High-performance microscopes are powerful tools in dental treatment, but only a handful of university hospitals and professional clinics possess such equipment.
These microscopes magnify the treatment area by 10 to 26 times, which allows dentists to detect miniscule cracks and nerve damage in the teeth that are invisible to the naked eye. In the past, it was difficult to detect the precise location of infection, and thus dentists frequently removed healthy teeth surrounding the infection point as a precautionary measure.
With high-performance microscopes doctors can minimize removal and treatment so that patients do not lose natural teeth unnecessarily. Precise treatment also reduces the need for additional or follow-up procedures.
"A hospital equipped with a microscope can perform far more delicate surgeries than clinics that do not have one. Therefore, even patients who have been advised to get implants at a conventional clinic may find an alternative method that will save their natural tooth," doctor Lee Jong-ho told The Korea Herald. Dr. Lee's S-Plant Hospital has recently acquired Leica M320 microscope for dental microsurgery.
Professionals concur that a microscope is especially important in apicoectomy, a complicated procedure for opening clogged dental neural tubes and removing germs and infection when a root canal treatment is insufficient to do so.
High-performance microscopes are rare in Korea due to their high cost and the expertise required to use them. The national health insurance provides little subsidy for surgery microscopes compared to other countries such as the United States. In addition, the average US dentist earns 20 to 30 times more per root canal treatment than a dentist in Korea does, and so most US dentists own such a microscope.
"It takes skill to perform surgery based on an image magnified at a great scale. Patients should look for doctors experienced in root canal treatment and micro-dental surgery using a microscope," Dr. Lee added. Root canal treatment requires the doctor to locate and treat a few neural tubes within a tooth that is smaller than a fingernail.
"Microscopes can enable a safe and accurate treatment, much like a CAT scan for dental implants. Especially for those who seek nerve treatment or implants, I advise them to visit clinics that can provide such a service," the endodontist added.