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    The future of digital dentistry

    Dr. Lou Shuman and Marty Jablow, DMD, discuss where digital dentistry is headed—and what it means for dental practices.

    Each month, Dr. Lou Shuman consults with a dental technology specialist to discuss the latest developments in digital dentistry, data security, social media trends, SEO strategies, website optimization, online reputation management, marketing and more. 

    This month, Dr. Shuman sat down with Marty Jablow, DMD to discuss the future of digital dentistry, and how it will affect dental practice workflows and diagnostics.Where is digital dentistry heading in the dental office in 2017?

    The progression continues. Front office staff are still migrating to the paperless office but are now incorporating many more online digital technologies. We’ve gone from just reminders to online reputation management, reviews and overall office efficiencies and production goals. The back office continues to evolve with patient treatment enhancements, such as digital caries detection and diagnostic devices, to digital impressions, CAD/CAM and 3D printing.

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    Where should dental practice front offices be right now with their digital workflow?

    Digital workflow for the front office is really about efficiency. What we need to do is increase the efficiencies so we don’t do work that bogs down the front office. The easiest examples are online reminders for patients about their appointments. But, we need to incorporate other things such as digital delivery of new patient documents, since we know how many times that new patient visit gets delayed because the patient needs to fill out paperwork. Then we have the transcription issue from paper to digital to get the information into the computer. Scanning documents into the practice management software reduces the wasteful time of filing papers into charts. 

    The biggest detriment for change in the front office is shaking off “we always did it that way” mentality. There are so many technologies to make the front office much more efficient but dental staff and the dentist may be getting in their own way. Go online and see what other offices are doing in the move towards the paperless office. You need to take the baby steps which many of already done by incorporating digital radiography now it’s just about the chart notes. The most underutilized asset in a dental office is the practice management software. Find ways to maximize its use.

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    What’s new in digital dentistry diagnostics?

    Digital diagnostics continues to grow. Digital radiography is now mainstream, and about 80 percent of the offices in the US have gone digital. Caries diagnostics continue to evolve with various devices making caries easier to monitor and diagnose. 3D imaging is gaining ground in the GP dental offices. The prices have come down and we see a lot more competition in this space. 

    We are seeing greater adoption as we are finding more uses for this diagnostic information. CBCT is not just for 3rd molar removal; it has evolved into a tremendous way to plan implants, examine teeth with endodontic problems, and assist in orthodontics and sleep apnea treatment. Intraoral scanners are now being used as part of the diagnostics. Being able to merge CBCT Dicom sets with intraoral scanning STL file scans allow more precise implant and orthodontic planning. We can now see what effects our treatment can have on the TMJ before we start treatment restoring arches.

    The more information we acquire and the greater the data set for each patient, the better treatment planning. The better we treatment plan the more predictable our outcomes will be.

     

    Next: What's next for the digital dentistry workflow?

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