Intraoral Scanners—Saving the Earth, One Impression at a Time

Conventional impressions in landfill graphicDoctors are always looking for ways to save—save teeth, save patients time, save money. What about saving the environment? Without even realizing it, dentistry has a huge impact in the Earth: plastic impression trays pile up in landfills, paper charting can use up to 10,000 pieces of paper a year. The overarching solution is to switch to digital solutions, e.g., digital scanning instead of using impression material, digital charting instead of paper files. Today, in honor of Earth Day, we’ll take closer look at one such digital solution that can decrease dentistry’s footprint on the environment—intraoral scanning.

Let’s compare some of the aspects of the traditional impression workflow with using an intraoral scanner and how each affects the environment:

 

Traditional Impression

Environmental Impact Digital Impression Environmental Impact

Plastic tray to take impression

Ends up in landfill; 450 years to break down Few consumables, no trays whatsoever

Minimal

Polyvinyl siloxane (PVS) impression

Ends up in landfill; never breaks down Impression is digital, no physical impression

None

Courier drives to practice to pick up impression

More cars on the road; carbon emissions Digital impression is sent via secure portal to lab

None

OR Impression is shipped to lab

Paper, cardboard or styrofoam packaging; fuel used by delivery truck or airplane

Digital impression is sent via secure portal to lab

None

Continue reading

The Power of Purpose in Business and Life

By Roy Spence
Co-Founder & Chariman, GSD&M/Co-Founder & CEO, The Purpose Institute

Aristotle once said the purpose of life is to do good and be happy. It’s so simple yet so powerful, and it’s a thought that has shaped my thinking around the idea of “purpose.”

Defined simply, purpose is the reason why you exist and should be what drives you towards all your goals in life. It’s a concept that starts at home; essentially, stop asking your kids what they want to do and instead ask them what they love to do. And wouldn’t be great if schools put more emphasis on developing a sense of purpose and talent in students rather than simply passing tests? Once you have established your purpose, it will influence every aspect of your life.

I highly encourage individuals to find their purpose, but it’s an idea that easily translates to business as well. A practice’s purpose differs from its mission in that purpose is the practice’s “why” and mission is its “how.” Why does your practice exist? To provide every patient with a beautiful, healthy smile. How will your practice accomplish that? By delivering exceptional patient care. Vision, by the way, is how you see the world when you’re fulfilling your purpose, i.e., your practice can see a time when everyone will have access to great oral health care. It’s so important that practices clearly establish their purpose and rally their team around it. It’s the difference between waking up in the morning and thinking, “Today, I have to take 10 X-rays, perform 15 prophies, do two extractions…” and “Today, I get to make a difference in a patient’s life!” A practice’s purpose is a higher calling that motivates and encourages engagement. Continue reading

Are Patients Judging You by Your Technology?

In oral healthcare, clinical expertise and experience should count for more than technology—but the truth is that patients do judge their doctors by the technology they use. It can take as many as 25 years to become a great dentist or specialist, but these days it only take 25 minutes to look the part, especially when leveraging technology at a higher level.  Patients often judge practices by their technological expertise and their perception may even start when looking at your Internet presence (website, reviews, etc.) From there, it continues with their interaction with the front desk staff all the way throughout their clinical exam. For this reason, it’s imperative that the impression you make with your technology is a good one from the start.

Keeping your patients happy has a direct impact on your bottom line, which includes:

  • Attracting new quality patients
  • Increasing treatment acceptance
  • Retaining patients and decreasing patient turnover

The following chart also demonstrates how technological competency plays a role in improving the patient experience.

Expectation How It Helps Patients How It Helps You
Instant Access to Images Patients these days are busy. Whether a parent has taken his or her child out of school for an ortho records appointment or your patient is missing work for dental restorative appointment, reducing the length of patient visits is important. With fast image acquisitions and efficient access to historical image data, you can get patients in and out in a timely manner without them feeling rushed.
  • Digital technology produces images instantly—without the delays caused by processing film.
  • By capturing images with digital technology—such as direct digital sensors or phosphor plates—you no longer have to purchase expensive consumables, such as film or chemistry.
Co-diagnosis Patients want to feel in charge of their health. By “co-discovering” problem areas with you via a monitor, you give them the opportunity to play an active role in their oral health.
  • Allowing patients to co-discover problems with you improves understanding and increases case acceptance.
  • Patients who are satisfied with their care are more likely to return and also recommend your practice to their friends and family.
Education Some dental symptoms are asymptomatic, so patients aren’t often aware that a problem exists. By putting an image on the monitor, patients receive visual cues about the treatment needs that must be addressed.
  • When patients are able to visualize the problem, they are more likely to accept your treatment recommendation.
  • Digital images are usually displayed larger than those captured with film, which allows patients to participate more than before.

 

Patients are more likely to refer others to you if they feel safe and if they believe that you’re investing in your practice. You show them how much you care when investing in technology that aids in efficiency and raises your diagnostic accuracy.

Updating your technology will not only have an impact on your existing patients but it can also impress prospective patients as well. Featuring technology as an important part of your treatment philosophy enables you to stand apart from other practices in the community and allows your philosophy of technological competency to ring out loud.

Have you found that your patients judge your practice based on your technology? How has it affected your practice?

The Importance of Team Training When Implementing a New Practice Management System

Today, there are very few dental practices that do not have a practice management system installed. The days of front office staff flicking through a paper diary and shuffling notes from dentist to hygienist are long gone for most. Owners and practice managers spend hours researching the best system to suit their practice’s needs; perhaps they are a multi-site practice and so need a system that can cope with different locations, or maybe they require a piece of their existing equipment to integrate seamlessly with the software. The decision is an important one, as a lot of time and money is being invested. Sometimes, the area that can get overlooked due to resource constraints is the dental team’s involvement. Their inclusion and motivation for the practice management system is essential in its long-term success and full utilization.

Training the Team

If you are about to install a new system—or you are changing to alternative software—the initial training and ongoing support of the whole dental team is pivotal in its success. Even if there are members of the team who will use it to a lesser degree than others, their understanding of how the program works and where they can find certain information might prove beneficial in the future. Suppliers of practice management systems should offer comprehensive guidance and support for all members of staff; this should also be part of the decision maker’s criteria when assessing which system to purchase. Often, the training provided is an assortment of face-to-face teaching, self paced online training and written instructions, and then—when needed post-launch—webinars, telephone interactions and online forum support as appropriate. Continue reading

Interpreting Advanced Imaging: It’s Best to Know Nothing

by John Khademi, D.D.S, M.S.

Interpreting advanced imaging, such as CBCT imaging, is tricky. Evidence of just how tricky becomes apparent during lectures I give on the subject. I will show a study to the audience and discuss it for several minutes. When I take it down, I ask them which side was buccal? Which side was palatal? Was it tooth number 14 or number 3?

The audience will start guessing, because they really don’t know—even after looking at the tooth for 5-10 minutes. They would never mistake buccal for palatal, or the tooth numbers, with 2D radiography. But with 3D radiography, it happens all too often. I’ve been evaluating 3D imaging everyday in my endodontic practice for eight years now, and I can still make this kind of mistake. The issue is this: we don’t have that same set of skills with 3D radiography that we do with 2D radiography, but we think we do.

In medical radiology, however, they’re well aware of the complexities that go along with interpreting imaging. That’s why medical radiology is a four-year specialty after medical school—with sub-specialties after that. You don’t want a mammographer evaluating the CT of your head or a thoracic radiologist reading your mammogram.

The need for specialization is clear: interpreting 3D imaging calls for a well-trained eye. That’s why we have to be very careful when we interpret with CBCT. For this reason, I’ve developed a strategy for interpreting 3D imaging based on what has been learning in medical radiology.

It’s important to note that I don’t automatically order an imaging on every patient. Whenever possible, my staff provides me with the minimum information necessary to determine if an advanced imaging study should be prescribed.  This very counter-intuitive finding is captured in the title of a 2002 paper in Radiology from noted radiologist Dr. Thorn Griscom: A Suggestion: Look at the Images First, Before you Read the History.”

Whenever possible, the preferred method involves doing two reads—first, without looking at the projection radiograph, doing a clinical exam or talking to the patient first about their symptoms or getting the history. My goal is to not have any preconceived notions about what the findings may be, let alone the diagnosis. Of course, with CBCT—especially with the focused field—if it’s an upper left side, I have a pretty good idea of where the problem is. But that’s all I really want to know.

I evaluate the study through that lens. I then get the history, look at the projection radiograph, review all the clinical information and perform the clinical exam. After that, I go back and look at the CBCT study again. This approach is very counterintuitive and not widely appreciated.  Current recommendations for approaching are as follows: conduct a thorough clinical exam and radiographic exam before prescribing imaging. In my opinion, that’s backwards, and not based on what has been learned about the interpretive process through careful research in medical radiology. Continue reading

CBCT at Its Best: Get Involved

Dr. Kunal Shah is the Principal of a new practice in Hendon, London – LeoDental. With a state-of-the-art CBCT installed, the practice is receiving referrals for implant planning cases. Completing his series of articles looking at the use and benefits of CBCT in implant treatment, Kunal explores where dentists can start when getting involved with implantology, highlighting the importance of mentorship.

Unlike other areas of dentistry, there is no clear path to follow when looking to get involved in implantology. It is often down to the individual to seek the appropriate training through courses and postgraduate qualifications that satisfy the GDC’s requirement for implant dentists to be competent in the field.

When looking for an initial training course, I would recommend asking the following questions in order to overcome some of the hurdles I faced:

  • What does the course entail? What do you gain at the end of it? – You need to establish whether you’re looking for a qualification or clinical experience, as this will determine what type of training you chose. The qualification courses tend to be the MScs and Diplomas, which are heavily theory-based, while others are more clinical and practical-based. I personally preferred the clinical element – as a dentist, you already have knowledge of the anatomy, so implantology is simply building on this. I also believe you need practical experience to develop your skills, learn from your mistakes and understand the different scenarios that can occur in practice. Continue reading

CBCT at Its Best: In Practice

Dr. Kunal Shah is the Principal of a brand new practice in Hendon, London – LeoDental. With a state-of-the-art CBCT installed, the practice is receiving referrals for implant planning cases. In the second instalment of his three-part series, Kunal demonstrates a clinical case study where CBCT scanning was integral for predictable treatment and the very best outcome for the patient.

Background

A female 52-year-old patient was referred to me from a local practice for implant surgery. I had developed a good rapport with the referring dentist, who was looking for mentorship through this case. The patient had had missing teeth for several years (15-20), although this had only recently begun affecting her lifestyle as she had issues eating – the problem was therefore functional rather than aesthetic.

The patient was fit and healthy, with no relevant medical background or allergies, a non-smoker, social drinker, moderate previous dental restorations and generally good oral hygiene. The LL6, LL7 and LR6 were missing, having been extracted many years ago. The adjacent teeth had started to drift and the opposing teeth on the other side were erupting.

The treatment options were discussed with the referring dentist and the patient, which included no treatment, bridges, dentures and implants. The patient wished to proceed with implants and consent was obtained. Continue reading

CBCT at Its Best: The Perks

Dr. Kunal Shah is the Principal of a new practice in Hendon, London – LeoDental. With a state-of-the-art CBCT installed, the practice is receiving referrals for implant planning cases. As part of a three-part series, Kunal begins by considering the treatment pathway for implant treatment and how CBCT imaging improves the process for a more predictable outcome.

As implant dentistry continues to increase in popularity among the profession and patients, it’s important to establish a protocol for consistently safe and effective treatment. The quality and type of imaging used during the assessment and planning phases has a huge influence on this. In particular, the cutting-edge CBCT scanners now available offer unprecedented visualisation of each patient’s anatomy for precise planning and predictable outcomes.

For dentists new to dental implantology, the standard treatment pathway is as follows: Continue reading

2018 Predictions: Leveraging Technology to Impress Patients

The desire for convenient treatment is nothing new, but now more than ever patients want to have the benefits of the latest technology with minimal steps. Dentistry’s Image Expert, Janice Hurley, advises practices to continue to embrace tech-savvy patients in the year to come.

How do you help patients understand how dental technology improves their overall care?

The opinions expressed on the blog are a reflection of the author and not an endorsement from Carestream Dental.

2018 Predictions: Faster and More Predictable Implant Planning

Eliminating the guesswork of implant planning by utilizing cone beam computed tomography in conjunction with an intraoral scanner is one trend Ara Nazarian, DDS, believes will influence dentistry in 2018.

How do you think technology will change implant planning and placement in 2018?

The opinions expressed on the blog are a reflection of the author and not an endorsement from Carestream Dental.