When a microscope is used, a variety of working magnifications are available. Before I used a microscope at Rocky Ridge Dental Associates, I was limited to the single magnification available through binocular loupes (those funny looking glasses you see me using when checking you after your teeth are cleaned). That magnification is usually only 2-3x in strength. In 2002, I began using the dental operating microscope in all procedures I performed in the office, and I can truly say that I would never go back to the old method of magnification. Today, I typically work in the 12-15x level. If you contrast the amount of detail I can see at 12x versus the old 2x magnification, you will understand how much more information is available visually at that increased level.

Okay, but what does this mean for you? Neuroscientists have shown that as one uses higher magnifications, new neural pathways develop to allow more precise movements. If you have ever tried working through a magnifying glass, you will understand that it feels quite awkward. This is because your muscles are not used to the precise movement that is required. As you continue working, it becomes easier because your muscles have adapted to this increased visual magnification. This enables a microscope user to increase their precision and perception of detail. Precision in dentistry is a goal for enhanced longevity, better fit, and healthier tissue response to dental treatment.

An added benefit of the microscopes used at my office is the ability of our patients to watch the procedure on flat screen televisions mounted above them on the ceiling. I would estimate that over 95% of our patients watch their procedures. It is an immensely valuable teaching aid for me as well. I explain each step and help you understand the benefits of treatment, areas of concern, and the outcome of my therapy. You are by no means required to watch the monitor, and it will be turned off if you so desire. Additionally, my dental assistant has a screen mounted on the wall behind you so they can check the operating field as I see it to increase their effectiveness. Parents can also view this screen as we treat your children. Occasionally, we have dentists, dental students, or pre-dental students come to the office to learn microscope techniques, and they will be able to see through this screen or the conference room television. Your permission will be sought to allow other professionals in the treatment room.

Ergonomically, the use of a microscope allows your dental team to be more relaxed during your treatment. It helps limit uncomfortable posture, thereby increasing the precision of movement. Try this at home. Instead of sitting at your computer keyboard, try standing and typing, or put a few books under the keyboard. These minor inconveniences are greatly magnified when you perform in those positions for hours at a time. Believe me, you want your dental team to be working ergonomically to increase their precision and their efficiency!

Dr. Roy A. Smith, III offers this technology in order to provide optimal care for our patients. Contact Dr. Smith if you would like to learn more about our microdentistry in Vestavia Hills, Alabama.