Terry Patuzzo looks at some of the common misconceptions surrounding digital dentistry and argues that integrating digital technology into the workplace is not as big a step as some may think.
Alongside our smartphones, tablets and laptops, digital technology has been working its way into dental practices for a long time. Most practices now rely on a computerised practice management system to manage their appointment books, recalls, reminders and for storing patient records, bringing the dream of ‘paperless’ practice ever-closer.
Digital X-rays are routinely used in today’s dental practices, offering convenience, speed and detail that enables far more accurate diagnoses. No more chemicals to dispose of, much lower doses of radiation, the ability to attach a digital X-ray to the patient’s electronic record – what’s not to like?
Time is money
It’s understandable that in the early days, teething problems, high costs and the arrival of digital technology in a slightly ad-hoc manner, meant the promised digital dental revolution failed to properly materialise and left many exasperated by poor investments and obsolete technology.
However, all this is changing, and fast, as technological advancements make accuracy and aesthetics, thought impossible just five years ago, a reality. The taking of conventional impressions is a time-consuming routine dental procedure, it’s messy and also unpleasant for patients. So why should we be surprised that increasing numbers of clinicians are now moving towards taking digital impressions.
Using an intraoral scanner, such as the Cerec Omnicam, gives clinicians the choice of either sending the impression directly to the lab, designing and milling a restoration chairside using a CAD/CAM system, or having the option to do either, depending on the case. This is easy-to-use, state-of-the-art technology that is resulting in greater efficiency, reduced treatment times, greater treatment options and improved communication with technicians.
Just as smartphones keep us connected 24/7 to family, friends and the internet, digital technology is revolutionising the way in which communication between the practice and the laboratory takes place. Some early CAD/CAM systems were ‘closed’, restricting practices to using only the equipment and materials specified for those systems alone. But this is changing to meet market demands and today, more flexible ‘open’ STL formats offer fast and secure connectivity between the practice and the laboratory, without the worry of being tied to a single system or manufacturer.
The accuracy of every digital impression can be assessed by the clinician immediately after capture, crucially while the patient is still in the chair. Transferring the digital impression and prescription safely and securely to the laboratory is instantaneous. The speed of capture and transfer enables work on the restorative process to begin immediately, significantly reducing turnaround time.
Take that first step
There is a common misconception that adopting digital processes in practice is an all-or-nothing decision, but nothing could be further from the truth. In the same way as we have seamlessly integrated digital technology into our personal lives, so it can be professionally.
Most clinicians find an intraoral scanner is a great starting point for their digital journey – a simple transition from conventional impressions to a crystal-clear digital alternative that vastly improves the patient experience. Once an intraoral scanner is fully integrated into the daily workflow, it’s up to you to decide your next step.
Digital dentistry is here to stay and is heading in a direction that makes real sense for both clinicians and technicians who want to deliver outstanding clinical results. The future is now – so why not step on board?
To find out more about Dentsply Sirona’s digital solutions, please visit www.dentsplysirona.com.
Access free CPD webinars and product demonstrations at dentsplysirona.com/education.
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