The Future of Digital Dentistry is Open, Faster and Smaller

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

Computed Radiography vs. Digital Radiography: Which Is Right for Your Practice?

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.

Computed Radiography Digital Radiography
Resolution ·   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
Expenses ·   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
Size Options ·   Available in more sizes than DR ·   Available in sizes 0, 1 and 2
Patient Comfort ·   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

 

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Going Digital: It’s Easier Than You Think

If you haven’t switched to digital radiography, it’s likely due to concerns like these:

  • Operational challenges
  • Cost
  • 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.

Misconception Reality Next Step
“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

Three Dental Technology Predictions for 2017 That Would Be Most Welcome

As the year comes to a close, Carestream Dental reached out to industry leaders asking for their predictions for oral health care in 2017. The chief editor of Dental Economics, Chris Salierno, D.D.S, had this to say:

By Chris Salierno, D.D.S, Chief Editor, Dental Economics

The way we practiced dentistry in 1955 was not all that different from 1965.  Ditto for 1965 to 1975, and so on until we reached the new millennium.  Sure, there were major innovations in technology and materials along the way, but they didn’t occur at the accelerated pace that they do today.  Now, compare how dentistry was practiced in 2005 to 2015, the same ten year span, and you’ll be able to identify significantly more advancements in the way we provide care.  This exponential growth in technology is not just unique to our profession and is observable in everything from cell phones to how we order a taxi cab.

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Predicting the Top 2017 Dental Trends

To understand what oral health professionals should look for in 2017, we asked a number of experts about their opinions on this year’s trends. This is what Ed Shellard, D.M.D., Carestream Dental’s vice president of sales and marketing, had to say:

Advancements in digital dentistry make each year more exciting than the last. As we look ahead, 2017 will be no different. In addition to growing digital trends, we’ll also see a new business structure emerge. Let’s take a more detailed look at how oral health care might be different in 2017

Intraoral Scanning

Intraoral scanning will continue to grow in the upcoming years. While there may be certain cases where taking traditional impressions is necessary, 3D intraoral scanning is more comfortable for patients and more convenient for practices and labs. The growth of 3D intraoral scanning is the first step in digitizing the restorative workflow. While chairside milling is important, larger numbers of practitioners are choosing to defer the purchase of a mill until they are comfortable with the implementation of the 3D intraoral scanner. Fortunately, “open” scanners make it easy for doctors to work with labs. Continue reading

The Possibilities are Limitless

Technology, trends and techniques are constantly changing. With that in mind, Carestream Dental asked a number of experts about their opinions on what oral health care professionals should be on the lookout for in 2017. Here’s what Lisa Moler, publisher of MedMark, had to say:

By Lisa Moler, Publisher, MedMark, LLC

Staying current on dental trends is both exhilarating and challenging for MedMark’s dental journals, Implant Practice US, Orthodontic Practice US, Endodontic Practice US and Dental Sleep Practice. Latest and greatest technologies keep evolving at mind-blowing rates, allowing diagnostic and treatment options to become safer and more efficient—while staying within a reasonable budget.

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The Future of Dentistry is ‘Amazing’

Carestream Dental asked a number of experts for their opinions on what the big trends in oral health care will be in 2017. Larry Emmott, D.D.S., weighed in:

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”

So said Yogi Berra, and he is right. On the other hand Bill Gates had this to say:

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”

Looking ahead to 2017, we could make predictions that are sure to come true. However they would be so obvious as to be useless. We could make bold outlandish predictions that are exciting but unlikely to come true next year. Any dentist looking to plan ahead would be disappointed. The best alternative is to point out trends and predict how those trends will impact dentistry in the coming years.

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