Dental Tech Tag Archive

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What Dental Lasers and Early Cavity Detection Can Mean for Your Practice

As many of you may already know, the use of laser and light technology is vastly altering the medical and dental industries. Many dentists have discovered the number of benefits of incorporating laser technology into procedure implementations and treatments. Lasers have been noted to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of procedures and can diminish the amount of time necessary for treatment and recovery. Whether it is used for shaping a patients gums after periodontal disease or whitening teeth, as time passes the uses of dental lasers in cosmetic dentistry has become increasingly evident and popular.

One of the lesser known uses for a dental laser is the role this technology can play on tooth decay and carries detection. Until recently, detection of tooth decay has been difficult to detect in its earliest stages. Often evidence of decay can only be seen once it has progressed and begun to permeate through the surrounding tissue causing visible damage. The primary reason for this is that decay can move into microscopic tears in enamel where it can go unnoticed. In fact, decay cannot be seen until it is one-third the width of the tooth. This can give the bacteria a chance to do damage to the teeth and dental structure that could have been avoided if detected early. As decay progress it becomes more difficult to treat and can lead to a number of dental disorders. Until recently dentists needed to take x-rays and physically probe teeth to find evidence of decay. At this point the decay has already began doing damage to the enamel of the tooth. With the use of dental lasers however, cavity detection can begin much earlier.

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patients like email

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Patients Like Email

Did you know?

58% of consumers start their online day by reading their emails.

76% of dental patients said email is the best way for companies to communicate with them.

This is based on a 2008 Sesame Communications research paper. Most likely today even more of your patients prefer e-mail.

So the question is… are you using it? Or even better are you gathering patient e-mail addresses in order to use it?

Here is an example of how e-mail communication can be used effectively with e-services.

First you have to collect and sore the e-mail address. Most Practice Management Systems have e-mail address as a field in the patient information field. Be sure you get it filled in. It has to be on your intake form, if you are still using the forms you had in 1995 you need to update.

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As all those existing patients who started with you last century and didn’t have an e-mail address need to provide it now. Make it part of your health history update. Ask for it and give the patient a good reason to provide it.

For example advise them that you will send e-appointment reminders rather than bother them with a phone call and most (76%) of patients will give it to you…but you have to ask. Another idea is to offer an incentive. For example: Dr. Digital has written a list of the five ways to save money on dental care. If you give us your e-mail we will send you a free copy.

Now that you have e-mail addresses how do you use them. The best way is with e-services. Again Most Practice Management Systems provides a good example of these services.

Appointment reminders are an obvious use for e-mail. However you can also use e-mail to direct patients to your web site to fill out forms. NOTE: Online forms are not just for new patients, this is a great way to make sure all existing patients have up to date personal and medical information on file. And better yet it is on file in a digital format so you can eliminate those pesky paper charts.

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Technology Acquisition, Finance, and Training

Dentists are acquiring technology at unprecedented rates for a number of very good reasons.  Primary drivers are the rate advancement of technology itself, coupled with meaningful value that can be delivered relative to legacy technology. Larry Emmott makes the value of training crystal clear in his Ten Most Common Mistakes Dentists Make Using Technology.

I would like to add a few comments about how my practice chooses and finances new technology. Every year we establish a budget of somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000+.  Our 4 doctors research the possibilities throughout the first 6 months of the year, paying close attention to which technologies will give us the biggest bang (= sales) for the buck, coupled with value to patient care.  With connected technologies we favor open source, to avoid the high cost of proprietary closed systems. For example we reviewed and had demos of digital scanning systems and milling units last year and chose 3M’s scanner coupled with Glidewell’s milling unit. For a huge discount off the cost of the “industry leader” we have been able to integrate wonderful same day crown technology.

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Guide to “Going Paperless”

book

2016 is the year to “Go Paperless”

Stop putting it off, going paperless can save you tens of thousands of dollars. Make it a New Year’s goal – paperless in 2016.

My comprehensive technology guide, “How to go paperless in the dental office” will answer the basic question…Why bother?  It then provides step by step help in setting up a paperless office, including the eight essentials that need to be in place before you get started, four ways to digitize stuff, and front deskless workflow. There is even a budget and financial analysis that shows how your current paper system is costing you over $40,000!

“How to go paperless in the dental office” will answer all your questions, provide a plan and show you how to save money… all delivered in a fun and easy to understand style.

Follow the link to order your copy today >

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DICOM

Dicom

DICOM stands for Digital Image Communication in Medicine. It is an international standard for digital radiography that covers everything from hospital CAT Scans to dental periapicals. It is the DICOM standard that assures the reliable transfer of images from one system to another.

The DICOM standard also calls for the transfer of essential data along with the image. This includes the patient name, the date the image was acquired, the tooth number, the orientation and more. By arranging these critical data elements in a standard format they can now be transferred along with the image in a reliable manner.

To understand the concept, relate it to our old photographic system. A radiograph is just the image. Data elements in the form of the patient’s name, the date and tooth numbers are attached to the image by writing them on a mount or an envelope that holds the x-ray. As long as the mount and the image stay together we know about the film. However sometimes they are separated. Virtually every dental office has found an orphaned x-ray stuck behind the file cabinet at some time. With the data elements removed, in other words with the mount missing there is no way to ever determine whose x-ray it is and when it was taken. DICOM standards are the equivalent of permanently attaching the x-ray mount, and all the data it contains, to a digital image.

DICOM enhances interoperability. That is the ability of users to use different manufacturer systems with each other. The opposite of interoperability is proprietary.

Manufacturers like proprietary systems. Consumers prefer interoperability. Experience has shown that vendors will attempt to maintain control unless consumers demand interoperability.

Interoperability protects the dentist’s investment. If your brand leaves the market or another much better option comes along you can replace components as needed with other brands. The addition of DICOM to a digital radiography system does not make it more complex to the user. All the DICOM functions are invisible to the user; it does not require any additional steps to use. In fact the number of steps will be reduced when transferring or importing images as the user will not have to type in any patient data.

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