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    17 technologies to embrace in 2017

    The tech you need to pay attention to next year.

    Back in the day, a trip to the dentist started with a friendly check-in with the receptionist (or even less personally by signing in on a check-in sheet), soon to be taken back to the operatory where the dental hygienist—paper file in hand—would look around the patient’s mouth with a hand mirror, possibly take some periapical X-rays, and pop out of the room to let the doctor know the patient was ready.

    Upon arrival, the doctor would check the patient file and start work in the patient’s mouth, possibly poking around with an explorer looking for caries or taking an impression with polyvinyl siloxane. Worst-case scenario: A dreaded shot of anesthetic was injected into the gums and work was begun. If endodontics were needed, a series of tiny files were necessary to complete the work properly.

    In 2017, many of those elements may still be present in the dental practice, but now digital check-in systems, electronic patient files, and digital X-rays usually welcome patients. Caries can be more reliably found with specialized equipment and, if work is needed, doctors supplant the polyvinyl siloxane with an intraoral scan. Anesthetic shots are eased with pain-free injections.

    Related reading: How technology is changing every part of the dental workflow

    We talked to the Dental Products Report advisory board about the 17 pieces of technology—some cutting-edge, some that might already be familiar—that doctors should consider for their practices in 2017. Here’s what they told us.

    Digital check-in

    Technology can benefit the practice the moment patients walk through the front door.

    Upon arriving at the practice, a patient with an appointment can check-in at a kiosk or on a tablet, alerting staff that they have arrived and are ready to be seen. Automated patient check-in streamlines the process, presenting the patient with the forms that he or she needs to fill out. The system can be used for new patients that have to create a new file along with their complaints and dental history. The patient can also use the kiosk to enter any information, including updating their medical history, entering contact information or updating insurance information. The data goes directly into the digital patient record and staff doesn’t waste time performing data entry.

    “It just streamlines things,” says John Flucke, DDS, Chief Dental Editor and Technology Editor for Dental Products Report. “It makes it easier for patients to check in. They can come in, sit down, check in on a computer or tablet and run through your forms, whether it’s a new patient that has to go through all of your forms or somebody that we’re just updating a health history.”

    Next page: Better caries detection and views of the patient's mouth ...

    Robert Elsenpeter
    Robert Elsenpeter is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics. He is also the author ...


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