Dental Tech Tag Archive

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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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What Implant is That?

what implant is that?

What Implant is That? A Web-based Reference for Implant Radiographic Identification

Over the last 40 years, implants have been gaining popularity in dentistry, resulting in over a hundred types of implants in service. Each new manufacturer and design has certain characteristics that differentiate it from the competition. As prosthodontists, we are faced with a myriad of patients whose implants may require our expertise. We are expected to know how to restore these implants, and so the question often arises: what implant is that?
In 2002, Sahiwal et al wrote three articles attempting to shed light on the confusion. The author began to categorize all implants according to their radiographic appearance: threaded versus nonthreaded, tapered versus nontapered, etc. The author included charts indicating which implants had each of these various characteristics. Although the data is presented in the article, the sheer volume of information presented lacks the easy integration of this categorization into everyday practice. This makes it a difficult task for a practitioner, with radiograph in hand, to quickly search through the hundreds of implants to determine what he needs to know.
With the information technologies available today, it is possible to present the same information in a format that would allow for quicker, easier radiographic identification of dental implants. By building a database of radiographic images linked to the various differentiating characteristics, we have used search engine-like functionality to create a reference that allows users to filter through the vast number of implants through identifying key characteristics. It also allows for visual verification by including the radiographs of all the implants. Taking this resource to the internet would make it possible for doctors to have easy reference to this information, making integration into practice quick and easy.

via What implant is that? An online resource for Radiographic Implant Identification.

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“Good” Charting Software

Good charting software has many features. One of the most important is that it eliminates all paper. That means the software must accommodate all the bits of paper data that accumulate in a chart and it must have a method of importing virtually anything either with a scanner or file import function. If some bit of paper possibly a lab slip or patient letter must be stored in a folder then you have lost one of the primary benefits of an electronic chart.

Another important feature is full integration. That means that each item is entered one time and then transfers to where ever else it is needed electronically. For example a procedure will progress from diagnosis to charting to treatment planning to scheduling to treatment to insurance to payment. This is called single entry. If the user has to re-enter information such as procedure codes, tooth numbers or fees at any stage then the software is not fully integrated.

Good charting software must accommodate all the information we used to record on paper. That includes existing restorations, conditions, diagnostic findings, treatment plans, periodontal probings and tissue conditions, tooth surfaces, materials and procedure notes.

Charting software must be easy to use. Every mouse click or keystroke slows down the process and makes the program harder to use, which means it doesn’t get used. The more the user can customize the chart the easier it is to use. That means the user can create shortcuts, eliminate features they don’t use and designate functions for each button.

Data entry needs to be fast and easy. The standard is still mouse clicks and keystrokes however faster more intuitive entry methods are available. Like voice; we’d all like to talk to our computer just like Star Trek. Some charting programs allow users to speak in clinical findings like pocket depths, tooth conditions and restorations. Another alternative entry is touch, instead of clicking a mouse the user touches the screen. The latest is ”Ink” a special function that allows users to write or draw on the chart just as if it was a piece of paper.

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Method or Results: High Tech Diagnosis


The core of hi tech diagnostics is the ability to scientifically measure a physiologic condition and then to convert those measurements to a digital format for analysis and recording. The result is a highly accurate and consistent measurement.

Traditional methods of diagnosis are often little more than highly educated subjective guesses. To become a good diagnostician requires training, skill and experience. No random man on the street can pick up an explorer or look at a film radiograph and detect decay. However any old man on the street can look at a computer screen and see that the green part is healthy and the red part is decayed.

Since most dentists have spent years developing these subtle diagnostic skills, and they are justifiably proud of them, they tend to reject technology that suddenly makes those skills obsolete. They confuse method with results.

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Are you mobile ready?


News from the Internet Summit – Are you mobile ready?

This past November, nine Net32 employees had the opportunity to attend the 2013 Internet Summit in Raleigh, North Carolina. The conference was packed full of internet business information to help us continue to serve our dental customers in the most effective means possible.  Of everything we learned, one topic stands out as the most relevant to share with you: In 2014 mobile internet access will surpass desktop.

How does this shift affect your dental practice? It means you must be mobile ready. That is, your site and email communications must be easily viewable and functional on a mobile device. If you have not already redesigned your marketing strategy with mobile in mind, make getting “Mobile Ready” your 2014 New Year’s resolution.

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