Using video technology to improve everyday dentistry

July 23, 2018

How the proCam and microCam from Futudent can be used to improve workflows and enhance patient education.

When it comes to video in the dental practice, most dental professionals associate it with educational purposes. Lars Kåhre, CEO of Futudent, wants to change that. Kåhre, along with his team at Futudent, would like to see all dental professionals using video in their day-to-day workflow.

“A lot of people think that video cameras are only for educators and the top key opinion leaders who use the videos for doing presentations and speeches. Our approach from the beginning is how video technology can help everyday dentistry,” Kåhre explains.

Earlier this year, Futudent announced two new cameras. The proCam is a miniature 4K (3840x2160@30 fps/ 13Mpix stills) dental camera. Designed to be mounted on loupes or chair lights, the proCam weighs 26 grams and captures video and still photography without interrupting the procedure. The 4k resolution allows the dental professional to zoom in for close-up video or photography from the chair light.

The new microCam weighs 18 grams. Designed for all-day loupe-mounted POV filming, the microCam delivers HD (1080p@30 fps/ 2Mpx stills) images from its professional Sony IMX sensor. These two new products join the eduCam dental video technology.

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Futudent features integrated hardware, software and cloud storage with its cameras. Kåhre and his team focus on how video communication can enhance the workflow for dental professionals, including:

• Improving their documentation and communication;
• Showing patients areas of concern and discussing treatment options;
• Educating patients on how to improve their oral hygiene;
• Increasing communication with the lab.

The Futudent concept started in 2006 when Kåhre’s friend, Peter Rusanen, graduated from dental school. In Finland, dentists work in a public clinic when they begin practicing. Dr. Rusanen saw patients every 30 minutes and he quickly realized nobody was watching over his shoulder advising him anymore.

Dr. Rusanen asked Kåhre if he could film video dental procedures as he worked. Dr. Rusanen wanted to share his videos with more experienced colleagues to get advice on how to improve. However, there was no technology for that at the time.

However, in 2010, Kåhre started a project with the Helsinki University of Technology and the Helsinki University of Oral Health. “We aimed to research how modern video technology could help the workflow of dental practices and clinics,” Kåhre says.

The team discovered two problems. First, most dentists are dentists, not videographers, and they can’t focus on filming while treating patients. Dental professionals needed easy-to-use video technology.

Kåhre wanted the camera to capture whatever the dentist was doing. “This turned out to be trickier than we thought. It’s very tricky filming inside the mouth from outside of the mouth while somebody is working,” Kåhre says.

Kåhre and his team decided to affix the camera to the loupes to capture what the dentist sees or in the dental light to capture where the light is shining. They struggled with magnifications from the camera’s position, but over the years, the technology improved and allowed for that.

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The second problem was even more significant than the first. How would dentists use the video without editing the files? Kåhre and his team developed software that handles editing for them. The dental professional needs only to capture the stills or videos with the press of a foot pedal.

“The dentist doesn’t need to know if the file is 10 MB or 2 GB. Everything is handled by software easily and you can share it through a secure cloud service, or you can send it to the patient,” Kåhre says. “When the patient leaves the clinic, they already have an email with a link to the video file where the doctor is explaining things.”

The software can also share the files with a secure cloud service as easily as sending an email. Since the data is encrypted, the system is HIPPA compliant.

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“When the doctors have filmed something, the only thing they need to do is ask the patient for their email address,” Kåhre says.

Intraoral cameras can also take photographs inside the mouth, but the dentist must stop and get the camera ready, which could take several minutes per photo. Plus, they still must transfer the files to the computer and the patient management files. Kåhre says that the microCam and proCam take 0.5 seconds with each patient to take a still, making it a much faster way to communicate with a patient or lab technician.

“Whenever you want a picture of something or a film, you can press the foot pedal and continue what you are doing. Because our technology records the voice, you can say, ‘Okay, here’s the problem. You can see the crack.’ You can show everything, take pictures with the foot control and continue working,” Kåhre explains.

Dr. Rusanen is now a prosthodontist, and he uses Futudent’s cameras for every patient as well as communication with the lab. Previously, he spent 10 to 15 minutes collecting pictures and sending an email explaining what he wants. Then, he would still have to call the technician to describe it.

“And now, it’s a two-minute film saying, ‘Hey, here is his smile. Here is soft tissue. This gap is 8mm, and this color is A2.’ The technician has a much better understanding of the whole situation,” Kåhre says.

In more than half of the cases, Kåhre says that Dr. Rusanen has one less visit per patient for new crowns. Technicians also like when he films and shares the patient’s reaction to the crown, so the technician can see the final product.

Kåhre explains videos promote transparency and patient compliance. “In 2010, a lot of dentists thought their patients didn’t want to see the pictures, the procedures or anything. They were totally wrong,” Kåhre says. “Involving them in the treatment is helping to get patient compliance even for more expensive procedures, like a crown or implant.”

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Video is also useful for pediatric dentistry. When kids come in with grandparents because their parents are working, the doctor can share the video with the parents.

Kåhre says the cameras are in 60 to 70 countries and Futudent is the market leader of 60 to 70 percent of the global market. Kåhre believes with the price point and the benefits the cameras generate, the cameras will be as familiar to the dental practice as loupes are today.

“With our camera technology integrated into the lights and the loupes, it’s so easy to use,” Kåhre says. “We predict that in five or six years, this will be a common technology in 80 percent of the clinics.”