Periodontal disease is highly prevalent in America, affecting 50% of those over the age of 30. Traditional treatment methods include blind cleanings in which the dentist or dental hygienist scrapes below the gum-line, unable to see if they have removed all the plaque. If this method is unsuccessful the next step is flap surgery done by a periodontist. This a painful and costly procedure involving cutting the gums, pulling a flap down and cleaning the teeth. Then the flap is stitched back in place. The procedure usually involves several days of recovery and opioid prescriptions for pain management. Unsurprisingly many patients, when referred to a periodontist for this procedure, don’t go through with it, resulting in 25% of adults over 65 losing all their teeth.
Michael Austin, CEO of PerioEndoscopy, is determined to change these facts and remove the need for flap surgery all together.
PerioEndoscopy, an Arizona-based company and GlobalMed partner, developed a new method and tool as an alternative to flap surgery: Visual Scaling and Root Planing (Visual SRPSM). This procedure uses a micro-endoscope that fits beneath the gum-line along with the scaling tool so a hygienist can actually see where they are cleaning. No more blind cleanings and no need for flap surgery. The hygienist performs the procedure with the help of DeVA-1™, PerioEndoscopy’s latest dental system. DeVA-1 is a mobile cart that includes a tablet to display the view of the micro-endoscope clearly for the hygienist. The cart is flexible and allows for an ergonometric workflow; the tablet can be moved and positioned any way the hygienist wants.
Austin states this system will change the way dentistry is done and there may no longer be a need for flap surgery. The benefits to the patient are clear. An active duty military member, for example, wouldn’t have to spend days upon days recovering from a painful procedure.
“Active duty members could be out of the chair and immediately back to work,” said Austin. “This more efficient system would improve active duty member’s ability and capacity to serve and not leave them out of commission during recovery.”
Beyond Visual SRP, Austin explains that the DeVA-1 and micro-endoscope have secondary uses. For example, in recent years, many people have turned to getting implants to avoid the possibility of dentures down the line. One problem with the implant process is the dentists can’t see underneath the implant to make sure there is no glue line. A glue line with implants is a magnet for bacteria due to its very porous qualities. In fact, almost 60% of implant failures are due to a glue line infection. DeVA-1 can solve this problem by allowing the dentist to see any glue lines under the implants and remove them prior to any infections.
“Our goal is to cause Visual SRP and its equipment to be as ubiquitous a drill in every dentist office,” stated Austin.
Telemedicine and Dentistry
To better serve the dental field, PerioEndoscopy has partnered with GlobalMed to incorporate our eNcounter software within the DeVA-1 so a hygienist can connect with a remote dentist or periodontist during a procedure. The dentist can see what the hygienist is seeing with the micro-endoscope and offer consultation advice in real time. This is especially beneficial to hygienists serving rural communities. In some areas, only a hygienist is available but with the help of GlobalMed’s eNcounter software and the DeVA-1, the hygienist can consult with a dentist immediately.
“Partnering with GlobalMed will help us develop a message of the overall benefits of telemedicine in dentistry,” said Austin. “We want to improve the standard or care and promote a more collaborative environment.”