considers options in digital tools provided by an excellent digital sensor such as the Schick 33 enormously advantageous for the early and accurate diagnosis of decay. “Starting from that initial view provided by the hygiene mode, there are many ways to modify the view to get even more information. The good sensors and software let you adjust contrast, brightness, and gray scale to get even more information to select the most appropriate treatment.”
“Perhaps the greatest value of good diagnostic technology,” he says, “is that it helps the dentist diagnose early and maybe convince patients to be more attentive to oral hygiene—using whatever products and approaches that can prevent or diagnose caries early and improve their oral health.”
He points to currently available products that support hygiene—eg, air and water flossers, antibacterial rinses, electric toothbrushes—as positive additions to hygiene if they help patients do more than they would otherwise, and points out that remineralization can be a function of just keeping teeth clean and letting saliva do its work.
Koenigsberg expects more promising breakthroughs in prevention in the near future. “On one hand, everyone knows what they want to do—they want to remineralize the tooth, arrest incipient decay, and influence and change the bacterial flora and plaque. There are plenty of people out there working on better antibacterial rinses, better mechanical devices, and better tools, such as Schick 33, that aid earlier diagnosis. Dentists need to be paying attention to these developments and be ready to provide or recommend them to their patients when they are proven and available.”
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