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.
||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.
||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.
||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?
Manufacturers of intraoral scanners often use the terms “true,” “precise” and “accurate” interchangeably to describe their scanners, but what role do these concepts play in digital impressions and the final restoration or appliance? In fact, according to a recent study, “Accuracy of four intraoral scanners in oral implantology: a comparative in vitro study,”1 published by the scientific journal BMC Oral Health, for an intraoral scanner to be considered accurate it needs both trueness and precision.
Trueness refers to whether a measurement matches the actual quantity being measured, while precision indicates the ability of that measurement to be consistently repeated. Therefore, for a scanner to be called accurate it must deliver consistent results, even when it is used to obtain different measurements of the same object. In this way, an intraoral scanner should detect all impression details and generate a virtual 3D model that is as close to the initial rendering as possible. Continue reading
In the 1960s, root canal morphology was looked at differently than today. The common thought was that molars generally had three canals. Today, we know that there are often four, sometimes five canals. Have humans genetically evolved in the past 50 years? No. But new technology, such as cone beam computed tomography (CBCT), reveals minute details of root morphology like never before.
Essentially, CBCT allows us to miss less of what we did in the past by giving us high-resolution, three-dimensional scans of patient anatomy. Focused fields of view mean endodontists can review highly detailed images with up to 75 μm resolution (0.075 mm slices). Plus, when the doctor is able to see the root of the problem, it means a more comprehensive, and therefore successful, treatment plan and often times less post-operative pain for the patient.
Technology has changed dramatically over the past decades to allow us to diagnosis and treat patients in a way never thought possible. My partner recently retired, and in over 50 years, he rarely ever saw a tooth with five canals; whereas, my CBCT system has revealed dozens of cases with five canals. It’s just an amazing example of how CBCT is changing the way endodontists practice. Who knows what revolutionary technology will reveal next?
If you’re using an intraoral scanner to take digital impressions, then you already know their many benefits. However, it’s always good to have a few tricks up your sleeve when using new technology. Often when scanning shiny surfaces, such as a metal restoration, bracket or abutment, you may notice an overly bright area (or “hotspot”) on your scan. Not to worry, in this video I share a few easy tips for scanning reflective surfaces and getting the perfect scan to complete your digital impression.
According to an article in Investor’s Daily, the average health care office spends 2% of revenue on technology. That includes hospitals as well as physicians and dentists. In addition the article notes that businesses in general spend an average of 10% of gross revenue on technology.
Therefore, an average dental office should plan to invest two percent of gross in technology at an absolute minimum. A better budget would be 5-7% or more for an aggressive high tech office. Continue reading
For dentists, the health and safety of their patients is of paramount importance—not only for maintaining a trusting relationship, but also for shielding them from potential sources of cross-contamination and possible infection. As such, proper sterilization is critical when it comes to controlling the cross contamination of bacteria throughout the dental operatory. By following best practices for sterilization, dental professionals can reduce the spread of infectious diseases to themselves, patients and practice staff.
As intraoral scanners increase in popularity, more questions arise regarding the correct sterilization procedure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, as released by the American Dental Association (ADA), intraoral scanners tips are a member of the semicritical category, as the tip comes into contact with mucous membranes or non-intact skin due to the nature of restorations. Continue reading
Finding the right sensor for your practice requires research. After all, a good intraoral sensor can provide many benefits for you, your staff, and your patients. To facilitate this process, I have created a chart that highlights the features you should look for, how they benefit your practice, and the questions you should ask during the buying process. Continue reading
by Dr. Darrell Bourg
After being involved in a four wheeler accident, a 25-year-old male came into my implant dentistry practice complaining of pain in the upper left side of his mouth. Initially, I captured a 2D periapical image, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. Because of this, I decided to take a CBCT scan to get the bigger picture.
If you’re into technology—like I am—it’s always interesting to deconstruct a technology to better understand how it works. For this reason, I wanted to discuss the different components of an intraoral digital X-ray sensor and how they help you capture the digital images you need. Not all sensors contain the same parts, which is something to consider before making a sensor purchase. By buying a higher quality sensor for your practice, you can:
- optimize the signal-to-noise ratio leading to better contrast resolution and spatial resolution;
- properly disinfect the sensor, protecting against cross contamination; and
- ensure your sensor lasts longer, resulting in lower practice expenses.
Diagram of an intraoral sensor
The collaborative process is essential in interdisciplinary healthcare, and dentistry is no exception. My colleagues and I have had several discussions on what makes a general practitioner choose a specific specialist over another and how this critical relationship can be optimized for the benefit of all concerned. Continue reading