Look at all the technology choices we now have in dentistry that we’ve never had before. I don’t care if you’re going to practice for one or 40 years, you’ll have to choose the technologies for your office to practice dentistry in the future. The choices in technology are becoming more complicated and involved. The right choice of technology for your office can rapidly improve patient care and your productivity, which translates to your bottom line. The wrong technology can make clinical care more invasive and complicated, and can put your office out of business. This is why it’s crucial for you to have a well-thought-out process as to how you evaluate which technologies belong in your office.
There are no good or bad technology choices. It all comes down to what services your office provides now, the kind of office you want to have, and the kind of clinical care you want to provide. Let me show you the thought process we go through in our offices when we look at dental technology choices.
There are basically two kinds of dental technology:
Integrative technology—Examples of integrative technology include patient engagement systems, digital imaging, dental lasers, and digital radiography. Integrative technology means that you do not have to change your office or the way you practice dentistry. Let’s take dental lasers as an example. The beauty of an all-tissue dental laser (iPlus, www.biolase.com) is that once you learn how to use it, you can prepare teeth as fast as a high-speed handpiece without having to deliver local anesthesia. You can wheel this all-tissue laser into your office, park it right next to you, and get to work right away. You prepare teeth the way you want to, and nothing about the clinical procedure changes except that it becomes faster and more comfortable for the patient.
Patient engagement systems such as Smile Reminder (www.smilereminder.com) allow you to more efficiently communicate with your patients, and they free up your front office team to do things that are more important than making confirmation calls, which nobody answers and nobody wants to get. The most unique features of Smile Reminder are an online payment portal, as well as an exclusive feature with CareCredit where you can see the limit of those in your practice with CareCredit accounts, which is an incredible advantage in case presentation. Integrative technology is right for every practice.
Nonintegrative technology—An example of nonintegrative technology is in-office CAD/CAM (Cerec, E4D). There are wonderful advantages to an in-office CAD/CAM if you’re willing to change the way you practice. Your office will have to schedule differently, your preparation design will have to change, you may want to learn how to do more inlays/onlays, and you will have to do some laboratory work. For the right dental office, in-office CAD/CAM is phenomenal. For an office that does not want to go through these changes, in-office CAD/CAM is not a good choice.
This same concept applies to choices about new procedures to offer in your practice. Integrative procedures such as frontline TMJ/myofascial pain techniques, Botox, and dermal fillers require learning new skills with no capital investment and no obstacles. Nonintegrative procedures such as sleep apnea have obstacles that you can’t control but you can work through.
Looking at technology and new procedures in this way has really helped our practice over the last 30 years get the most out of dental technology, raise our production, and lower our overhead. Take a careful look at technology and new procedures from an integrative point of view and you’ll find that your choices will become easier to make and will provide better dentistry for your patients. With the right technology and new procedures, your practice will run more efficiently, your front office will be freed up to engage patients while they’re right in front of you, and your office will live happily ever after.
Louis Malcmacher, DDS, MAGD, is a practicing general dentist and internationally known lecturer, author, and dental consultant. An evaluator emeritus for CLINICIANS REPORT, Dr. Malcmacher is the president of the American Academy of Facial Esthetics at facialesthetics.org. Contact him at (800) 952-0521 or email drlouis@FacialEsthetics.org. His website is www.commonsensedentistry.com, where you can sign up for a free monthly e-newsletter.