Magnification in dentistry

Why is it important?

You can’t treat, diagnose, or understand what you can’t see!   More magnification makes almost everything done in dentistry better.  In this post I show the research into what exactly is improved with dental magnification.  Some aspects of dentistry are much more dependent on magnification than others, for instance endodontics is very reliant on increased magnification.  Some aspects of dentistry are actually performed at a lower magnification than the operator has access to, but the higher magnification improves the operators visual acuity.

When talking magnification in dentistry we are generally talking about one of two things.  Dental loupes are worn as glasses and have a fixed range from 2.5-8x, while a dental microscope is an actual microscope placed on an operating arm over the patient and has multiple magnifications in the ranges from 2-40x.  Having a microscope is not common-place in most phases of dentistry today, endodontics being the exception, but more and more are using.   Most dentists today will use eyeglass (dental loupe) magnification with ranges of 2.5-8x.  I personally have used 2.5x, 3.5x, 4.5x, and currently use 6.0x.

dental loupes

Dr. Bryan Bauer wearing his 6.0x dental loupes and his older 4.5x

Orthodontics

Endodontics

  • Huge improvement in finding small canals of teeth needing root canals.  MB2 canals are located 71% with microscopes 4x-30x, 63% with dental loupes 2x-6x, and only 17% without.
  • It is my personal belief that there is little to be gained after 4.5x in percentages of canals found.  This may agree with the above study as the small difference may be accounted for by both using 2x and 3.5x and the fact the light on the scope is 2-3x as bright.  Light also helps in location of canals. Buhrley 2002 JOE

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