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    Technology seems scary — but better results are worth it

    Getting into the latest technologies can seem overwhelming, but the results speak for themselves.

    As dentistry and technology evolve, we as practitioners of this art and science are benefitting tremendously. I consider myself extremely lucky in this regard for the simple fact that even, before the intertwining of technology and dentistry, I was a tech lover and looked upon technology as my hobby.

    That simple lucky break put me in the right place at the right time as the tech sector exploded. Because of that, I was early in the adoption curve simply because I was fascinated and intrigued about the possibilities of merging my career and my hobby.

    However, even for a diehard technophile like me, there have been times when a new device or technique comes along that makes me hesitate and evaluate adoption. As regular readers of this column will know, I’m a big fan of cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) for a lot of reasons.

    Xray machineHowever, one of the biggest reasons I became involved with the technology is implants. Somewhere around 2007-2009 I decided to learn about implants. Up to that point, I had always considered implants in the realm of the specialist. I was restoring quite a few, but the actual placement was something I considered better left to others.

    However, my investment in CBCT had started me down a rabbit hole of insatiable knowledge about 3D and the more I learned, the more I was seeing what an incredible role CBCT was playing in implant placement. For the longest time, implants seemed (to me) to be about 20 percent science and 80 percent art.

    Now don’t get me wrong, the practitioner certainly needed to know all the surgical principles both in setup and delivery. However, the nuances of the X, Y and Z axes was the part that befuddled me and made this much more about talent than technique. Being a few degrees off in X and/or Y can be the difference between long-term success and failure of the implant; while being off a small amount in Z (depth) can end up with the implant in the sinus or the inferior alveolar canal.

    I know for those of you who place implants on a regular basis that it normally is a pretty straightforward and easy process. I think what happened to me was that in all of my interactions with experts in surgery and 3D, I had seen so many images of cases that had gone tragically wrong that I became hesitant to jump in with minimal experience. It’s probably the curse of being “The Technology Evangelist.”

    Related article: How technology is changing the implant workflow

    Because of my exposure to so many experts, I had seen a plethora of cases with bad outcomes that my expert friends had been brought in to try and save. This most likely gave me the unfortunate perception that mistakes were common.

    Yet, I think it’s human nature to assume that something you don’t know how to do is much more complicated than it sometimes is. There’s also the potential of legal ramifications when dealing with any type of medical/dental procedure. That potential is always something lingering in the back of a practitioner’s mind whenever he or she begins to learn and practice a new procedure. I’m confident that many of you have those same feelings.

    Dr. John Flucke
    Dr. John Flucke is in private practice in Lee’s Summit, Mo. He also serves as technology editor for Dental Products Report magazine and ...

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