Endoscopes have been used for many years in gastroenterology, but the potential for intraoral cameras continued to improve as they became more enhanced by manufacturers. Several imaging systems were used in other areas of medicine for digital pictures and enhanced with computer software. This reimaging became used in destistry in the late 1980s mainly to educate patients and help plan treatments for altering anatomical oral frameworks.
These first dental intraoral cameras were cumbersome and required a large amount of space in the dental office. The intra oral camera price was also very high at about $40,000 per unit. The box had a hand piece, a large video processor box, dedicated computer with a floppy disc drive for saving and transferring still images as well as a VCR for viewing video images taken by the camera. Compared to today’s technology, these systems were massive. Gradually the systems became more compact and economical.
Today, a wand camera intraoral is about the size of the previous hand piece and costs less than $5,000. The cumbersome docking station has been replaced with a USB connectivity and is lightweight and much easier to operate as well as more powerful, taking higher quality images. These major technological upgrades have made the system easy to use requiring very little training and a standard part of every operatory.
The main advantage of a camera intra oral compared to an extra oral digital camera is the quality of images. The IOC also has a much faster speed and the images can be seen almost immediately on the screen. With an extra oral camera, after turning on the camera, retractors and mirrors need to be set up, the shot needs to be framed, the picture taken and down loaded into the software. This takes a lot of time.
Intraoral camera with screen extremely useful for patient education. When a person visits the dentist for a check-up, they may not think there is anything wrong with their teeth, because they have no pain or other issues. However, during the examination, the dentist may find things that need immediate attention. With an IOC, the dentist can show, through real-time photos, any dental issues. For example, gum disease may be in the beginning stages where it doesn’t hurt or show. If it is treated early, it will not spread and cause serious problems later. If the patient can actually see the disease in their mouth, they will be more willing to let the dentist treat it, than if they are just told about it, because, after all, it doesn’t hurt.
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