Are You Redundant?
Thoughts about how not to interrupt your practice…
Martin B. Goldstein DMD, FAGD
Dr. Martin Goldstein, a fellow of the International Academy of Dento-Facial Esthetics as well as a fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry, practices general dentistry in Wolcott CT, USA. Recognized as one of the Leaders in CE by Dentistry Today for the last 7 years and for his expertise in the field of dental digital photography, he lectures and writes extensively concerning cosmetics and the integration of digital photography into the general practice. He has authored numerous articles for multiple dental periodicals both in the US and abroad. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was with eyes wide open that I observed my partner scramble to piece together a make-shift version of his everyday loupe and light combination. His mainstay set had succumbed to everyday wear and tear and was making it hard for him to see what he was doing. While he did manage to scrounge up some older parts and make a go of it while newer parts and pieces were ordered, it made me think. Could I reliably operate at this point in my career without my loupes and proper illumination? It didn’t take more than a second to realize that if my loupes went on the fritz, from to dropping or bumping or whatever other malady could be inflicted upon them, I would be shut down until further notice. That is, unless I had cleverly planned for that someday occurrence and made it a point to order a back-up set.
No, this is not an extravagance. Think about our other tools. Our compressors that drive our handpieces typically have dual heads that would allow for one engine to drive the system if the other failed. Even our high-speed evacuation systems have fail-safe mechanisms. We also have two handpieces at our disposal knowing that if one line went down, we could still manage. Redundancy in our everyday operations is what allows us to run uninterrupted in most cases. There are two entities that can, however, bring us to our knees. The first: in today’s digitally based practice, there is the dreaded “can’t fix it in one day” computer system crash. This takes out our ability to manage our business, not to mention, take X-rays, and the operator’s ability to clearly see what his dental assignments are for the day. Say what?
The second: If you’ve been working with the aid of loupes for as many years as I have, you are likely aware that doing responsible dentistry is impossible without having quality magnification at your disposal. No “if’s, and’s or but’s” on that one. I’m sure you get the point here. Unless you have a spare set of loupes (that are not ancient!) you run the risk of total shut down for, who knows how long, to get a new or repaired set. You may as well have the flu for all the good you will be in your office. While an LED light might be replaced relatively quickly, loupes are custom-fitted items that cannot be easily pulled off the shelf for a quick turnaround without sacrificing visual acuity.
Getting back to the concept of “ancient,” a back-up set of loupes must also be in step with any revisions made to your everyday loupes with respect to prescription changes made over the years. So as long as your primary and back-up set of loupes are in step, it’s conceivable that the back-up set, if sparingly used, can one day become your primary set. With your primary set being relegated to back-up status so long as the technology hasn’t changed too drastically. If that set is too beat up, however, it is best to invest in new back-up to replace the now primary loupes. Sounds like Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on first?” doesn’t it? But you get it. We thrive on redundancy and you the operator need to be redundant as well.
Do You Place Implants or Prep Multiple Units Frequently?
Allow me to touch upon one other ancillary benefit with respect to ownership of more than one set of loupes. If you have incorporated the placement of implants into your practice, you may have noticed that higher levels of magnification (4.0x to 5.0x and above) can limit your field of vision sometimes making it difficult to visually gauge parallelism. At the same time, replacing your loupes with your “street glasses” or wearing no glasses at all, makes the target field appear too distant. Might it make sense to have a separate set of loupes in a 3.0x to 3.5x range that allows for a wider field of view but still affords you an appreciable level of magnification and accuracy? This concept might also be extended to doing multiple crown preps that will require parallelism in order to seat an appliance. And might the 3.0x-3.5x set function as a back-up to your higher magnification set? Yes! In a pinch, it can!
Redundancy is the Wise Doctor’s Mantra
So there you have it. A word to the wise with respect to keeping you productive in the event your loupes take an unexpected tumble or even if, heaven forbid, you leave them at a CE event you just attended. I would refrain from using that dreaded term “insurance” but, let’s face it, that’s what we’re talking about. In this case, however, you are your own underwriter. One other word to the wise, not all loupes and loupe companies are the same. I would offer the following list of criteria when selecting your loupe supplier.
- That the company be solely devoted to this line of equipment and has a history of being an industry leader for many years
- That the company insists upon custom fitting their loupes, (inclusive of working distance, angle of declination, and inter-pupillary distance)
- That the company has mobile representation who can visit your office to custom fit you or to troubleshoot issues that you might be having
- That the company has a wide variety of frames, magnification ranges, and methods (flip up or TLL) to choose from
- That the company is able to pair a suitable light-weight LED headlight to your chosen loupes
- That the company be capable of rapid solutions to your magnification needs
While not the only company to possibly fulfill these criteria, I don’t hesitate to recommend to you my loupe company, SurgiTel. Without a doubt, they not only meet but exceed the above criteria. Be sure to include them when deciding upon your next loupe and light combinations.
Here’s to your redundancy!
-Martin B. Goldstein DMD, FAGD
Note: Also see Dr. Goldstein’s book: What Your Eyes Can’t See…A Patient’s Guide to Hidden Tooth Decay and Micro-fractures by Dr. Martin Goldstein, available from Photomed International, www.photomed.net