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Digital Dental Examinations

Ever wondered what on earth we are doing when we are doing when we examine your mouth? Well, here’s an update on our current Spires protocol.


Checking your soft tissues

The single most important aspect of a dental check-up is to assess your soft tissues for anything that might look out of place. Yes, this includes various cancers, but it more often relates to other more mundane lesions such as white patches, benign lumps etc

We are not specialists in this area, but we act as a screening device for the people in secondary care who focus their lives on these things.


Checking your teeth

There are three things we are looking for when we check your teeth:

1. Decay

2. The presence of any fractures

3. Tooth wear from acid erosion or grinding of your teeth

You can help us with this by making sure your teeth are clean before your visit. We don’t mind food being lodged between your teeth, but it can impede our view 


Checking your gums

Gum disease is the most prevalent disease in the world and one that largely goes unnoticed by people as it rarely hurts. Sadly, it can lead to deterioration of the bone around the teeth and eventual tooth loss. You can also get bad tastes and bad breath…. Ugh

We will gently probe around your gums and classify the extent of any gum disease you may have, your current disease profile, as well as any risk factors.


Digital X-rays

Depending on the number of fillings you have, and how often you are getting decay, we will take x-rays every 1-5 years.

X-rays allow us to assess for any tooth decay in areas we cannot see and the bone levels around your teeth. We try and take the x-rays in the same way each time allowing us to monitor any suspicious areas.


Digital scanning

The newest kid on the block, this amazing technology takes digital models of your teeth that can be used for a myriad of things, such as:

• Monitoring any tooth wear – is it getting worse or not? Are you still grinding or eroding your teeth?

• Checking your gum levels – is there any recession?

• Are your teeth moving? This is especially relevant if you’ve had a brace in the past and we want to make sure your teeth are still well aligned.

• We can have retainers and night guards made without having to stick loads of gunk in your mouth.

• Education- what better way can there be to show you any problems than with 3D models of your own teeth

• Remote Triage – it is incredibly helpful to have 3D models to refer to when we are triaging any issues you have remotely.

• Planning of any advanced treatment is a lot easier when we can review your models at any time, in any location. All we need is access to the internet.

Due to the extra time scanning takes we can only be offer it on Examination clinics.


What’s changed?

Well, all the above takes a lot of time so we have two clear choices:

1. Increase your appointment time with our dentists leading to a marked increase in your examination costs

2. Structure our diary and train our nurses to take the digital x-rays and scans allowing us to keep the cost to you more reasonable.

We went for option 2…

So, what will you notice? Well, the dentist may not be in the room when you come into the surgery, or the dentist may move onto another surgery once their side of your visit is done.

What’s happening? Well, the dentist is seeing someone else in another surgery but don’t be jealous, it’s just allowing us to deliver on the high standards we set for your check-up.


But what if I have something I want to discuss?

If you are having a problem, or you want to discuss more advanced treatment such as making aesthetic improvements to your smile, then please let us know as we will not have time to do this on a regular check-up appointment.


The Downsides?

Well in our opinion there are very few downsides to the changes we have introduced. Being able to monitor your teeth in 3D has been a massive boon already, allowing us to detect, monitor and educate our patients to the new 21st century standard.

The one thing we ask? Please keep your Scan Head (a white sleeve that we use during scanning) and bring it to your appointments. Sadly the Scan heads are not recyclable and cannot be reused – this meant we were filling up our bins with wasted scan heads which didn’t seem right to us.

I hope this has been of use to you in learning more about what we do and why we do it.

Take care of yourself,


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