The annual ADA meeting may have been one of the best dental meetings I have been to in a long time. There was great attendance and an excellent lineup of speakers. At one point, I was chatting with Dr. Mark Fleming from CERECDOCTORS.com. He mentioned he had talked with another dentist who had decided to not buy a cone beam machine at the meeting. When asked why, that doctor mentioned he had gone to a lecture by Dr. Gordon Christensen in which he heard the message "don’t get a cone beam since cone beam is not ready." This doctor was influenced enough about that statement that he decided not to purchase a machine.
Considering the enormous benefit cone beam has had on our own practice, I was as shocked as Mark was. It seemed a bit irresponsible to dismiss an entire product category as being unfit for clinical use.
So…instead of assuming the worst or spreading this rumor further, I emailed Dr. Christensen to ask him directly what he meant. Posted below are excerpts from his response. I wanted to share this just in case anyone else misunderstood his comments about cone beam. In the same way we hear different stories from patients about what went on at other offices they have been to, this was a great case where fact checking cleared up the jumbled message. I was pleased to hear a genuine response from someone who has always shown integrity and dedication in our profession, and who continues to do so.
Here's what Dr. Christensen had to say:
As is often the case, the practitioner distorted what I said. …you may Google my name and find numerous POSITIVE articles on cone beam that I have written. I have had cone beam in our two offices for about 4 years. HOWEVER, we have evaluated and compared several of the most popular brands, and they are very different one from the other. Some show suspect conditions that are NOT present. Some show caries where there is none. Some elongate and distort images. In other words, unless a practitioner…is willing to really compare the clinical images from the popular brands--slow down.
If they do those procedures*, they should at least find access to cone or potentially purchase one after diligent observation of the popular brands. If they do not, why get cone beam? Changes are coming constantly."
The best part of his advice is definitely in sync with the objectives at Dentalcompare: Not every product is right for every practice. Do your homework, and figure out if the product is right for you.
The Bottom Line: It is always good to go check in with your colleague directly with any questions you may have about something they may have said or their experience with a product you are considering. We are a relatively small industry, and can only benefit from assuming the best of our fellow clinicians and communicating openly.
The Other Bottom Line: Cone Beam is just simply amazing.
*The list of procedures Dr. Christensen mentioned in his reply was from his lecture at the ADA. The procedures include:
- Inferior alveolar nerve location
- Sinus location
- Odontogenic lesion location
- Trauma evaluation
- TMJ visualization
- Surgical guide construction
- CAD/CAM devices such as 3D orthodontic models
- And many others!