Magnification in Your Practice: Seeing Better and Working Better

Author : Dental Product Shopper
Published Date 09/06/2011
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Magnification in Your Practice: Seeing Better and Working Better

Using magnification in your practice not only makes you a better clinician and benefi ts your patients?it also is an investment in your health. The simple fact is: you can only correct and diagnose what you can see. Magnification helps you see more detail and thus treat patients accurately and quickly. Patients are happier when you do things better and faster, and your productivity improves.

Taking Care of Yourself

Seeing better means taking care of your patients, but working comfortably means taking care of yourself. Magnifi cation is important for you because the health of your eyes is protected if you?re not straining them. Some dental schools now require incoming freshmen to buy magnifi cation loupes. In my own case, I don?t think I would be wearing bifocals as long as I have if I?d worn magnification loupes early in my practice.

Beyond vision concerns, many dental clinicians develop chronic neck pain and disc problems from years of maintaining poor posture to see into patients? mouths.1 A significant number of dentists experience chronic neck and back pain related to their work, and are at risk of developing serious musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). In fact, dental professionals experience work-related MSD at a higher rate than the general population.2 Long periods of time in seated positions, poor posture, and repetitive movements contribute to MSD. These disorders and chronic pain can lead to loss of income, difficulty completing tasks, absences, and for some dentists a career change.1

But chronic neck and back pain is not a necessary evil of practicing dentistry. Using properly selected magnifi - cation loupes and illumination has been demonstrated to prevent or even eliminate this chronic pain by allowing the practitioner to maintain an ergonomic posture.

A Brief History of Loupes

Loupes were first used in dentistry by endodontists and restorative dentists but have become common in general dentistry over the last 15 years.3,4 They originally were designed to improve vision, but a second goal soon arose: to correct posture and neck pain. More ergonomically correct loupes were developed in the 1990s with changes in frame design?starting with an adjustable loupes system and the introduction of much lighter-weight loupes. Today?s loupes are just one-quarter of the weight of older models, and frames are more ergonomically designed.

Types of Loupes

There are 2 types of loupes. Throughthe- lens (TTL) fi xed-focal-point (FFP) loupes have magnifi cation lenses embedded into eyeglasses, and the declination angle is fixed. They must be custommade for individual clinicians. Frontlens- mounted (FLM) loupes with a flipup option can be attached to frames or headbands. Customizable FLM loupes have a vertical slide mechanism that offers custom declination angles; generic FLMs have a pre-set declination angle.

Both types should be used with illumination. When working in a focused area, coaxial illumination (the light source between your eyes) on the loupes creates illumination parallel to the sight line. There?s no need to adjust lights, which also reduces the chances of cross-contamination. I prefer a nontethered battery pack that clips to my scrubs or a pocket.

Learning to Use Loupes

I advise those new to loupes to try out magnifi cation at trade shows. Some new users escalate the magnifi cation too rapidly. They think, ?If 2.5X power is good, why don?t I go to 3.5X?? In my opinion, 2X to 3X is more than adequate. I work with 2.5X because I don?t want the image to get too close and I don?t want to lose sight of part of the field. You can increase power if needed.

Start with flip-up loupes. My favorites are those that double articulate (flip up and down and change in angulation so you don?t have to change neck position). Then try TTL loupes. Because they have a fixed focal distance, you must have them set for the posture and position in which you treat most patients.

I usually use my FFP loupes when I?m doing concentrated-focus procedures that extend over a longer period of time. However, for routine exams and checkups, I wear flip-ups because it?s a shorter usage period.

A Long-Term Investment

Buying magnification loupes is a long-term investment in your practice and your health. Since you?ll have them for years to come, buy quality loupes. Think of the cost of your loupes spread out over time, and you?ll realize that on a per-day basis, it is not costly to protect your eyesight, your health, and the health of your practice.