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5 amazing dental technologies you should be using every day [VIDEO]

Dental Products ReportDental Products Report-2013-10-01
Issue 10

Are you taking technology for granted? Here’s a break down of technology that can help improve your practice and why you should be using it if you’re not already.

Are you taking technology for granted? Here’s a break down of technology that can help improve your practice and why you should be using it if you’re not already.

I was thinking the other day about change. Well, heck, I’m always thinking about change. After all, that’s what I do here, right? However, this time it really sort of hit home for me. I was thinking about my “new” office. In December, I will have been in the “new” facility for six years. That means I moved into the new place in 2007! 2007???

That’s right, 2007. That’s the year that Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone, Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize and the last book in the Harry Potter series was published! So with all of that nostalgia rattling around in my brain, I decided to take a look at some of the technology we have available to us that we, perhaps, take for granted.

For this article, let’s take a walk down memory lane and think about some of the amazing devices we use (or should be using) every day.

1. Computers

First and foremost is the operatory computer. If you have not yet brought computers into the operatory, what are you waiting for? In addition to all the efficiency it adds to delivering dental care, the computer also creates an amazing patient experience.

We use the computer to deliver Guru patient education, stream in music via Pandora or iHeart radio, watch TV (via cable TV connected to the computer), show movies during long procedures, and some patients even play computer-based games!

2. Digital cameras

You can see so much with a good digital SLR camera. Even for procedures such as before-and-after whitening shots, a digital camera is a must-have. Using one to capture a standard series of shots of every new patient is quick and easy.

Digital SLRs are not expensive and provide many benefits. If you think they are difficult to use, remember there are companies that will set them up for you and make them practically “point and shoot,” with incredible color and resolution. If you think downloading the photos is too time consuming, buy an Eye-Fi SD card that will automatically transfer your pictures to your computer over your wireless network. Incredible!

3. Intraoral cameras

Intraoral cameras are truly one of the “unsung” heroes of the dental office. Ours is sleeved and ready to go for every procedure and every hygiene visit. Taking a before, mid-treatment, and after photo on every case provides a complete visual history of your patient and the procedures you’ve performed.

It also allows you fast and easy ways to educate patients on why procedures are necessary and helps justify treatment to third-party payers. Considering how affordable these devices have become, I suggest putting one in every operatory. With hard drive space so plentiful, there’s no reason not to take lots of pictures every day.

One other advantage is an intraoral camera’s value in case of a lawsuit. As Peer Review Chairman for the state of Missouri, I can tell you that meticulous record-keeping, good documentation and photos help show clinical situations clearly and without misunderstandings. They are also invaluable tools in helping patients make informed decisions.

4. Digital radiography

The latest stats I’ve seen indicate that somewhere between 50 and 60 percent of dentists are using digital x-ray. I feel all the arguments about how digital is inferior to film have been pretty much put to rest.

Digital, at its bare minimum, is at least equal to film. When you begin to factor in all the other advantages-such as lower radiation dose (patient safety), better for the environment (greener), more efficient (cuts costs), and the time it trims from procedures-it makes both sense and cents.

When you think about radiography, it’s one of the procedures that we use every day (and really couldn’t practice without). When viewed in that context, why would someone not want to go digital?

5. Patient education

All of the things I’ve mentioned in this article are-in one way or another-visual tools. Studies show that somewhere between 75 and 85 percent of what we perceive about our environment comes to us through our eyes. That stat alone should be enough to have a doctor considering some type of patient education system, but there are even more reasons! In dentistry, we are trained to use our skills to help others, and we do that very well.

What we really aren’t well trained to do is to explain why our treatment is necessary.

Using a system like Guru, CAESY, ConsultPro or others lets communication specialists bring the message to the patient while the providers do what they do best. These systems provide all the information prospective patients need in verbiage they understand and use images that are educational but not scary.

Regular use of programs such as these can be a tremendous boost to your practice and help you gain referrals because patients truly understand why treatment is needed.

Wrapping it up

Innovation is important and it pays to continue to keep up-to-date and evolve. However, it also pays to work with and stick with those things that are proven and reliable. The only constant is change. Just make sure, as you change, you don’t forget those things that got you here in the first place!

Want more from Dr. Flucke? Check out his preview of this year's ADA Annual Session:

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