Dr. Bonne’s dental practice is located in Gent, Belgium in a fairly quiet and inconspicuous part of town. But little would one know that behind the solid, white door of the clinic, the future begins.
For the last 7 years, Dr. Bonne has been developing a dental setup that is as unique as it is unconventional.
New patients often notice that I’m not looking into their mouths. Then I need to explain that I am, but that instead of my eyes, I’m using a camera.
It all began when, after 12 years of active practice as a dentist, Dr. Bonne started suffering from severe back pain. Even though this is a common injury in the dental world, his problem became so serious that at one point he was given an ultimatum – quit dentistry or suffer debilitating, lifelong pain.
"New patients often notice that I’m not looking into their mouths. Then I need to explain that I am, but that instead of my eyes, I’m using a camera."
Luckily enough, while visiting the International Dental Show in Cologne, Dr. Bonne came across an intraoral camera which, he thought, might serve as a solution to his problems. The original product was a combination of a camera, an operating light and a computer. However, it was a piece of standalone equipment and he was already very satisfied with his existing XO 4 dental unit. As a result, there was no simple way of incorporating the camera into his dental office.
The situation called for extraordinary actions – he would need to carefully customize his XO unit and other equipment in order to incorporate the new camera. One of the biggest challenges was to put everything together so that the various elements would not conflict or collide. To resolve this, he calculated the positioning of the XO unit’s equipment arms to the last centimeter and installed the camera on the ceiling. In the process, Dr. Bonne even cut his dental cabinets to accommodate computer screens and other dental equipment.
I didn’t want to add more foot controlers, cables or motors. I really like it when everything is integrated. I’m also not afraid to cut my furniture and modify it myself, because once I’m happy with my setup, I can always renovate the office using computer-ready solutions. Most importantly, I always strive to have better ergonomics.
Dr. Bonne’s XO 4 does not have an operating lamp since there is one in the camera already. He also skipped the cuspidor to create more space and a more hygienic working environment. Fortunately, the proper use of the XO 4 suction system eliminates the need for a cuspidor.
After testing three generations of cameras, Dr. Bonne now uses one that shows and records the image in almost HD quality. In order to navigate through his computer systems, such as the patient management system, intraoral scanner or XO Smart Link, he uses both a trackpad and the unit screen. His assistant uses a second screen, located behind Dr. Bonne’s back. In this way they can both see the same thing and work in an ergonomic, efficient way.
This is, of course a 2D system. You can compare it to working with one eye. Therefore, you have to compensate for the lack of a third dimension through a mirror and your sense of touch.
I position my camera to the side and I move my mirror a little bit during a treatment, which gives me a better feeling of the third dimension... The contrast in the camera is really great and you can clearly see if there is any decay left. Moreover, the camera doesn’t show spray water during drilling or when using laser. You can see things better than with your own eyes.
"...the camera doesn’t show spray water during drilling or when using laser. You can see things better than with your own eyes."
Right now, I still haven’t found a 3D system that works to a standard I find usable. And personally, all 3D systems I’ve used so far have made me dizzy. I can’t imagine working the whole day using it. I think that good contrast and shadows in your camera are much more important than 3D.
Dr. Bonne knew that what he was doing was quite new and challenging for traditional dental practices. Yet it helped him save his professional career, so he started sharing the idea with other dentists.
I invited my colleagues to my practice a few times and presented my setup to them. It was a lot of fun. Nobody had ever realized that it was possible. It’s clear to see that my body is very relaxed when I work – I don’t get any strains.
And the setup doesn’t force you to use it all the time. I can always switch to looking directly into the patient’s mouth whenever I want. It isn’t as easy when you, for example, use a microscope – you always have to move it out of the way before you can continue.
According to Dr. Bonne, the integration of the dental unit, camera and workflow is the key to the future of dental treatments. And that future, for him, is quite clear – no more bending over in order to look into the patient’s mouth!