Digital Radiography in Endodontic Therapy
A clear advantage in patient education
Tony Druttman, MSc, BSc, BChD
Certainly, the introduction of
digital radiography has been one of the great advances in dentistry in recent
years. This technology is especially
beneficial for endodontics, since this discipline depends on radiographs of the
highest quality for accurate diagnosis, treatment, and evaluation of treatment
outcomes. Digital radiographs continue
to increase in importance from the perspective of patient safety too, and
recent coverage in the mainstream media has prompted the American Dental
Association and other leaders in organized dentistry to advocate guidelines for
the proper use of dental x-rays.1,2
Today, an important part of our
professional responsibility is to educate patients about treatment options. We would not consider performing endodontic
treatment without discussing alternative options. Since society emphasizes the visual image, the
synergy between words and pictures enables us to information and educate our
patients more effectively than ever before. In this manner too, digital radiographs play a
Just as the intraoral camera has
become an essential communication tool, the digital radiograph also provides
this advantage over conventional radiography.3 Presenting an image that has been magnified
over 30 times, as compared with a conventional radiographic film, greatly
augments the clinician’s ability to communicate effectively with his or her
patients (Figures 1 -2). The creation of serial images, the simultaneous
examination with magnification, and a follow-up to monitor the progressive
healing of a lesion enable clinicians to demonstrate a clearly successful
endodontic treatment to patients (Figures
3 - 4 -5 -6) .
Unfortunately, there will be
situations such as file separation when treatment outcomes are not what had
been predicted. Again, a detailed
explanation that is accompanied by potential solutions is significantly
enhanced by the digital radiographic image.
Presenting Options and Practice Marketing
Endodontic treatment may not always
be the optimal option for every indication. It may not be ideal, for example, for a
broken-down molar with little coronal tooth structure, the premolar requiring re-treatment,
a new post and core, the subgingival fracture of an anterior tooth. At times, an implant or a bridge may be more
appropriate. Since many patients may not
be familiar with implants, digital radiographic documentation of prior implant
cases offers an ideal resource with which to present this option.
Patients often equate
“state-of-the-art” with quality; therefore, incorporating the latest diagnostic
technology into one’s practice may place a dental professional ahead of his or
her competitors. In similar fashion,
patients are frequently impressed by the ability to instantly view digital
radiographs on monitors placed chairside. Additionally, presenting comparable cases in
the consultative phase will undoubtedly comfort patients and reinforce their
confidence in the clinician’s skills.
Digital radiography is undoubtedly
the trend in dentistry today, and it is poised to be the mainstay of the
future. Its multidisciplinary benefits, particularly for the field of
endodontics, enhance patient education and contribute to a better understanding
of the treatments necessary to preserve oral health.
Endodontics, London, UK.
Lavelle CL. The role of direct intraoral sensors in the provision of endodontic
services. Endod Dent Traumatol 1999;15(1):1-5.