Making Dental Technology Work for You



echnology! When it works, we love it. When it doesn’t, we yearn for the good old days of handwritten appointment books, the pegboard accounting system, hand-dipped x- rays held up to the light and just plain old amalgam! I may be exaggerating, but you get the point. Times are changing rapidly, and it’s difficult to keep abreast of all the new equipment, materials, data handling and diagnostics. One definition of technology might be the application of scientific information for practical purposes. In other words, how can dentists use advances in science to make their practices more efficient and effective? Often when the topic of technology is brought up many immediately think of computers. And although advances in computing and computer equipment are legend, that segment of technology is only the tip of the iceberg. As dental practice managers, most of us are continually looking for ways to save time, lower overhead costs, increase revenues, or simply make the work environment more pleasing and comfortable for ourselves, our staff and our patients.

I engaged Dr. John Flucke—a local dentist and nationally recognized expert on all things regarding dental technology—and asked if he could help us sort through the current technical revolution in den- tistry. With so many new technologies to choose from, surely there are some that might yield the greatest benefits and return on invest- ment. How does the average dentist who is already juggling many hats, find time to research and make decisions on future investments in technology? The fundamental change in how we all live, work and relate to one another is made possible by unprecedented advances in the physical, digital and biological worlds around us. As the technol- ogy editor for Dental Products Report magazine, Dr. Flucke brings a wealth of experience and information that can help us navigate the Fourth Industrial Revolution we all are currently a part of.

What general advice would you give to the dentist wanting to stay cur- rent with dental technology but not wanting to break the bank?

The secret to not breaking the bank is to budget for your tech. We have an ongoing monthly budget for technology. A certain number of dollars in profit every month is set aside for tech purchases. The big mistake that most doctors make is to look upon spending money as affecting their take-home pay profits. You set aside your salary first and then you watch the amount set aside for tech grow every

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month. When you go to make a purchase you are not taking money out of your salary, you’re using money already set aside to purchase technology.

Also, one of my favorite sayings is “You cannot eat an elephant in one bite, you eat it one bite at a time.” That applies to technology very well. No one should ever think of buying several pieces of tech at one time. Purchase in increments of “one device at a time”. Get really good at using that piece before purchasing more. That allows you and your staff to not be overwhelmed with so much change, and it also lets your tech budget recover, as well.

One component of evolving dental technology involves improved visual- ization. Talk a little about how a dentist can become a better diagnosti- cian and provider using enhanced magnification, lighting and imaging equipment.

Humans are incredibly visual creatures. We discern between 85 percent to 90 percent of our environment through our eyes. Primar- ily using an explorer for caries detection is a dated concept. Seeing teeth under high clinical magnification and with a high-intensity auxiliary light is now standard of care. Added to this mix is the use of visual caries detection systems such as DEXIS CariVu, Air Techniques Spectra, and others that allow the doctor access to never-before-seen parts of the caries process and to document these images. Whether you are going to restore or monitor these areas, either way, you now have a record of this in the patient’s digital chart.

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