Orthopantograms, or OPGs, have many benefits and a huge number of uses. They are especially useful in the treatment and care of elderly patients, who will be a huge proportion of your caseload if not now, but in the future.
OPGs are a powerful tool to have at your disposal. They can give you information on periodontal bone loss, help find the source of pain, assist with the correct placement of implants and much more. Digital OPGs mean fewer repeat scans are needed, so less time and cost required, and also less exposure to radiation. Patients can usually understand a panoramic image more easily and they can be emailed to colleagues effortlessly.
These images are also invaluable when dealing with challenging cases, such as elderly patients. The number of older patients you will be treating in the future is growing – and fast. In 2012, the BDA published a review of its 2003 Oral Healthcare for Older People report which concluded that the ageing population was growing faster than had been originally predicted.
OPG scans are quick and comfortable. The detail means that you will be able to anticipate future complications. Caries, periodontal disease and recession of the gingiva can have devastating consequences as a patient gets older and can lead to life-threatening complications, such as cardiovascular problems and diabetes. Type-2 diabetes generally affects people over the age of 40, and oral health is a key component of diabetes management, so it’s a two-way relationship. If a patient has type-2 diabetes, they are also more likely to develop gingivitis, caries and xerostomia, too.
Setting up an OPG scan is quick, and OPGs can be used comfortably for elderly people who cannot open their mouths wide. Patients are usually asked to bite down on a spatula for about a minute while the machine moves around the head. A detailed, informative scan that won’t have to repeated and is easily explained will help you move forward with implementing an effective treatment plan with confidence.
If you do not have OPG technology, look carefully for the right referral partner. Work with a practice that not only has the latest OPG equipment in place, but that employs clinicians who can be trusted to work sensitively with older people and other vulnerable groups. The London Smile Clinic takes referrals, for example, and will meet all of these needs with ease and professionalism.
OPGs will help you deal with the enormous challenges ahead as you treat more elderly and vulnerable people. With a saturated market, and expensive technology that is developing fast, you don’t have to invest in new equipment. Referring out can be the perfect solution to provide the highest-quality care for these patient groups now, and in the future.
For more information, please contact The London Smile Clinic on 020 7255 2559 or visit www.londonsmile.co.uk.
 BDA. Oral healthcare for older people 2020 vision. Check-up January 2012. Found at https://www.bda.org/dentists/policy-campaigns/research/patient-care/Documents/older_adults_2012_checkup.pdf (accessed 7 July 2015)
 http://www.diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/What-is-diabetes/Related-conditions (accessed 7 July 2015)