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Intraoral cameras boast improved imaging capability, connectivity

Intraoral cameras have new features such as display panels and storage options for streamlining dental procedures.

China suppliers of intraoral cameras are enhancing user convenience and product precision via hardware and software upgrades. Among the improvements are built-in LCDs and better image sensors, all in compact constructions. Wireless connectivity is also increasingly enabled to facilitate file transfer. These advancements aim to benefit dental practitioners and patients alike.

Wireless intraoral camera
Mident’s wireless intraoral camera’s handpiece uses a ¼in Sony Super HAD CCD sensor.

In the wake of models with displays and data storage, connection to external screens and devices has become dispensable in many units, allowing dentists to move more freely. Such releases cover handpieces with built-in LCDs, and those with both screens and docks. Most of former units can accommodate SD cards. Intraoral cameras under this category run on electricity or rechargeable batteries for a cordless operation. The latter alternatives are priced $160 higher.

Versions with USB and SD card readers are some of the best-sellers from Mident Industrial Co. Ltd.

Handpieces boasting LCDs and docks may be attached to computers or larger screens on request. Docks with built-in displays have video output, USB capability and VGA resolution. The panels measure 5in and raise prices by $200.

Among the makers offering wired and wireless handpieces are Meditech Equipment Co. Ltd and Mident. The two provide options with SD cards that hold up to 500 pictures.

A few handpieces boast internal storage as well. An example from Meditech has a capacity of 100 images.

Several docks can display pictures from the negatives digitally via X-ray film holders.

Some intraoral cameras without LCDs enable wireless connectivity, which adds $100 to prices. They also pack SD cards and slots in docks. The portable storage can hold up to 500 images with time and date stamps, and augments prices by $70 to $80.

In improving maneuverability, suppliers are launching compact units that increase patients' comfort as well. Handpieces from You Nikang Inc., for instance, feature 7.6mm-thick probes, making them easier to control inside the mouth. The distance of only 7.5mm between the lens and the tip allows for more detailed images. Since this area is usually 11 to 13mm long, the company's specifications are said to be among the thinnest and smallest available.

The dimensions of intraoral cameras are greatly dependent on the image sensor. Compact constructions from You Nikang are made possible with the use of EU-sourced CCD variants designed specially for satellite photography and low-light application. This also enables the units' four white LEDs to deliver the same results as eight bulbs, rendering up to 4MP pictures. Further, the manufacturer employs 0.02mm-thin filmlike gaskets between four optical resin lenses in the product to achieve a slim design. Typically, these sealants come in metal and are thicker.

Such CCD sensors have a higher resolution and are more compact than the Sony alternatives that a number of makers utilize. They are $10 costlier than the widely adopted option.

While You Nikang can develop probes thinner than 5mm, creating a new mold is expensive, manager Zhiqiang Chen said. The company will therefore defer releasing units this small when it launches a line of 3D intraoral cameras in June.

To complement hardware improvements, suppliers are refining the programs that come with their models. Among the popular inclusions are data applications for dental records, which make it easier for doctors to pull up patients' information. You Nikang is developing voice command software for handpieces with USB to let dentists operate away from the workstation. Meanwhile, speech-to-text converters can transcribe consultations or dialogues between the patient and dentist.

Upgrading features consistently is one way for companies to remain profitable since prices decrease as the models become outdated. For instance, handpieces without LCDs but featuring USB were popular in previous months. The units require a computer for displaying, storing and editing images. Meanwhile, options comprising docks and handpieces need separate monitors. Although the former is still available, it has been relegated to the low end.

Most companies have been exporting the line for three to five years, catering mainly to the US, Europe, the Middle East and India.

Intraoral camera selection
Product gallery

Intraoral camera
The MDT168 model from Meditech uses a ¼in CMOS sensor.
Intraoral camera selection

Dominating China's output of intraoral cameras are handpieces and docks with USB interface and VGA output, respectively.

A number of docks are equipped with various combinations of USB, video and VGA capability. Versions boasting all three may also provide S-Video transmission. About $30 is added to prices per connectivity type. Each option uses a 1/4in image sensor and four to six white LEDs. The units enable auto-focus and a viewing angle of 70 degrees.

Most intraoral cameras employ Sony CCD sensors. The resolution ranges from 800,000 pixels to 2MP. A few makers offer up to 3MP, which raises prices by 20 percent.

Models utilizing locally sourced CMOS sensors producing 3MP images are also available. These go for $45 less than intraoral alternatives equipped with Sony CCD variants.

Many releases can switch between single and quad-split displays, and have docks with built-in storage. The capacity is five, eight or 28 images. In quad-split display, this can increase to 20, 32 or 112 pictures, respectively.

A number of products boast video capture capability, which is particularly useful when the USB cables are not long enough to connect the dock to the computer.

Some versions come with an infrared remote control, a handpiece holder that shuts off automatically, and a foot pedal for switching between displays and pausing the video feed. The first two accessories have function keys.

CE certification is widely obtained. Since buyers do not often require FDA approval, it is rarely secured. Several clients initiate the testing instead.

Low-end intraoral cameras are priced between $90 and $150. Such models do not have docks. The handpieces are equipped with a CMOS or CCD sensor, a mini LCD and an SD card slot. These can also connect to the computer via USB.

Midrange releases include docks with USB connectors, and support video output and VGA resolution. Some incorporate SD card slots. Cordless handpieces run on rechargeable batteries and accommodate SD cards. Both variants use a CMOS or CCD sensor. Prices range from $160 to $300.

Models in the high end go for above $300. These utilize CCD sensors. The types and features are similar to versions in the midrange segment, but all upscale intraoral cameras with docks connect wirelessly to handpieces.

Intraoral cameras price guide

Intraoral camera
Product gallery

Meditech Equipment Co. Ltd

Model: MDT168
MOQ: 5 units
Delivery: 15 days
Description: ¼in CMOS sensor; 3MP; dock with SD card that saves up to 500 images; LCD; X-ray film reader; VGA, USB, video output; wireless connection

Intraoral camera

Meditech Equipment Co. Ltd

Model: MDU-10X-OC
MOQ: 5 units
Delivery: 15 days
Description: ¼in Sony Super HAD CCD; 810MP; single and quad split display; dock can save up to five images; VGA, USB; foot controller to freeze image

Intraoral camera

Mident Industrial Co. Ltd

Model: MC-10
MOQ: 5 units
Delivery: 3 days
Description: ¼in Sony Super HAD CCD; 5in LCD monitor and X-ray film reader on dock; SD cards on dock and handpiece save up to 500 and 100 images, respectively; six white LEDs; USB, VGA; wireless operation optional; over- and reverse-voltage protection

Intraoral camera

Mident Industrial Co. Ltd

Model: MC-04
MOQ: 5 units
Delivery: 3 days
Description: ¼in Sony Super HAD CCD; handpiece with LCD and five function buttons; USB, VGA, video output; wireless connection

Intraoral camera

Mident Industrial Co. Ltd

Model: MC-09
MOQ: 5 units
Delivery: 3 days
Description: ¼in CMOS; 3MP, 500x582 pixels; 2.5in LCD; six white LEDs; TransFlash card saves up to 500 images; rechargeable lithium battery; USB-powered SD card reader and 8.5V charger included

Note:This article was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.

All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.

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