By Jan Einfeldt
Clinical Director of Staplehurst Dental Practice
What’s important to patients is also important to dentists and vice versa. We all benefit from efficient processes that enhance comfort, accuracy and minimise stress.
From the patient’s perspective, dental impressions haven’t traditionally offered the most pleasant experience. The availability of digital intraoral scanners has changed this drastically, providing a much more comfortable alternative[i]. For dentists, intraoral scanners offer many benefits in addition to encouraging patient satisfaction. They also have the potential to enhance the professional workflow, simplifying the impression-taking process and making everything from capture to storage of impressions easier. Plus, you can’t lose digital impressions like you can in the post or in filing cabinets.
The simple fact is that not all of us are great at taking impressions. Slight movement or a momentarily lapse in concentration can cause a less-than-perfect impression. The intraoral scanner increases the accuracy of the impression significantly[ii] and studies have found that trueness and precision[iii] can vary from scanner to scanner. As quality of the impression now depends on correct use of the scanner rather than experience with materials, we could soon see other members of the team taking impressions, instead of the dentist. Continue reading
The answer isn’t necessarily one or the other. It might be a combination of the two.
If you’ve decided to transition away from film, it’s important to look at all of the computed radiography and direct radiography options available in order to consider the pros and cons of each. It’s an important decision—you want it to be an informed one.
||· Not as high as digital radiography
||· Considered the best image quality and comparable to high-speed film in many cases, improving your diagnostic accuracy
|Speed of Acquisition
||· Faster than film, slower than digital, impacting workflow for inter-operative imaging and new patient /recall exams
||· Viewable in seconds, maximizing efficiency and productivity
||· Variable, because plates are consumed over time
· Easily damaged
|· No additional expense after initial purchase, other than warranty costs and disposable sheaths (because sensors are reusable and durable)
|Similarity to Film
||· Film-like workflow, reducing training
||· Entirely different workflow, although user friendly, making training necessary
|Quantity Needed for a Practice
||· One scanner; several plates, which can be used by more than one user at a time and later scanned
||· Several sensors of various sizes, depending on size of the practice and number of users
||· Available in more sizes than DR
||· Available in sizes 0, 1 and 2
||· Multi-size options
· Due to flexibility and thinness, considered more comfortable for small children and patients with anatomic limitations and/or strong gag reflexes
|· More comfortable than their predecessors (thanks to contoured design), but still may be intolerable for patients with anatomic limitations and/or strong gag reflexes
If you haven’t switched to digital radiography, it’s likely due to concerns like these:
- Operational challenges
- Staff retraining
The misconceptions about digital radiography dissuade many oral health professionals from making the transition. They focus on the immediate impact of equipment changes and stop there.
Do you fall into this category? If so, you may not realize the potential for digital radiography to advance your dental practice objectives.
|“Digital radiography isn’t worth the cost of computerizing my backend.”
If treatment rooms are not already computerized, adding digital radiography may seem like an expensive option.
|Two key points:
# 1 – Not all digital radiography products require a computerized operatory. For example, phosphor plate systems have a workflow similar to film but can develop images much faster and do not require a treatment room computer. Some digital sensors work with portable computing / display options, such as a tablet.
# 2 – Computerizing your back office and networking a good practice management system can actually reduce overall operational costs in many ways
|Don’t assume all digital radiography products won’t be adaptable to the technology level of your practice. If you aren’t planning to computerize your treatment rooms, ask about mobile solutions or digital radiography products with a workflow similar to film.
|“Digital sensors are big, bulky and hard to position.”
Many dentists are afraid that digital intraoral sensors are harder to position than film and are more uncomfortable for their patients.
|Today’s digital intraoral sensors come in a variety of sizes and can capture a wide range of images. They’re designed for comfort and easy placement.
|Look for sensors that:
– Come in different sizes
– Can capture different types of images
– Have positioning systems that facilitate placement
|“Digital radiography is too expensive.”
Some practices are hesitant to purchase digital radiography products because the initial costs are higher than film radiography’s.
|The upfront cost of digital radiography is more than film. However, this is a one-time expense. And, if you consider the savings in time and consumables (film/chemicals), you may discover that you actually spend less in the long run.
||Compare your yearly spend on film/chemicals to the cost of digital radiography equipment. Depending on how many images you capture annually, you may save by making the switch.
What are your concerns about digital radiography? Or if you’ve already made the switch to digital, what advice do you have for practitioners who haven’t? Continue reading
As part of our New Year kick off, we asked a number of experts in the dental industry about their predictions for 2017. Jackie Dorst, of Safe Practices, shares her thoughts on what the year will bring in terms of sterilization and infection control for dental practices.