My take on intraoral cameras

Chris sent me a link that led me to this… thanks Chris.

I love my intraoral cameras, last year at Gnomedex I was the only one interviewed that claimed my favorite tech gadget was a digital x-ray sensor, this year it’s my intraoral camera.

Intraoral cameras are the best teaching aids for dentists ever. When I have a patient that has a broken tooth and I show them how large the fracture is, how big their filling is, how broken the tooth is, the time It usually takes me to explain all that is cut to seconds. Intraoral cameras allow me to preserve images of anything I see in the mouths of my patients, and share that with them, something we dentists have dreamed of for years, now a reality.

There were imaging devices 7-8 years ago. They were bulky obnoxious things costing about 4 grand that a dentist could cart around (literally we had to use carts).

Most manufacturers of dental equipment feel that in order to justify higher than average prices the item needs to be large and heavy, the bulkier the better so the dentist feels their money is well spent. This kind of thinking may have actually had some truth to it in the 40’s but I knew better. I knew sometime someone was going to take apart a web cam, and illuminate it so I could take pictures of my patients mouth parts and show them what I was seeing. You have to understand the pressures these manufacturers put on dentists, their marketing budgets are huge, their profit margins are usually very nice, which fuels the sales pitches even more. For years I watched other dentists plop down tens of thousands for these machines, always kind of jealous, but I knew in my heart of hearts the technology was there to give me what I needed, a cheap, easy to use, simple, USB 2.0 intraoral imaging device. A few years ago I found it, there it was, USB 2.0 (cutting edge for dental) at that time there were only a couple of manufacturers making them, but there it was I had to have one. Then I looked at the price. $4000 WTF? What happened to that old bulky is expensive philosophy? Four grand for a fancy USB cam with a capture button? It was too late I knew I needed one of these, hell I need eight of these, it’s better for everyone to see what’s going on, it makes dentistry more transparent, patients realize we’re not trying to soak them for a crown, or new fillings, that we indeed want to help. So I ponied up and bought one, last year I bought another, and yes they are wonderful tools.

It still sticks in my craw that the manufacturers are soaking me, I know most intraoral cameras are really glorified web cams, they have different lenses, and LED illumination, but at most manufacturing cost is $50. I wish they were cheap enough for consumers to use, I would love for my patients to beam me photos of their teeth for me to look at, I think it would get consumers more involved with their oral care, but at $4000 I don’t think I’ll be seeing those molar shots from Mr. Smith any time soon.

I just got a Canon G9 and love it, the technology in this camera is light years ahead of ANY intraoral camera on the market, maybe someday Canon will make me an intraoral setting? See ya at Gnomedex.

PS: 3M is now making an intraoral scanner, kind of like a camera only it takes 3d images… I want one I want one badly… it’s my next gadget, and seriously we’re in Star trek territory.