It’s a Two-Way Street! Dental Practices and Patient Working Together For The Best Outcome

July 7th, 2015

communication

By: Virginia Moore, Moore Practice Success

We’ve probably all been in the position of being a patient and been kept waiting past our appointed time. Frustrating, isn’t it? We’ve all had that experience of having to pay for something necessary when we’d really like to spend our money on something “fun”.  In both those situations, whether you are the provider of the service, or the recipient, you can work to make it as pleasant an experience as possible.

 Staying on Schedule

Dental Practice:

  • As a dental team, agree on appropriate amount of time to allocate to different procedures. This gives you the best approach to staying on time.
  • Start your day on time. After the morning meeting, make sure patients are seated in the dental chair at their appointed time, not 5-10 minutes later.
  • If you routinely have 3 or more emergency patients each day, consider blocking time in the schedule. If less than, in the morning huddle have the clinical team determine best time for emergencies to be seen.

Patient:

  • Honor your appointed time. Barring an emergency situation, keep your appointments. Your good oral health depends on it!
  • If you need to make an appointment change, give at least 48 hours notice. This allows the practice to accommodate another patient who has treatment needs.
  • Arriving early can give you the time to relax, check emails, and in many practices, have a refreshment. Relaxed is a great way to start your appointment!

Financial Agreements

Dental Practice:

  • Always discuss the financial aspect of treatment before providing treatment. No one likes a surprise, especially a financial surprise!
  • Consider partnering with a third-party finance company that can offer your patients a longer period of time to pay (and sometimes, for a very low/or no-interest rate).
  • Whenever possible, discuss financial matters in the most private setting. None of us like having to share our financial concerns with more people than necessary.

Patient:

  •  Be upfront. Let the financial person know what you can commit to when discussing finances. None of us want to commit to something we can’t fulfill.  Ask about payment plans, savings for payment in full before treatment, or how treatment may be phased.
  •  Nothing’s for free! In over 25 years of consulting I’ve never seen a dentist’s fees that aren’t in keeping with their overhead. Most dental practices have significant overhead when you consider they are essentially a self-contained hospital; expenses of personnel, supplies, equipment, facility, lab, etc.
  •  If you are fortunate enough to have dental insurance, remember that it is not designed to cover all your dental needs. In fact, most annual dental benefit amounts are provided to maintain an already healthy situation. In other words, if you have dental needs that have been delayed, you will most likely have expense beyond your dental benefits.  When you think about it, it will be some of the best money you ever invest.  Your teeth and mouth work 24/7!

Working together is the key to the best outcome for all involved.

Here’s to the outcome of great dental health for all!

 

MooreMs. Moore has been bringing greater productivity and profitability to general dental and periodontal practices thru her consulting practice for the past 20 years. As a speaker, she has presented at the top dental meetings in the U.S. and has spoken at meetings in Canada, the Middle East and Asia. Ms. Moore is a contributor to ADA’s newest publication Expert Business Strategies, is a regular contributor to ADA’s Dental Practice Success, as well as authoring 2 books and co-authoring 8 books on practice management. Her passion is getting results that further the success of dental practices. Ms. Moore is a graduate of the ADA KEMP for dentists. She holds membership in the National Speaker’s Association and is a member and Past-President of Academy of Dental Management Consultants.

 

Tooth Taxi Stories from the Road – Veneta

June 1st, 2015

 

Tooth Taxi travels to Eastern Oregon cropped (2)

Veneta Elementary school Principal Olivia Johnson isn’t a math teacher but she figured out the perfect formula to help improve the oral health of children in her school.

DFO 3Olivia knew there were kids in her school that needed dental care and when her friend, Marquita Corliss with the Community Health Centers of Lane County, told her about the Tooth Taxi, Olivia got organized.  The school partnered with the Community Health Centers to conduct an initial dental screening so a list of students would be ready for the Tooth Taxi’s first visit.

Johnson got the staff involved early, and reached out to parents to let them know what the Tooth Taxi is, and that it was coming to town.  She used fliers, the school website and reader board, and plenty of phone calls to reach parents and recruit volunteers for the visit.  Johnson and school staffers worked with parents to complete necessary paper work for the children.  “It definitely takes a lot of effort on the schools part to reach out with parents,” Johnson says, adding she alone dedicated about 20 hour recruiting.  “I would do 200 hours if I knew it was going to pay off that way!”

DFO 2During the first visit, the Tooth Taxi screened 44 students and 84 percent needed treatment. Tooth Taxi staff led classroom oral health presentation for 159 students during that visit, and the dental team provided $26,596 in free dental services.

“That just made a huge difference and had such an impact,” Johnson says.

Since the Tooth Taxi has been visiting Veneta Elementary, Johnson has seen firsthand the impact of its services, including improved attendance and classroom participation by children. “I’ve seen kids who are actually happier. I’ve seen kids who are more on task. I’ve seen parents who are grateful for the support and the help, and the kids are excited to go to the Tooth Taxi,” she says.

DFO 4Carrie Peterson, the Tooth Taxi’s program manager, says the commitment of Johnson and other school staff, as well as engaged parents and volunteers, are among the qualities that make Veneta Elementary a model site for the Tooth Taxi.

During its most recent visit, the Tooth Taxi completed treatment on all of the children identified during the initial screening.  In total, visits by the Tooth Taxi have provided 133 students with dental screenings (identifying some serious health issues), 289 students received oral hygiene presentations in their classroom, and 150 children received preventive and restorative dental care on the van.  The total value of the donated dental services is conservatively estimated at $89,855.  More importantly, results show that the combination of committed school partners, parent involvement, oral health treatment and education, and repeat visits make a real difference for children.  It’s a winning formula for children who are not getting into see a dentist.

 

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Are e-Cigarettes Safe??

May 5th, 2015

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 Dr. Kim Wright

According to the May 2014 Scientific American online article e-cigarettes generally contain 3 ingredients, nicotine, propylene glycol and flavorings.  Nicotine is a highly addictive stimulant and now there is new science suggesting that it may also impair the immune system.  Propylene glycol is used to keep products moist.  When it is eaten or applied to the skin the FDA has given it a “generally recognized as safe” designation.  However, there is not much human scientific research on the effects when this substance is vaporized and inhaled into the lungs.

E-cigarettes utilize heating coils to vaporize the ingredients.  Metals from the coils and solder joints could potentially dislodge from the apparatus and particulates accumulate in the lungs.  Tin, chromium and nickel are among the majority of metals used in the coils but other heavy metals could be used since there is little regulation of these products.

The concerns are that the children appealing flavorings such as chocolate and bubble gum has contributed to the doubling of the U.S. high school student use from 4.7% in 2011 to 10% in 2012, as reported from the CDC.

The e-cigarette industry has used the “substantially similar” argument to prevent the FDA from stringent regulation of e-cigarettes as drug delivery devices but the same legislative laws that protect target marketing youngsters with regular tobacco cigarettes does not apply to e-cigarettes, a dichotomy that is unbelievable.

In summary, more controlled non-e-cigarette industry supported research must be conducted before declaring e-cigarettes as safe.

 

wrightDr. Wright is a general dentist practicing in West Linn, Oregon. Dr. Wright earned the prestigious Masters Award from the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) in 2011. She has actively served professional associations in leadership roles, such as the past president of the Oregon AGD and past trustee for the Oregon Dental Association (ODA).

Dental Practice Employment Law Update: After Measure 91, is Marijuana Just Another Legal Drug?

April 6th, 2015

By Randall Sutton, Saalfeld Griggs PC

Reliable and productive staff is the backbone of every dental practice. It is well known that substance abuse problems can interfere with work. Unreliable attendance, lack of focus, and poor decision making are common outcomes of staff substance abuse. For these reasons, many dental practices find it critical to maintain a drug-free workplace.

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the legalization of marijuana for recreational use poses new challenges for dental employers. If the experiences of Colorado and Washington are any indication, Oregon is likely to see a significant increase in the number of employees testing positive for marijuana.  In the year following legalization in both states, positive tests increased by over 20% according to a recent study by a national testing lab.  Moreover, the decriminalization of marijuana and resulting drop in prices, combined with tightened controls on prescription drugs, has led to a surge in the manufacture and importation of heroin into the United States from Mexico.  Given the level of dependability, skill and professionalism required of dental staff, these developments make an enforceable drug and alcohol policy and testing program more important than ever.

The recent change in the law has also brought changes to perceptions and expectations about marijuana use, particularly on the question of whether the drug should be subject to looser regulation by Oregon employers. As of July 1 of this year, marijuana will join alcohol as the only legal intoxicants that can be used recreationally. Given the significant change in the you’re your staff may erroneously anticipate that marijuana use will be treated the same as alcohol use. Under Oregon law, a dental practice cannot test for alcohol use unless a trained individual determines that the staff member is presently (and visibly) under the influence. Similarly, staff may believe that after July 1, 2015, they may use recreational marijuana away from work so long as they do not appear to be under its influence while at work.

However, testing protocols and Oregon employment laws treat marijuana very differently than alcohol, and the new law allowing recreational use does nothing to change that.  Marijuana is fairly unique among the drugs typically included in an employment-related test panel.  Unlike other drugs, which leave one’s system in a matter of hours or days, THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) is stored in fat cells in the body and tests may be positive even weeks or months after the staff member’s last use.  Second-hand smoke can also trigger positive results, but testing cutoff protocols are intended to screen out results that arise solely from spending time around pot-smoking friends or colleagues.  In any event, marijuana is unlike alcohol because there is no recognized test to determine whether your staff member is presently impaired by marijuana.

Not only are testing protocols different for alcohol and marijuana use, but Oregon laws treat them differently—even after legalization of recreational marijuana. Since Prohibition ended in the 1930s, alcohol has been legal at the federal level.  In contrast, marijuana continues to be illegal under federal law.  For employers, this distinction is critical.  Given that federal law continues to identify marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance with no accepted medical use, the Oregon Supreme Court held in a 2010 decision that Oregon employers can enforce zero tolerance policies, even against authorized medical marijuana users. Measure 91 does little to change that holding, as the new law specifically does not “amend or affect in any way any state or federal law pertaining to employment matters.”

In other words, Measure 91 does not require that you abandon zero tolerance drug and alcohol policies or make significant changes to testing protocols. But, in light of changing perceptions about the drug, we recommend that our dental clients update their policies to address the issue of recreational marijuana use and make it clear that the drug is still illegal under federal law and prohibited under the practice’s drug and alcohol policy.

This is also a good time to ensure that your drug and alcohol policy strictly complies with the myriad of complex drug testing legal requirements.  In Oregon, there are restrictive regulations governing whether or not a termination resulting from a positive drug test affects the staff member’s ability to collect unemployment benefits, and it can be challenging to win unemployment appeals if the practice’s policy is not sound and all regulations are not followed. For these reasons, dental practices should work with employment counsel to review and update their drug and alcohol policies before recreational marijuana is decriminalized on July 1st.

 

Randall Sutton_Saalfeld GriggsSaalfeld Griggs PC is a law firm serving dental practices throughout Oregon and Washington. Randall Sutton is the partner in charge of the firm’s Employment Law and Litigation Practice Group.  He advises dentists on a wide variety of employment matters and represents dental practices in litigation.  www.sglaw.com

Addiction

February 2nd, 2015

By Mark M. Storer, DDS

The terms “substance abuse” and “addiction” have always had negative connotations, and most people associate these terms with a moral failing or weakness. It is very difficult for people unaffected by  addiction to view the entire process as a disease.

The AMA first classified addiction as a disease in 1953.  It is defined as “ a primary, chronic, and neurobiological  disease with genetic, psycho-social, and environmental factors influencing its development”.  Addiction is characterized by impaired control over drug use, continued use despite harm, and craving the use of the drug when unavailable.

Dentists should be concerned about addiction because there are alarming statistics that show a tremendous increase in the amount of drugs, including alcohol, that are being abused by the general population:

  • the most widely abused drugs are oxycodone, valium, xanax, and adderall; opioids, CNS depressants, and CNS stimulants
  • non-medical use of prescription drugs occurs by seven million Americans per month, which is greater than the number abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, and inhalants
  • the number of drug overdoses from prescription narcotics has exceeded deaths from heroin or cocaine overdoses.
  • drug overdoses have become the ninth leading cause of death in the United States, exceeding the number of deaths caused by auto accidents.
  • adults between the ages of 18 and 25 years make up the highest percentage of non medical use of prescription drugs.

With these statistics in mind, it becomes evident that as dentists, we are very likely to treat patients who are abusing drugs, have employees with substance abuse issues, or deal directly with addiction through our own abuse, or that of a family member or friend.

 

StorerDr. Storer, a 1976 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, obtained his Doctorate of Dental Surgery from Loyola University in 1980.  Upon graduation, he completed a Residency Program in Hospital Dentistry at Illinois Masonic Medical Center in 1981. Dr. Storer was an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Oral Diagnosis at Loyola University School of Dentistry, and for the past 32 years has been a member of the Attending  Medical  Staff at Resurrection Medical Center, where he is currently the Chairman of the Department Dental Services and a member of both  the Credentials and the Bylaws Committees. Dr. Storer is also a clinical instructor and attending dentist in the Residency Program of Emergency Medicine at Resurrection, and is a guest lecturer for the Department of  Family Practice. Dr. Storer and his wife Katie have five children, Jeanette, Tim, Chris, Courtney, and Corey, and they reside in Wilmette‘ Illinois.

Global Diagnosis In Dentistry

January 12th, 2015

By William Robbins, DDS, MA

With the increased emphasis on interdisciplinary treatment in recent years, the deficiencies associated with traditional methods of diagnosis and treatment planning have become more evident and problematic. Many years ago when I was in dental school, I learned to gather a lot of information about the patient and then sit down and make a treatment plan. Dentistry was much simpler in those days. In a complex patient, the treatment plan was primarily dictated by information provided by study casts which were mounted on a sophisticated articulator in centric relation. At that time in history, the primary tools available for treating the complex restorative patient were functional crown lengthening surgery and increasing the vertical dimension of occlusion. The treatment plan was simply based on restorative space, anterior tooth coupling and resistance and retention form of the final preparations, with no focus on placing the teeth in the correct position in the face.  Practitioners did not have access to advanced periodontal, orthodontic, orthognathic surgery and plastic surgery tools that are currently available. With the advent and common usage of these new treatment modalities, the historical method of diagnosis and treatment planning is no longer adequately serving our profession. This style of treatment planning is only effective when prescribing single tooth dentistry. When the case becomes more complex, the old style of treatment planning doesn’t tell the dentist where the teeth and supporting structures fit into the patient’s face.

Global Diagnosis is a treatment planning strategy that guides the dentist through the process of diagnosing and sequencing an interdisciplinary treatment plan. It provides a systematic approach to diagnosis and treatment planning the complex interdisciplinary dental patient with a common language that may be used by the orthodontist, periodontist, and oral and maxillofacial surgeon, as well as the restorative dentist.

 

Robbins photoDr.  Robbins maintains a full-time private practice and is Clinical Professor in the Department of Comprehensive Dentistry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School.  He graduated from the University of Tennessee Dental School in 1973.  He completed a rotating internship at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Leavenworth, Kansas and a 2-year General Practice Residency at the V.A. Hospital in San Diego, California.  Dr. Robbins has published over 80 articles, abstracts, and chapters on a wide range of dental subjects. He coauthored a textbook, Fundamentals of Operative Dentistry – A Contemporary Approach.  He is a diplomat of the Federal Services Board of General Dentistry and the American Board of General Dentistry. He is past president of the American Board of General Dentistry, the Academy of Operative Dentistry, the Southwest Academy of Restorative Dentistry, and is currently president of the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry.

Why don’t all my fans see all my posts in their newsfeed?

December 15th, 2014

Facebook phoneBy Edward J. Zuckerberg, D.D.S.

 

If you are like most Facebook business page owners, you are probably wondering why not all of your posts reach everyone who has subscribed to your page, especially if you were one of the first to build a Facebook page for your business back in 2008 when the feature first rolled out.  Back then, Facebook had just reached the 100 million user milestone and businesses were just starting to develop pages.  Contrast that with 1.3 billion individual users today and 30 million business pages.  30 million may not seem like a lot compared to the number of individual users, but when you consider that most businesses post more often than individual users and use tools available only to businesses to increase newsfeed penetration, the number is significant.  The net result is that competition for the limited space at the top of the newsfeed is ever increasing.  The newsfeed is the heart of Facebook’s product offering.  It’s the default screen that users see when they first log in to the site and it’s the place where users get the personalized information that keeps them glued to the site an average of 20 minutes a day, and for many, an hour or more each day.  It is in Facebook’s best interest to have the content here be of high value and interest to the user to sustain them on the site longer, generate more page views, clicks on ads and links and generally create more value for advertisers that allows them to charge higher ad rates.

So how do they make the experience the best it can be for their users?  The key is their algorithm to determine the popularity or value of each post to the users.  The formula favors posts that have generated a lot of engagement.  This is measurable whenever a post gets a like, comment or share, or a link in the post is clicked on.  The more measurable engagement, the higher the score a post gets and the higher the likelihood that the post will viewable in the newsfeed among fans in the case of a business post, or among friends in the case of a personal profile post.  In addition friend statuses are divided further into categories such as close friends and family which naturally score higher.  Also, any individuals and businesses which a user has engaged with in the past will be assumed to have a special interest to the user that will allow those posts to score higher as well.  Lastly, only businesses are allowed to pay to increase newsfeed penetration of their posts.  The two most popular methods are to directly boost a particular post which will allow a business to gain increased views of a post that they believe to be valuable to gain a large reach, or to create a sponsored post which can be used to reach the newsfeeds not only of existing fans, but also to prospective new clients who might be personal friends of existing fans or who might fall into some demographic that Facebook has allowed the business to use to target audiences for their messages.

The bottom line is that in order for your posts to reach as high a percentage as possible of your target audience, you need valuable content that your users will engage with and a budget to boost your messages to compete with the ever increasing numbers of businesses that are utilizing Social Media Marketing in an effort to reach their audiences.

 

ZuckerbergDr. Zuckerberg maintains two facebook pages: Facebook.com/painlesssocialmedia to support other Dental Offices and small businesses in their social media marketing efforts and facebook.com/painlessdrz for the patients of his Dental Practice.

Using Attachments in Dental Treatment Planning

November 14th, 2014

By George Bambara, DMD, MS, FACD, FICD

Before I discuss how using dental attachments allowed me to enhance my treatment planning skills, I would like to give credit to one of my dental school professors who recently passed away, Dr William Cinotti; a man and a friend who knew no boundaries and who contributed greatly to my professional development.

Using attachments in dental treatment planning simply requires a knowledge of how attachments are designed to allow the prostheses to move in certain directions, if not all directions. Using attachments does not change how we fabricate our crown and bridge, partial dentures, overdenture and segmented fixed bridgework. We continue to follow all the steps that lead us to creating a successful prosthesis except that attachments are used in the process.

Attachments are rigid or resilient connectors that redirect the forces of occlusion. By being rigid, occlusal forces can be redirected to tooth or implant bearing areas and away from maxillary or mandibular ridges as in the case of partial dentures or overdentures. By using resilient attachments, those same occlusal forces can be redirected to the maxillaiary or mandibular ridges for support since the tooth or implant bearing areas may not be suitable to bear most of the chewing forces.

Segmenting fixed bridges simply means to fabricate a long span fixed bridge into two or more components utilizing a rigid or resilient attachment between the segments. Using attachments in this fashion creates shorter spanning bridgework that is easier to cast and seat while creating a rigid or resilient unit. A resilient unit acts as a stress releaser or stress breaker, depending on the attachment used while a rigid unit can function exactly as a cast fixed bridge with the ability for easier retrieval.

When using attachments, the first things that must be considered is how this newly designed prosthesis will function. Will it be rigid or resilient? Will it be tooth or implant supported or tissue supported? Evaluation of the remaining teeth or implants in terms of number, position and periodontal condition has to considered to determine exactly how much load the teeth, implants or ridges can bear. We need to determine our philosophy on loading teeth, implants and tissue and examine carefully what is on the opposite arch. Then, select the attachment that will suit our treatment planning purposes. Maxillary arches are usually bound down areas with much surface area and firm supportive areas  Here, in many cases, rigid attachments can be used. The mandible, which has less surface area and less supportive areas can benefit from either rigid or resilient attachments depending on the type of prosthesis designed as well as the existing or planned prosthesis for the opposing arch integration.

In consideration of all these factors, attachment dentistry can provide the opportunity to create long lasting prostheses and many happy and satisfied patients.

 

DrGeorgeEBambara-863kbDr. Bambara is on faculty at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine and holds Fellowships in the American College of Dentists, the International College of Dentists, and the International Academy of Dento-Facial Esthetics. He is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the College of Staten Island and lectures nationally and internationally on attachment prosthetics.  He has been selected as one of Dentistry Today’s Leaders in Continuing Education for the past seven years. Dr Bambara has published articles on attachment dentistry and has authored a chapter on Precision and Semi-Precision Attachments in the recently published textbook Contemporary Esthetic Dentistry.

 

Dental Professionals Role in Early Intervention of Methamphetamine Addiction

October 7th, 2014

By Noel Brandon Kelsch, RDH

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You never know just who you might get to sit next to on a plane and what you might learn. This past flight for me was a great learning experience.

I had a dental professional sit next to me and she soon discovered I was working on my slides for a course on the impact of meth.  She told me she has never seen anyone with a methamphetamine addiction and that she is sure of it. She saw no reason to attend a lecture about meth because none of her patients would EVER consider doing anything like that, they were educated, well informed professionals in general. She lived in a suburb where things like that just did not happen. “That happens in rural areas and big cities.” She said. She also explained to me that seizure rates had been cut in half in her state and that the war on drugs was well on the way to being resolved there.

Meth does not care where you went to school. Nor does it care what your profession is, how much money you make or what area you live in. The crisis this drug creates impacts all age and economic levels of our society, including adult professionals, teenagers and children. Because most people don’t believe someone they know could be using or don’t realize that this drug is available and abused by people at all levels of our society regardless of income or ethnic background, it sometimes interferes with diagnosis.

The seizure of meth labs across the country has gone down. That is exciting! The problem is that because of new systems of manufacturing it no longer requires a complete lab to create meth. For example the “shake and bake” method uses a liter soda bottle and has increasing emergency room visits as this very explosive process comes into play. Successes are happening with a decline in use in some areas, but the war is not over. Early intervention plays a major role.

All dental professionals have a role that is vital in early intervention because the first signs of meth use appear in the mouth. This non-pre-judicial drug is enormously addictive and eventually rots the teeth down to the gum line.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2012 age 12 and older 4.6 percent have used meth sometime in their life. That means for every 100 people that sit in your dental chair 4.6 percent of them have used meth sometime in their life. It is so vital to have that information before you treat them.

Early warning signs and symptoms exhibited by people using methamphamine:

•   Obvious deterioration of teeth

•   Malnourished and disheveled appearance

•   Abnormal vital signs

•   Grinding of teeth

•   Pale complexion and red eyes

•   Aging in appearance

•   Irritability or euphoria

•   Nervousness; sweaty and clammy skin

Dental professionals play a role in early intervention by connecting patients to the resources they need for drug rehabilitation, treatment and recovery. With greater awareness, the odds for early intervention and positive outcomes increase.

 

 

Dentistry goes High Tech

September 2nd, 2014

By Paul Feuerstein, DMD

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The world of computers and smart devices has not escaped dentistry. Simple things like looking for cavities with a little bent sharp wire (the explorer), waiting for xrays to be developed or having a mouthful of putty impressions are things of the past. Also the way that small cavities are treated is changing with new chemistry including calcium that can replenish some lost enamel.

A new buzz word in dentistry is CAMBRA- Caries Management By Risk Assessment.  It basically states that the dentist does not need to pick up the dental handpiece very time there is a suspicious lesion.  There are many cases where you will get a “stick” and there is not conclusive radiographic evidence that there are caries in that tooth. If this is a patient with a high level of oral hygiene and few cavities, vs one who sits with a can of Mountain Dew at their desk all day, the proposed treatment is different.  New devices allow the dentist to measure the small cavities with lasers, heat and fluorescence and give a measurable marker to determine if this is something to fill, perhaps watch digitally or treat with new fluorides and recalcification products.

Traditional film xrays have been replaced by digital sensors which are faster, more accurate, use less radiation and don’t need environmentally unfriendly developing chemicals.  New advances have also brought us 3D xrays (Conebeam CT)  to enhance diagnosis and treatment planning. The dentist can now essentially do a CT scan on a tooth, group of teeth or the jaws. This is quite helpful in diagnosing patient problems as well as helping guide the development of a child’s teeth. Formerly difficult to diagnose problems such as root fractures, precise location of pathology or anatomical structures is now extremely accurate. Planning for tooth replacement with implants has also become more predictable, and in the realm of the general practitioners.

Impressions and laboratory techniques have also gone digital with  3D optical scanning devices replacing the puttys in the mouth, and CAD/CAM allows dental  labs to create extremely accurate restorations out of new more aesthetic materials that are more durable than ever before. This has also spilled right into the dental office with new milling units and software that allow the dentist to create the final restoration in just one visit so that patient does not have to come back for the “final” one.

In recent months, there has been an amazing convergence of these technologies.  Digital intraoral scans are being merged with Conebeam 3D scans. Many companies have standardized their devices allowing integration of components from different companies (like stereo components) creating more choices for the dentists to be able to personalize some of these systems. This comes with a large amount of new studying of the industry, which to some is troubling but to most is exciting.

It is a great time to be a dentist and a better one to be a patient.

FeuersteinDr. Feuerstein received his undergraduate training at SUNY Stony Brook studying chemistry, engineering, computer science and music. A 1972 graduate of UNJMD he maintains a general practice in Massachusetts. He installed one of the first in-office computers in 1978, teaching and consulting since then. As Technology Editor of Dental Economics, author of several technology articles, he lectures at many national and local dental meetings. His work with CAD/CAM helped develop the LAVA COS intraoral scanning system.  He was named Clinician of the Year at the 2010 Yankee Dental Congress and is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in General Dentistry at Tufts University.