Birmingham patients are getting a taste of the future after a city dental practice became the first in the country to use an advanced 3D tooth scanner.
Dr Dinesh Vegad bought the £140,000 equipment from Scandanavia and is now using it on patients at his own private St Paul’s Square Dental Practice, in the Jewellery Quarter, along with referrals from other dentists in the region.
After taking a CT scan, a 3D image is displayed on a computer screen, enabling Dr Vegad’s team to zoom into specific areas of the jaw from various angles and even see wisdom teeth, nerves and root canals as never before, to the nearest 0.1 of a millimetre.
It is set to save patients time and money as dentists will no longer need to use appointments to dig down into a tooth to explore problems before starting work.
“In ten years’ time, I think a lot of dentists will use a scanner like this,” said Dr Vegad, who has been a dentist for more than 25 years.
“An X-ray which is two dimensional can be misleading because you do not have any depth of field, but with this scanner, the mouth has no more hidden mysteries.
“Tumours are more easily identifiable, the radiation levels are much lower than normal and it enables dentists to see exactly where an implant needs to be, reducing the risk of complications like a numb lip or tongue.
“Seeing these sorts of advances is amazing. Being able to measure a nerve or gap from different angles and to the exact millimetre is something dentists couldn’t have imagined years ago.”
The scanner also shows up damage done by below-par dentists, something Dr Vegad says he has had to deal with lately after seeing patients who went to eastern Europe for treatment to save cash but ended up being left out of pocket to address further problems.
“One man had been to Hungary for a reconstruction of the teeth in his lower jaw but came to see me when he developed toothache and suspected the treatment had gone badly wrong,” added Dr Vegad.
“The scanner showed abscesses inside newly capped teeth and very little bone left holding his teeth in place. He ended up having to spend much more on getting his teeth corrected.
“If a British dentist did work like that, there is a regulatory body that could reprimand a dentist or strike them off, but if you go abroad, there is nothing like that.”
The scan takes minutes to complete as it revolves 360 degrees around a patient’s head. Images on the computer screen can then be saved on discs.
Dr Vegad went to Helsinki, in Finland, which is at the forefront of dental treatment and equipment, to test out the futuristic technology before shipping it to Birmingham.