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Dr. Patricia Berube: Technology can help out mouths

As a periodontist, I am constantly being bombarded daily with the new best thing — the thing that will cure gum disease, the machine that will make my life easier and more productive, the device that will make all of my dreams come true.

I think I have gotten pretty good at siphoning through the nonsense versus those items that will make my life easier, while making patient care more accessible, affordable and less scary!

One item that has been adopted by many dentists is the digital X-ray. Digital dental X-rays use a sensor rather than film. The radiation exposure is reduced by 70 percent to 80 percent, and the need to use developers has been eliminated. It is also an instantaneous image, so there is no more waiting for an image.

I think the best advantage though, is the ability to communicate these images to other offices. With a click of a button, we can share these radiographs with our referring offices.

I still like standard film X-rays for certain items, but digital dental X-rays have come a long way. Don’t fret, though, if your dentist still uses film. It is a hard transition, and costly if you began with film. The main focus should be that your dentist is taking the appropriate films at the appropriate times for diagnosis.

Cross-sectional imaging is another newer technology that is becoming more prevalent in the dental world. Locally, there are several offices that have them, but there are also CT imaging centers, including one in Denton.

This imaging is important to evaluate for implant placement, intraoral lesions, tumors, cysts and other surgical needs. When unable to fully diagnose a condition based on conventional X-rays, dental CT scans are available to help, along with a radiologist’s interpretation. This has created a new partnership between radiology departments and the dental world.

Another item under consideration by many dentists now are lasers. There are so many different types of lasers, with many different purposes.

Some lasers are used for restorative treatment or to help with fillings, and some are used to help with soft tissue issues, such as gum tags or muscle pulls. There are also many lasers that have been used for periodontal therapy.

It took me a long time to get there, but I have finally adopted laser periodontal therapy in the office. I guess when you have been practicing a certain way for a long time, it is hard to change. After talking to some periodontal colleagues about this treatment, they have had some good successes.

I felt that it was important to be able to offer this less invasive periodontal treatment in my office, especially now that the links of periodontal disease and systemic disease are so strong and well known.

Each day my office gets fliers advertising courses about the role of oral health and periodontal disease in the treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It is a big deal. So, being able to offer several treatment options to my patients prompted me to invest in this laser technology.

There is no magic bullet in the treatment of periodontal disease, but this is a great tool to help. If you would like more information, please visit my website,

DR. PATRICIA BERUBE, a periodontist, is a diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology and is in private practice in Denton. She received her dental degree at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine and her certificate and master’s degree at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. For more information, visit .