Carestream Dental connected with industry leaders to learn more about their predictions for oral health care in the New Year. The chief editor of Dental Economics, Chris Salierno, D.D.S, shared his predictions for 2018*:
We are smack in the middle of a revolution. Digital dental technologies are not a fad and they will not be collecting dust in your closet. They’re here to stay and they’re being used every day. Wherever you are in your journey to becoming a more digital practice, you should be keeping your eye on what the rest of the profession is doing.
Last year on this blog, I predicted that in 2017 we would see growth in digital impressions; a focus on efficiency as profits are challenged; and that manufactures would focus on the interconnectivity of our hardware and software. Those trends will certainly continue into the near future. This year, I’d like to add two more trends to our list.
- 3D printers are here
I had heard rumors that some early adopter dentists had purchased industrial 3D printers. I imagined them experimenting with them in their basements like mad scientists. Then, I went to the IDS in Cologne and was blown away. Several major dental manufacturers already have working 3D printers and the necessary materials to fabricate models, surgical guides, orthodontic appliances and even provisional restorations. This isn’t science fiction; it’s here. I’m interested to see how our profession begins to incorporate this technology into everyday practice. It seems like a perfect complement to milling.
- Assistants will play a bigger role
As I mentioned last year, dentists are under greater pressure to produce dentistry more efficiently. We would be wise to invest in technology that allows us to provide care more quickly without sacrificing quality. Shorter appointments are great service to our busy patients and to our bottom line. But another way to tackle the efficiency problem is to manage our operatory flow differently. You may be able to take a digital impression faster than a traditional one, but I think that’s not the right way to think about it. If I can delegate a digital impression and provisional fabrication to a well-trained, certified dental assistant, I am free to provide care in another operatory. One of the exciting trends in dental technology is the ability to share responsibility with other members of the dental team. I recently asked a well-known lecturer how he incorporates digital scanning into his workflow. He replied: “It’s easy. I don’t do any of it.”