Written by: Mitra Bolouri, D.D.S. (Dallas County Dental Society Member)
Today’s dental office has greatly evolved in the past few decades. Gone are paper charts and developing x-rays in the dark room as most dentists have adopted digital records and radiographs. Attend any dental conference and you can talk to any vendor who thinks the company and product they’re selling is the latest and greatest advancement. But with so many options and with a set budget, how can a dentist decide which product will work best in their office and allow them to better serve their patients?
Research is key to deciding what you and your office should invest in. Researching both the products you may be considering as well as what your “competition” may be using. If none of the dentists in your area are using a new technology, investing in it may attract new patients or patients may view it as unnecessary, making it not worth the price you put into it. Many dentists do their research by turning towards social media; by asking colleagues in dentist forums or in private Facebook groups, you may find that the latest x-ray sensor doesn’t stand up to the test of time or doesn’t play well with the software your office may be using.
Increasing patient comfort is often a high priority when deciding what new technology to utilize. Will this decrease patient fear? Will this really allow me to anesthetize a patient without any pain? Fifty percent of Americans avoid going to the dentist due to anxiety or fear, according to a study by Columbia Dental School and the University of Washington. By catering to those who are afraid, you will increase your patient base and allow them to gain access to treatment they may need. Gone are the days where a dentist informed a patient what they needed and the patient then scheduled an appointment for treatment. With digital x-rays, intraoral photos, and digital scans, the patient becomes an equal in the operatory and we not only can discuss our findings with them but show them as well. They can take ownership of their oral health and make their own decisions based on what we discuss.
Before taking the plunge, it may be wise to attend a dental conference where you can not only see products in person, but see what a competing company is offering as well. Many companies will allow you to try out products in your office before making a commitment. What works well in the hands of one dentist may not work well in your hands. Many dentists also turn to Facebook groups or other online groups to try to negotiate better deals on products; by having several dentists commit to buying a product at the same time, some companies may offer a discount that one individual dentist may not be able to get on their own.
And it’s important to remember, that just like the newest iPhone, dental technology is constantly changing. What may be deemed the newest and greatest innovation this year will most likely become outdated or even obsolete in a year or two. Spend your money wisely and budget accordingly!