The end of the film panorex is finally upon us. Most panorex manufacturers no longer sell film pans and aside from retrofits and phosphor plate systems the film panorex has reached the end of its product life cycle. The digital panorex has finally reached full maturity and has taken over the market based on its lower operational costs and increased diagnostic quality. The market has broken roughly into three categories. The entry level Panorex, the mid-level and the 3D upgradeable units. Typically the entry level doesn’t have the ability to add feature such as Ceph arms, TMJ, Tomographic and 3D capabilities. The mid-level will add the ability to make more custom settings for items like TMJ, sinus and bite-wings within the Pan’s interface. Most mid-level Pans also give the ability to add Ceph arms. The highest level pans allow for sensor upgrades to full 3d CBCT acquisition. Of course this all varies by brand and each manufacturer has slightly different configurations and options.
I tend to like the brands that have been around for a long time, like Planmeca, Sirona, and Sordex/Instrumentarium to name a few. These units tend to be more reliable and have a tradition of customer service and parts availability that make them very easy to troubleshoot and fix. I also see most R&D in these companies both in 2D and 3D imaging. This assures that if you are looking at an upgrade path that these units will have a higher probability of being upgradable in the future.
Digital Pans have proven to be one of the best investments both from a financial and diagnostic standpoint. A digital panorex can really change the work flow of an office to give a more complete radiographic exam with a pan and four bite-wings. The increased resolution and sensitivity of modern digital panorex far exceeds the quality of older film units. This along with their almost negligible marginal cost of operation makes them a very valuable tool in almost any dental office. I typically look at these purchases with a 20 year time frame. Because the capital expense will be spread over such a long time a small difference in price from one manufacturer to the next is really less important as getting the features and quality that you desire. I truly believe there should be a digital panorex in every dental practice.
Clay Archer, MBA, MCP
President & CEO