The human eye is very limited in its ability to see minute details. Unfortunately, this is exactly what doctors and dentists need in order to diagnose and treat their patients. For the latter, determining the condition of a person’s oral health used to mean performing a routine surface examination and evaluating the effects of tooth decay that could were easily visible. Dental technology has come a long way, however, and now with the use of phase contrast microscopes, dentists can get a precise read on the bacteria levels on each individual tooth. In particular, these devices are instrumental in determining how much of a risk a patient is at for developing oral health conditions like periodontitis.
Detecting Bacteria in the Mouth
By simply scanning a small sample of plaque, Dr. Sanderson can quickly decide what type of treatment plan is needed to prevent the worsening of an existing problem and the development of major infections. It has been found that bacteria in the mouth tend to build up mostly in the crevices and pockets in the gum tissue surrounding teeth. When this occurs, the tissue subsequently becomes inflamed and becomes weaker. When an infection is severe, just brushing your teeth can be the warning sign needed to get help. Bleeding gums are the tell-tale sign of infections, but it should be noted that the condition should never be allowed to get to this point.
And, with a phase contrast microscope, dentists have helped an increasing number of patients stay in the clear. Before this development, the only tool that was (and is still available in many clinics) is the metal probe used to gently pull away the tissue to expose any underlying bacterial build-up. As said, severe cases are easily noticeable and obviously do not require the use of a microscope to know something is wrong. However, early detection and prevention necessitates the detail afforded by microscopic viewing.
The Benefits of the Phase Contrast Microscope
The main advantage the dental phase contrast microscope has over traditional probes is a significant reduction in diagnosis times. The image generated by a sample section will instantly show what types of bacteria are present (spirochetes, WBCS, Motile Rods, Protozoans) and how many there are. By comparing their findings to a microscopic periodontal risk chart, dentists will know exactly where the patient stands with respect to exposure.
From the Patient’s Perspective
Another benefit to using the technology is that patients too can view first-hand at what is going on in their mouth. Knowing the bacteria on the screen came from their gums is a powerful motivator, and greatly eliminates common problems with doctor-patient communication. One of the greatest challenges of being a doctor is the need to communicate findings in layman’s terms and make a patient realize how important their dental health is. A phase contrast microscope is just one more tool that has made this task easier.