Doctors love their technology and fancy gadgets… in case by now in today’s modern hospital or clinic you couldn’t already tell. That’s why I’m going to share my excitement about my latest and greatest addition to my office.

This week, I am installing GALILEOS by Sirona. Sirona is a dental company developing and manufacturing top-of-the-line technological equipment, imaging systems, and instruments catering to today’s most updated dentists. GALILEOS is a complete 3-D diagnostics low-radiation imaging system. Did you hear the emphasis on “3-D” and “low-radiation”?

First, it may help to understand conventional dental x-ray systems. X-rays are necessary for dental and orthodontic work today. Without x-rays, a lot of guessing — a scary word in the medical field — would be done on delicate and precise procedures, such as dental implants or root canals. You would steer clear away from a dentist who just “guesses” at which direction to drill (or not), right? That is serious trouble. But x-rays allow us to see below the surface without much hassle, which saves a priceless amount of pain, mistakes, and loss.

However, x-rays don’t come without their well-known and feared side effects from exposure to radiation. In each individual’s condition, it is best to be up front with your doctor about whether you are in good enough health to withstand that exposure with little to no problems. Generally, if you are taking good care of yourself — eating well, sleeping well, and getting fresh air, sunshine, and exercise — and not getting x-rays every single week for the rest of your life, you’re at a significantly lower risk of illness caused by radiation. I do believe that exposure should be as minimized as possible, though.

This is why I, the holistic dentist, am thrilled our new system uses lower amounts of radiation. And there’s a bonus: a clearer, more detailed picture — in three dimensions, no less! I’ll cover more details this week, but next time you’re in my office, get ready to see some pretty cool stuff.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

The definition of a root fracture is exactly that — a fractured root.

In the tooth, of course.

Root fractures are horizontal cracks near the root of your tooth, occurring beneath the gum line (therefore requiring x-rays to find… when telltale pain and wiggly teeth first bring you to the dentist). The location of the fracture in relation to the ends of the tooth, the tip of the root (the apex) or the tips of the crown (the visible chewing surface), determines the lasting strength and health left in the tooth. The closer the fracture is to the root tip, the better the chances of a successful healing are. But the closer the fracture is to the crown, chances are it will not successfully heal on its own. A splint is also designed for this type of injury, to be worn temporarily as the tooth heals (if, of course, the fracture is minor enough to be left alone). If the pulp inside the tooth is damaged, a root canal may be required to disinfect and seal off the problematic area.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

By reading the information provided on this website, there’s almost no need for me to explain…well, anything! I’ve been using this system for a while now, and it is far superior to any other. The picture is clear and sharp, yet captures the depth of the x-rayed area so thoroughly that it makes it much easier to see what is beneath the surface in your mouth. This increases dental precision and effectiveness.

What’s also great is that all of the files, pictures, x-rays, and records for each patient are stored digitally. No more sorting through gigantic file cabinets or spilling a super-thick folder’s contents all over the ground, mixing up patients’ films and records. As long as you take measures to keep your internet reliable (utilize at least two methods; for example, use cable/DSL as your primary source, and satellite as your backup), this is definitely a great time, money, and space saver.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

This week brought two new patients that have locked jaws. Their “TMJ joints” either have been displaced or they are having muscle spams. There was a significant differences in age as well as both sexes.

So what do we do? First, I always start with a full exam. This includes history of the injury or event along with full dental exam. I check muscles and all the related supporting structures to get an idea of the extent of the problem.

A word about x-rays: I recommend a complete set of x-rays as well as additional x-rays of the TMJ. For the x-rays of the TMJ, there is a single cone x-ray called an I-Cat. The I-Cat gives a great hard tissue view of the bone. If I need additional information after I see the I-Cat, I may request an MRI. This kind of X-ray will fill in the blanks of soft tissue information that the I-Cat will not have.

With the combination of the exam, history and supporting documentation can give me a great idea as to the health of the TMJ and a prognosis. Having an accurate diagnosis is what dictates treatment and projected outcome. Based upon this information, I design and make a TMJ splint. A well designed TMJ splint is essnetial for TMJ treatment as well as for aiding in the diagnosis.

Locked jaws are nothing to waste time about. One of the most important factors determining recovery is the time lapse between the event and a visit to your dentist. Time is critical. The sooner care is started the better the chance of complete recovery. I am pleased to say that I expect these two patients from last week to make good recoveries.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles