Digital dentistry has been an evolving part of dentistry for the last several decades. Starting with tomography developments in the early ’60s to the first milled restoration in the ’80s, digital dental labs have entirely changed the dental field. With their implementation, doctors have noted an increased ability to build trust with patients, leading to increased loyalty from patients.
Today, clinicians can incorporate digital workflows into their practices through data capture utilizing intraoral scanners for digital impressions and/or diagnostics. Clinicians are also able to utilize cone-beam computed tomography for impressions and diagnostics as well.
These technologies offer an overall improved and more efficient workflow once properly incorporated.
Ultimate Dental Lab was an early adopter of digital technologies and has fully embraced computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing. Early on, we discovered the value that digital technologies had on every step of the manufacturing process, from case planning all the way through to the finished product.
While the technology has had some bumps early on, it has only improved over time and has effectively changed dentistry forever.
The benefits for clinicians who incorporate digital workflows are immense. Digital technologies increase case accuracy, consistency, speed, and provide unmatched predictability.
Patients feel that the process is completely transparent; building trust and confidence with the clinician. Patients are also a lot more likely to refer other patients to a digital practice. A smooth dental experience is definitely enough to entice patients to speak about their experiences with friends and family.
One early digital technology used in the dental office was the intraoral camera. Digital intraoral cameras revolutionized communication between the clinician and the patient. The camera, coupled with a large monitor, lets the patient observe what the doctor observes.
During this part of an exam, the following types of visible pathology can and should be shared:
- Plaque buildup
- Broken/ fractured teeth
- Root exposure
- Signs of infection or lesions
This creates trust and allows for conversations regarding the findings and treatment options. While the main benefit is effective communication, other benefits include the ability to have digital file capture for patient records and submission for insurance claims.
Intraoral Scanner: Patient Preference
Today, digital intraoral scanner usage is growing and vastly improving workflows in a variety of dental procedures. As more and more clinicians adopt this technology, intraoral imaging will eventually replace conventional impressions. The dramatic increase in digital impression use is directly related to the shortcomings and inaccuracies that are inherent with traditional impression methods. Examples of traditional dental lab issues can be found below:
- Traditional impressions are time-consuming.
- Impression material can activate a patient’s gag reflex.
- Inaccuracies are not revealed until the impression is poured in stone, requiring the patient to come back for additional impressions.
Patients prefer the use of intraoral scanners over traditional methods. As with the digital intraoral cameras, patients are able to see their scans on the screen, gaining an added level of trust in the clinician. The patient becomes involved in the treatment, and because the technology is relatively new, patients often feel like they are receiving advanced dental care and are more likely to share their positive experiences.
In addition, when they see themselves in a scan, this can open a lot of positive conversation about their oral health. These discussions lead to patients placing greater confidence in clinicians, which greatly improves patient treatment acceptance.
Additional benefits of the intraoral scanner are:
- The scanning procedure is markedly fast, saving time for both the clinician and the patient.
- The scans are incredibly accurate.
- Eliminates the choking and gagging often caused by traditional impression methods.
- This method offers more efficient processes. If the scan is not satisfactory, it can easily be redone. Determining the accuracy of the scan can be done in real-time while the patient is still in the office.
Intraoral scanners are being used in a wide variety of dental procedures. They are being used for restoration fabrication and play a large role in surgery, orthodontic procedures, and treatment planning. The ability to produce surgery guides, provisionals, appliances, and custom implant abutments are more accessible and more efficient through scanning.
Digital technology has greatly improved the comprehensive dental exam. They are faster, more pleasant, more accurate, and more transparent. Patients are more involved with the initial diagnostic evaluation and can see the issues and participate more directly in the proposed treatment options. Digital dentistry gives patients the best care they can get and this is the name of the game.
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