2018 Predictions: Riding the Wave of Digital Transformation

Advancements in intraoral scanner and 2D panoramic equipment technology along with the increased use of CBCT systems are key indicators that the analog to digital transition will continue to intensify in 2018. Carestream Dental’s chief dental officer, Edward Shellard, D.M.D., shares his vision for the future of digital dentistry.


Which digital tool has made the biggest difference in efficiency for your practice?

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

Using a Digital Workflow to Plan an Implant Case from Start to Finish

Delivering predictable restorative outcomes is essential in implant cases. Through advancements in 3D and CAD/CAM technology, oral surgeons are better able to use a complete digital workflow to plan a case, fabricate a custom abutment, and fabricate and insert the crown.

In the Implant Practice article below, I describe how I treated a patient who presented with a congenitally missing left mandibular second premolar as well as the efficiencies experienced through the use of an integrated digital workflow.

Overall, when compared with conventional dentistry, a digital workflow allows us to complete a case—such as this one—in fewer steps and with enhanced patient comfort and satisfaction in mind.

Digital Alternatives and the Payoff to Your Patients and Practice

Many areas of the dental practice are now influenced or controlled by digital features. Most practices have already adopted some element of technology to help improve the efficiency of the business and the outcome for their patients. The majority, however, still have opportunities to integrate further digital alternatives.

Why haven’t practice owners converted to digital wherever possible? There are a number of reasons why, but they usually come down to two: cost and time. In comparison, the lucky few who have adopted digital dentistry are “innovators,” embracing technology to the fullest, and reaping the rewards.

Where is digital dentistry in the practice?

In the last few decades, digital options have become available in both the clinical and business side of dental practices, including:

  • Radiography
  • Shade matching
  • Photography
  • Computer-aided design and manufacture (CAD/CAM)
  • Diagnosis and analysis, such as detection for caries, temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders
  • Practice management

The latter, although it does not have a clinical application, is becoming increasingly important in this era, since records and reports are essential to meeting organizational and legal standards. Improvements in practice management software—and the range of products available—mean that practices are becoming more efficient as businesses. Continue reading

Film vs. Digital: What Would You Do with More Time? (Infographic)

Switching from film to digital can lead to a number of well-known benefits, including reducing the cost of film-related consumables, improving patient care and increasing case acceptance. But one of the biggest advantages to busy dentists is the time savings produced by implementing digital systems.

Dental Film vs. a Digital Imaging Workflow

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What Does Digital Mean?

In the most literal sense, to digitize something means to turn it into digits or numbers. In a more practical sense, it means turning something into the electronic language a computer can understand.

Digital information can be many things including words, numbers, photos, x-rays, sounds, movies or even solid objects (like teeth).

Once an item is digitized, there are three very significant things you can do with it. You can store transmit and manipulate or enhance it using a computer or a computer network; in other words, you can take a digital impression and store it on a server it does not get lost taking up space on a closet shelf. You can transmit it to a lab instantly, no boxes and FedEx trucks needed. And you can design a crown onscreen with no wax and Bunsen burner. Continue reading

Best Practices for Infection Control: Digital Radiography (DR) and Computed Radiography (CR)

An important consideration of digital radiography (DR) or computed radiography (CR) utilization is understanding how to “sanitize” your imaging technology to ensure that infection control standards are met.

As dentists, the health and safety of our patients is of paramount importance — not only for maintaining a trusting relationship with them, but also for shielding them from potential sources of cross contamination and possible infection.  For this reason, I would like to take a moment to address the best practices for infection control for digital intraoral sensors as well as phosphor plate systems.
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Spotlight on Sensors: The Anatomy of a Quality Digital Sensor

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

Diagram of an intraoral sensor

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Business Case for Green Dentistry: What is the Bottom Line?

Business Case for Green Dentistry:  What is the Bottom Line?

When many people hear the term “going green,” they think about recycling cans, bottles, and paper. However, as dental practice owners, we are fortunate to be surrounded by business elements that can be modified to enact changes that can have a positive impact on the environment as well as our bottom line. What’s more, many of these changes are easy to implement, allowing you to quickly reap the rewards of your efforts by: Continue reading

Upgrading Your Digital Radiography System: How Do You Know When It’s Time? (Checklist)

In recent weeks, I have focused my posts on the process of upgrading your practice from film to digital radiography and the many benefits it provides. However, it is also important to discuss when you should upgrade your existing digital imaging technology and /or related computers. Continue reading