Since this month is the 5th anniversary of the moment our practice switched over to digital radiography (and thank goodness we never have to endure the vinegary processing solutions again!), I thought it would be nostalgic to offer up this latest edition of Timewarp Tuesdays and honor The Cone.
Admit it, you can’t help but call the long cylindrical chunk of metal pointing out from your x-ray machine anything but a cone. Even though it probably wasn’t a cone when you were in dental school. It hasn’t been a cone for over 30 years. But maybe you’re old enough to remember a cone getting pointed at you when you were a kid, like I am.
Back in the early 70’s it was all about sleek and modern – there was something a little sexy about the cone, like it was one-half of a pointy brassiere aimed right next to your eye. A woman would cram something in your mouth, tilt the cone at your face and then leave the room for a moment, giving you time alone with it to contemplate its form and function, maybe try a little small talk with it.
Intriguing, this cone.
Come to find out, it was just a cheap plastic pointer, as exemplified in this advertisement from 1945:
See what I mean about the wistful gaze, our GI mesmerized by that white cone because it reminds him of a part of his sweetheart back home? You can click on him to get a better look at the advertising copy. And AHHHHH! Seriously? Pointing it RIGHT AT HIS CAJONES? We’ve come a long way since then.
Plaskon touted that its cones could withstand “…the terrific impact of X-rays which can disturb the molecular structure of many materials.” Many materials… like human flesh?
Apparently the reason that cones were phased out was because they were an impedance to radiation safety, and so they have since been replaced with the familiar long cylinder collimators. About the same time that the medical community figured out that scatter radiation was preventable, they also realized that imaging could be improved with focused beaming techniques. So the cone is gone, even though the name lives on.
And so to honor the history of dental radiography, I now present you with this Dental Radiographic Cone homage collage:
BZZT! ZAP! [sizzle] ffffphP. I can almost smell the singe of old wires firing up.