COLTENE’s Mark Allen: Digital technology isn’t our future, it’s our present
The power of technology to bring us together has never been more evident. It doesn’t just connect us; it supports us. Technology is part of the fabric of both our home and our work lives. In dentistry, technology has enabled better diagnostics, more efficient treatment delivery, the development of tools to keep patients’ mouths hygienic between appointments – it’s even streamlined practice management.
There is not one area that has not been improved by it; so why is digital dentistry still described as the “future”? Digital technology is commonplace nearly everywhere else in our lives, so why aren’t more dentists offering a digital service? Over the last few years, you will have noticed the relentless promotion of “going digital” by incorporating digital technology into your practice, or replacing methods and processes with the latest innovations.
The problem is when you keep seeing words like “revolutionary” and “groundbreaking” there’s a sense of not being able to see the wood for the trees. You’ll ask is XYZ product worth the money, or will it be out of date soon? Crucially, what would be the advantages to your patients?
If a piece of digital tech, albeit impressive, does not upgrade patient services and allow you to do more, offer more and offer it better, is it worth it? The idea of introducing new procedures to your workflow is surely a headache no one needs at the moment. But digital technology is just a medium and like any medium, its effectiveness depends on how it is used.
The right digital technology, used at the right time, will allow you to give your patients a more efficient, simpler and more comfortable experience, even for the most complex procedures. Better treatment also means better value. Expectations have never been higher and although your patients will be willing to pay for the best, being able to offer a quality, yet good-value treatment package will increase their loyalty, their trust in you and enhance your reputation.
Happy patients are your best marketing tool – positive word of mouth can increase footfall, the number of clicks to your website, gain 5-star reviews, and will keep people coming back for more.
Complex treatment and digital
If we consider a complex treatment like root canal therapy, balancing the advantages of digital technology with the skills of a specialist and the empathetic approach that all patients require from a dentist, can guarantee successful delivery.
If you take endodontic referrals, you will have a shorter time to establish their acceptance. If you deliver root canal work to “regulars” alongside general dentistry, they may not jump to say “yes” either, even if they’ve known you for years. It has an (unfair, incorrect) reputation for being painful and invasive, with people wondering if the benefits are enough of a carrot to put themselves through it.
They know that in the short-term they can manage the pain with over-the-counter relief; one day they may wake up and think it has gone for good. But they can’t avoid treatment forever and, if they delay, it may end up being less straightforward than if the problem was intercepted early.
If you have made a recommendation for root canal therapy, it is imperative for a patient’s long-term oral health that they agree to go ahead. Using an empathic approach, the advantages of the treatment can be clearly laid out. Empathy will allow you to reassure a concerned patient that you are proposing care that is appropriate and in their best interests.
You can allay any fears that they may have of a lengthy, painful procedure and tell them that you will deliver their treatment efficiently and comfortably. You’ll do this by using your specialist skills and experience, with the best tools and equipment, which can include digital innovations specifically developed to enable excellent endodontics. These innovations will improve your precision and their comfort, meaning a shorter time in the chair and reduced risk of retreatment.
Digital equipment is now available to allow autonomous navigation in the endodontic canal. The CanalPro™ Jeni (top) newly launched by COLTENE (https://www.coltene.com/) provides digital assistance for safe and efficient canal preparation, which respects and adapts to the unique anatomy of the individual patient. An automatic endomotor with integrated apex locator, this is a system that is simple and intuitive and will support a stable long-term result.
Digital technology can’t be described as the “future” of dentistry anymore – it’s here now, to upgrade your dentistry. Digital technology supports dentists and specialists in the delivery of care that returns patients to, and keeps them in, optimum oral health for life. Choose the right digital solutions for you, to work alongside great technique and an empathic, patient-focussed approach, and you will enhance every element of your service.