Streamlining specialist orthodontic services with an on-site cone beam CT scan service
During the past 12 years, specialist orthodontist, Dr Darin Ballard, and his wife and fellow specialist orthodontist, Dr Teriko Rex, have established a chain of four successful orthodontic practices in Sydney and regional New South Wales.
Passionate about the use of technology, Dr Ballard says his four practices use state-of-the-art technology that provides patients with “a fully digital treatment experience”. This includes the use of on-site cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) imaging, which is an important tool used to diagnose patients and inform treatment plans.
With such diverse geographic locations, providing clinical services to patients and managing logistics, involves regular travel.
To ensure clinic operations run smoothly, and to minimise time away from Sydney, Dr Ballard says a key business focus is sourcing the best available orthodontic technologies, which allow him to maintain a high standard of patient care and comfort while also improving efficiencies, workflows, and treatment times.
“Travelling every week certainly has its challenges, and there are a lot of logistical considerations,” said Dr Ballard. “That’s why we always work really hard on improving efficiencies by looking at all our systems and equipment to help us save time.”
The product solution
For more than 12 years, Dr Ballard has used NewTom’s cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) solutions in his orthodontic practice.
Dr Ballard recently took delivery of his fourth NewTom CBCT unit at his regional Port Macquarie practice: The NewTom VGi-EVO replaces Dr Ballard’s first VGi unit, which was installed in 2009 and provided faultless service and high scan volumes.
Since that time, Dr Ballard and Dr Rex have also purchased two more NewTom VGi-EVO units for their Sydney clinics in Lane Cove and Hunters Hill.
The NewTom VGi-EVO enables Dr Ballard to perform patient CBCT scans quickly and easily on site. NewTom technology provides the safest, highest quality and most practical 3D dental and medical imaging available today.
Cone Beam imaging for the maxillofacial and ENT region enables orthodontists, as well as implant specialists, ENTs, and maxillofacial surgeons, to use three-dimensional imaging as a critical diagnostic and treatment planning tool.
"I think NewTom is the best equipment in Australia,” said Dr Ballard. “We operate a digital practice with technology that has to run smoothly, save time, and integrate seamlessly with all our systems. The NewTom does all those things and it contributes to running an efficient practice and an efficient practice means we can achieve more, in less time.”
How the technology works
Digital radiographic imaging has become one of the most important components in today’s dental and medical practices, and CBCT is the most important new technology to emerge in the imaging industry during the past decade.
High quality 3D images: NewTom VGi-EVO CBCT technology can capture, in a single 18-second scan, a series of 360 images and store them as information in a digital database on a computer hard drive. NewTom’s software then reconstructs 3D images, including primary reconstruction images in multiple planes, from the captured data, providing the highest quality images possible for use in diagnosis and treatment planning.
The NewTom VGi-EVO utilises a flat panel x-ray detector, meaning extremely crisp and sharp images. And while bone and tooth structure remain the most important components for diagnosis and treatment planning, the NewTom VGi also provides excellent soft tissue imaging.
Large field of view: The 240x190mm field of view, coupled with the very small 0.3mm focal spot of the NewTom VGi means that the highest quality images can be acquired and reconstructed with great accuracy.
High speed: The volume of image data captured is also kept to a minimum. This translates into very short image reconstruction times, generally averaging about 60 seconds, and economical disk drive usage, since after the scan and reconstruction are complete, the raw data is no longer required and is automatically deleted from the hard drive, saving valuable disk space.
Low-dose radiation: The NewTom VGi-EVO employs Safe Beam technology, which means that it automatically adjusts the radiation dosage according to the patient’s age and size. This technology utilises intermittent bursts of radiation only milliseconds in duration during image acquisition, and not the constant radiation stream typical of many other CBCT imaging products. Patients’ exposure to radiation is in most cases significantly less than that of competing systems. Children, for example, receive up to 40% less radiation than adults during a typical scan.
NewTom’s Safe Beam image acquisition is the proven safe technology available today, for both patients and the dental team.
Compact design: Because the NewTom VGi-EVO is an upright scanning system with no fixed seating, it provides unparalleled patient accessibility, including wheelchair accessibility. The system’s seating flexibility means that adults and children can be readily accommodated. In addition, since it looks very much like a panoramic unit, the NewTom VGi-EVO provides an important level of comfort and familiarity for patients.
On-site cone beam CT scans improve workflows
Dr Ballard has installed the NewTom VGi-EVO in each of his four practices, which has resulted in “dramatically improved workflows”: Instead of sending patients off site for a scan and waiting days or weeks for a follow-up patient visit, Dr Ballard and his team can perform all CBCT scans on site, and complete initial patient engagements in one visit.
It takes only seconds for the machine to capture the CBCT images and Dr Ballard says he has the flexibility to adjust the processing wait time, depending on the image quality he requires for each case.
“My patients can come here, have the scan on site and we can provide an answer within minutes. They can receive a diagnosis in one day and the patient leaves the clinic fully educated about their treatment plan and at minimal cost to them in terms of time, energy and effort.”
Easy and safe to use
The NewTom VGi-EVO takes only minutes to create a high-resolution 3D digital model of a patient, which can be viewed on screen and easily manipulated by the orthodontist, enhancing diagnoses and treatment planning. The scan is saved as a small file which can be accessed on a regular PC.
Dr Ballard says it is also an excellent visual tool to help inform patients of the diagnosis and treatment.
And, the NewTom VGi-EVO’s Safe Beam technology automatically adjusts to patient size and age, minimising the radiation dose for both patients and staff.
“Of course, you always want to minimise doses of radiation as much as possible, and this machine ticks the box: NewTom is at the forefront of low-dose radiation technology.”
Improves orthodontic services
Dr Ballard says the detailed information that NewTom technology generates, helps make him, and his colleagues, better orthodontists.
“It’s making us better because we are able to see more things with NewTom, and that means we are able to make better clinical decisions based on this information. Invariably, I would say NewTom is making every decision better.”
Integration with workplace systems
The NewTom VGi-EVO integrates seamlessly with the Dolphin practice management system Dr Ballard uses in his clinics.
“And because the machinery links straight into Dolphin, it has made the process super easy. When staff are using the system, you don’t want it to be too time consuming or difficult or prone to error or unstable.”
Compact design that’s appropriate for orthodontic practices
Thanks to the compact and the sleek design of the NewTom VGi-EVO, Dr Ballard says he has been able to install the machine at each of his four premises.
“The machines are Italian designed, so they also look good. They are not large and overbearing like some other machines – the design is nice and practical.
“This machine is the Ferrari of cone beams: it’s neat, tidy, clean, fast, easy, and provides super performance.”
Crisp images and large field of view
The NewTom VGi-EVO utilises a flat panel x-ray detector, meaning extremely crisp and sharp images, as well as excellent soft tissue imaging. It also provides a large 240 x 90mm field of view.
“From a technical level, the NewTom ticks all the boxes for high resolution and for large field of view,” said Dr Ballard.
“Large field of view for orthodontics is of course very important because we want to see how the bones of the face interact with each other for proportions and that’s why a large field of view is great for us.
“For orthodontics, it’s nice to be able to put the smile in the face that’s on the head, so the more information we have, the better judgements we can make … a large field of view makes that possible.”
Conversely, if only a small field of view is required, Dr Ballard says he can easily adjust the NewTom settings accordingly.
Inline technical support
From installing the NewTom VGi-EVO equipment and integrating it with the practice management system, to helping trouble-shoot any issues that arise, Dr Ballard says the Inline support team has made the transition to his new equipment, seamless.
“A high level of service is vital, and this is what makes Inline stand out from the others,” said Dr Ballard. “They know how important technical support is. Over the years, the equipment has had negligible downtime and that’s testament to Inline and the way they organise their maintenance and upgrades. Their systems are well and truly first class.”
The overall verdict
So, what is Dr Ballard’s overall verdict on the NewTom VGi-EVO?
“I think it’s the best equipment in Australia,” said Dr Ballard. “I’d give the machine an A+. Actually, it’s a double A+. There is absolutely no downside to using the NewTom.
“If you’re considering the purchase of one, do it; just do it. It’s worth every cent.”