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3 reasons to bite on CR for dental radiography


Digital radiography has the better image, says dentistry-focused veterinarian Dave Nicol, BVMS. But, boy, those computed radiography cassettes are a lot cheaper for the veterinary practice manager to replace if something goes south.

Uh-oh. Was that your radiography cassette? Crap. (Shutterstock.com)First off, no matter what, dentistry-focused veterinarian Dave Nicol, BVMS, says you need to be using radiography for your dental evaluations and procedures. He knows his stuff, because he's seen his share of his own bad diagnostic guesses:

"I would always try to guess the pathology," Nicol says. "And in 18 years of guessing with probe inspections, I was never better than 70 to 80 percent. I could never guess at the pathology that sits, two-thirds of that root, below the gum line."

That said, he also loves digital radiography. He used it in the UK before moving to Australia to a practice that didn't have modern dental radiography. So, these days, he would never turn down a good DR machine, which provides instant image processing and lacks the delay of cassette processing with computed radiography (which still beats the pants off old-school film). But he was swayed to CR a few years for his own practice back when iM3 pitched it to him. Here's why he tried it (and liked it):

1. Image quality probably isn't what's holding you back from more and better dental procedures

Nicol compares dental digital radiography units to high-end golf clubs: No question they're better and faster than anything else, but do you and your practice need to be that much better and faster?

"The images with CR still look really good," Nicol says. He employs multiple cassettes in his dentistry work with technicians. "I take different views with different cassettes. Cassette, boom, shoot, pass to technician. The processing is a little slower than DR, but I have time as I wait for nerve blocks to take effect and then move a patient to the other side."

2. You'll appreciate CR when you break a cassette

"Six or seven years ago, I saw CR cassettes at least one-tenth the cost of a DR cassette," Nicol says. He always worried about the "crunch" of a jaw closing if a patient wasn't completely anesthetized before he started shooting.

"That was about $6,000 gone with that crunch," he says.

3. DR plates can be, but are not always, cumbersome

Digital radiography plates can be awkward in size, with wires out the back for instantaneous image processing. To be fair, Nicol is a pretty savvy dental practitioner, so you might not mind the wires.

"I found it a little tougher to position the bulkier DR cassettes," Nicol says.

So, to recap, get dental radiography already-and use it. Preventive dentistry is real medicine, and real important, Nicol says.

"Think of dentistry as the No. 1 disease, with a 100 percent incidence rate," he says.

And if you're thinking of dental radiography, consider your particular practice needs before deciding on a unit. How fast do you need to be? How much do you like the feel of the equipment? How efficient are you in using technicians in your dental assessment and treatment plans?

Chew on that.

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