The top things our dental experts are excited about in 2017


DPR spoke with several experts in our industry about what they are excited for in the dental industry in 2017-and what you should be excited for, too!

As we say goodbye to the year 2016, we talked to some of our experts about what they are excited about for 2017. From new technology to new ways to approach hygiene, what they told us will probably excite you, too.

Here is what the experts had to say:

Dr. Mark Hyman: 

Liberating dentists to practice unencumbered with affordable intraoral cameras

Dr. Mark Hyman, full-time private-practice clinician, educator at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and national and international speaker, considers the quality of your dental photography the gateway to practice success in 2017.  He invested in Digi-Doc intraoral cameras for all eight operatories in his Greensboro, North Carolina, practice. He also takes before, during and after photos of his procedures. 

“In this competitive, turbulent, litigious time we live in, our friends in the insurance industry might turn around and say, ‘Where was the decay? You did unnecessary work. You did too many crowns. You did too many build ups.’ If you have photos of the before, during and after … it’s ball game, mic drop, end of story,” says Dr. Hyman. 

He shows patients their photos on an LCD monitor, usually without saying anything else. “We don’t have to beg patients to accept care. We just put a big color photo of their tooth on an LCD monitor in front of them and shut up.”

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Dr. Hyman credits the convenience of today’s intraoral camera for giving dentists the freedom to practice how they want, without limitations placed both externally and internally. 

“That’s what I want for my dental colleagues in 2017: Liberation. Liberation from the insurance companies and from our limiting beliefs as to what patients will or won’t say yes to,” Dr. Hyman explains.

Best of all, it’s a relatively small investment. Dr. Hyman remembers his first intraoral camera from 1991. It cost $17,900 and came with a cart so you could drag it from room to room. By contrast, his Digi-Docs are much smaller and cost less than $5,000 each. They pay for not only themselves, but also other expensive technology in the practice. 

“This investment can lead to everything else. You want to buy a CBCT machine? They’re expensive, right? If you only add an extra $500 per day, and figure most doctors work 200 days a year, then you have an extra $500 a day times 200 days and bang! That’s an $100,000 increase in twelve months,” Dr. Hyman explains. “So you earn a cone beam or a CEREC machine just using that concept of convenient photography.”

However, Dr. Hyman says that even $500 is a low estimate. He estimates he and his team add at least $2,000 a day. Even reducing that number by half, clinicians could add $1,000,000 to their practice over five years, just by investing $5,000. 

“Those are numbers people can get excited about,” he says. “This is not hard to do.” 


Continue to the next page to hear from Dr. John Flucke...



Dr. John Flucke: 

Embracing expanded functions of your team and emerging sciences

Dr. John Flucke, a general dentist in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, is excited about including the team more in 2017. Keeping your lines of communication open with your people allows them to help you to their fullest abilities. 

“Dentists tend to be hands-on and think, ‘If I don’t touch it, then it’s not right,’ or ‘If I don’t touch it, I’m not comfortable.’ You don’t always need to do that,” he says. 

Dr. Flucke practices in Missouri, a state with expanded function. He allows everybody do as much as they legally can, because it’s more fun for them and a lot of what they can do makes his life easier. 

“Everything just rolls better when you include the team. And I love that. The people that work for me love being able to help and use their skills,” he says. 

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The assistants can cement crowns and adjust occlusion out of the mouth in Missouri. When there are prosthetics to cement, Dr. Flucke ensures everything looks perfect; his assistant does the cementation and the cleanup. 

“That saves a bunch of time for me because while it’s done, I’m doing something different. I am not even in the room. It makes things go so much better. The schedule is more available to patients because they are not looking for times when I have all that time in my schedule.”

However, Dr. Flucke believes dentists should expand their functions, specifically for implants. Implants weren’t part of the regular curriculum when Dr. Flucke went to dental school. However, today they are. Because he didn’t train on them, he doesn’t place implants and he knows a lot of other dentists his age are in the same boat. He recommends becoming familiar with them and more comfortable with them. 

“Even if you don’t place implants, you need to educate yourself about them, because the science is undergoing a lot of dramatic changes,” he said. “Younger doctors have placed them in dental school. To them, it’s second nature. For people like me that aren’t doing it, you still need to stay on the edge as far as learning about them, because they’re becoming more commonplace.”


Continue to the next page to hear from our next expert...



 Dental assistant, Tija Hunter: 

Watching what is already great in technology get even better

Tija Hunter, dental assistant and Vice President of the American Dental Assistants Association and self-described tooth geek, wishes she knew about a great new product set to change the dentistry world, but she doesn’t. She thinks dental already has it, and it’s only going to get better for dentists and patients. She credits the supplier companies for their innovation.

“I don’t know of any company that’s as futuristic as Dentsply Sirona in the way they look at technology. They come up with this amazing stuff, and when they come up with it, they only aim to build on it,” she says.

From their Teneo treatment center chairs, to their CEREC SpeedFire Sintering furnace, to an improved inEos X5 laboratory scanner and even the new customer magazine that keeps their customers abreast of their technology, Hunter thinks that most companies scramble to keep up with Dentsply Sirona. 

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Like Dr. Flucke, Hunter is also attracted to dental implant science and 3D technology. While not new in 2017, many practices still haven’t invested in the technology required for both. Hunter believes this science and its related technology will take a practice to a new level. 

“Having that ability to do guided impact surgery at your fingertips as a general dentist changes your entire practice,” she explains. “I thought when we became CEREC our practice changed. But when we purchased our cone beam, it’s crazy the way it opened us up to do guided implant surgery.” 

Hunter encourages both clinicians and their assistants to get out of their comfort zone in 2017 and quit feeling apprehensive about new technology. 

“When you reach higher and get out of that comfort zone, you’re forced to learn the technology and what it can do. From that comes success. It’s making you do something that you might not otherwise have done. I love it for that reason alone,” Hunter said. “If you are in an area where there are a lot of dentists and you don’t have the proper technology or the ability to design and place implants right there in the office, you are going to be left in the dust.” 


Continue to the next page to hear from Dr. Justin Chi...



Dr. Justin Chi: 

Integrating proven open source technology with new chairside CAD/CAM options

Dr. Justin Chi, Clinical Research Associate at Glidewell Laboratories, says the ability to work efficiently and improve patient comfort and convenience at the same time invigorates his practice. When technology integrates together well he reaps the benefits, particularly in his chairside restoration efforts. Dr. Chi used his recent experience with 3Shape TRIOS® scanner integration and Practice Lab software with Glidewell’s TS-150 Mill as an example. 

“It has lots of different libraries, and all of the key tools to do any design in the posterior, anterior, inlays and onlays, partial covered, and full coverage. Virtually any single-unit restoration can be efficiently designed with their software,” Dr. Chi says.

Dr. Chi is impressed with the feature that allows you to duplicate what is existing. If he is replacing a crown, fixing a broken tooth or adjusting previous dental work, he can scan in the pre-operative condition. 

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“Some of the other CAD/CAM software can also do that, but it’s pretty easy the way 3Shape has it set up,” Dr. Chi says. 

Also, the integration creates a complete impression system. Dr. Chi uses it for most types of cases, from single units in the office to the more complicated cases he sends to the lab. He uses it for complex esthetic cases, as well as Invisalign cases. He credits the ability to scan the upper and lower arch very quickly.  

“From that standpoint, it’s a great all-around impression system if you want to do same-day or if you want to do traditional dentistry and still use a digital impression system,” Dr. Chi says of the 3Shape technology. 

Dr. Chi likes how the 3Shape system works even on complex cases. He explains that all the digital impression technologies have difficulties getting an accurate impression of the whole area. “With this one, it simplifies that process,” he said. 


Continue to the next page to hear from Kara Vavrosky, RDH...



Dental hygienist, Kara Vavrosky:

Enjoying better ergonomics with better instruments

“As a hygienist, as far as being excited, it’s about instruments. If there is anything new about instruments, I’m like ‘yessss!’,” Kara Vavrosky, RDH in Beaverton, Oregon, and Editorial Director of Modern Hygienist explains.

That’s because hygienists love their instruments sharp and ergonomic. Vavrosky is intrigued by Scandinavian company LM Dental, and their new LM Ergo Sense Sharp Diamond Sharpen line. They require no sharpening and have a wide handle which improves ergonomics. One of her favorite features, however, was the RFID chip technology.

“You can have a chip inserted into them, utilizing RFID technology, and it can tell you how often it’s been used, if it’s clean, the maintenance, all these things after you hook it up to your computer.  It’s a built-in dental tracking system,” she says. It can also tell you where they are, a feature that might have more significance in a large group practice where several dental professionals are using instruments. 

Another reason Vavrosky thinks the LM Instruments are a game changer is that they provide improved ergonomics. The wide handles protect the hygienist’s hands. 

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“If you have too small of a handle you squeeze more. It has to do with pinch pressure. When handles are wider, it reduces muscle fatigue, which reduces the chance of muscular-skeletal injury. Plus, with them being silicone, supposedly it also helps with tactile sensitivity.”

One of the biggest challenges hygienists have is finding time to sharpen instruments. Not only is the schedule usually tight, but the sound is also awful. Vavrosky describes it like “fingernails on a chalkboard.” She jokes that you could sharpen them right next to the patient, but was confident it would scare them right out of the operatory. 

“But sharp instruments are vital. If they are sharp, your scaling is more efficient and thorough,” Vavrosky says. “It sounds horrible, too, but when a patient cancels, we shouldn’t get excited for that. We should be like, ‘Oh no! They aren’t getting their treatment.’ But really, it’s like, ‘Oh good! I have time to sharpen my instruments.’”

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