Unlocking Your Practice's Full Potential
Unlocking Your Practice's Full Potential
Look beyond the price tag of an investment and find the technology that can simplify treatment and improve clinical outcomes. You may just find yourself with more satisfied patients, and, ultimately, greater profitability.
When it comes to assessing ROI, most of us are programmed to look strictly at financial gain. This is certainly true in the case of dental technology, where it seems the only way to justify a high price tag is a guarantee that the new product or equipment will pay for itself…and then some.
When used to its full potential, dental technology can be a great way to drive more profit into the practice—but that’s not all it can do. Instead of viewing digital dentistry through a financial lens alone, imagine how it can drive results and grow the practice beyond just dollars and cents.
“The key areas where technology can impact a practice are workflow, quality of patient care, and marketing,” said Dr. Shane Ricci, a DPS Editorial Advisory Board member who practices in Plano, TX. He has learned from experience that ROI isn’t so much about an investment, but how you use it.
“There’s almost no technology in dentistry today that won’t provide a great ROI,” said Dr. Ricci. “But, if you are not committed to making it part of your systems, or you let your intraoral scanner gather dust while a patient is in the chair gagging from impression material, then there’s always the chance you won’t see the ROI you hoped for.”
When clinicians use the intraoral scanner, laser, CBCT imaging unit, or 3D printer they’ve purchased as part of a dedicated workflow, these tools can create an enhanced dental experience. “You will not only see the ROI you hoped for, but you’ll also see an improvement in your diagnosis, patient experience, consistency, and final results,” Dr. Ricci added.
"The key areas where technology can impact a practice are workflow, quality of patient care, and marketing.”
Marketing Through Technology
Discovering new and creative ways to market the practice and encourage new patients to walk through the door is top of mind for every practice owner, especially in today’s complex digital world. After all, if your practice doesn’t have an online presence, it virtually doesn’t exist. But beyond website design and social media marketing, technology itself can pave a clearer path toward an exceptional final result, which, as Dr. Ricci pointed out, patients are willing to sacrifice their time and expense to ensure.
“At the end of the day, a dentist is judged by the end result more than any other aspect of treatment, and digital tools can drastically improve the predictability and accuracy of the final outcome to provide exceptional restorations,” he said.
Secondary to improved final results is creating a streamlined process that leads to happy patients and a full schedule. Technology can save patients from having to return for multiple appointments, reduce treatment steps and third-party involvement, and allow clinicians to create a much more memorable experience for their patients. This, in turn, creates positive patient testimonials and increased referrals.
“Now, when the patient is telling everyone how happy they are with their smile and someone asks them who the dentist is that did such amazing work, your name comes up. Then, those new patients come into your practice,” said Dr. Ricci.
Building a more successful practice often involves a combination of two approaches: using the right technology and digital tools to create accurate and predictable final results, and employing a fast and simple treatment process. “Patients will sing your praises from the rooftops if you can generate success with both exceptional final results and a simplified process,” he added.
The technologies that span the following pages cover every area of dentistry—from 2D and 3D imaging and digital impression systems to 3D printing, in-office milling, and practice marketing. As you learn more about these tools and equipment, keep in mind how they can work together to positively impact your workflows, patient care, and practice marketing, which, ultimately, will lead to many more dollars and cents.
Practice Marketing Tools
Practice marketing is often an overlooked category in dental technology. Although technology alone can help market your practice, there’s no shortage of tools that can boost social media presence, streamline patient education, encourage patient reviews and referrals, and bring your practice website to the top of an internet search.
An easy-to-use patient communication system, Lighthouse 360, a Henry Schein One service, offers tools such as automated appointment reminders and phone confi rmations, as well as Patient FastTrack, which automatically detects last-minute cancellations and reaches out to patients to fill the opening.
VivioSites helps independent dentists grow their practices through website, SEO, and social media marketing. Fresh and engaging content is posted 3 to 5 times a week on social media pages to engage the practice's community and drive referrals, while an SEO plan ensures the professional and user-friendly website that VivioSites designs appears on the first page of an internet search.
Syncing with existing practice software, Solutionreach helps you retain, reactivate, acquire, and educate patients. The Solutionreach platform offers tools for targeted patient outreach that leverage social media and online patient reviews, while providing effective reputation management.
RevenueWell offers a robust marketing platform that includes automatic patient communication, patient newsletters and marketing campaigns, appointment reminders, reputation management, custom patient portals, social media management, and quick payment processing. RevenueWell Forms let you create customized online forms for new patient registration, treatment planning, and more, while syncing completed forms back to your practice management system.
Weave streamlines patient communication through two-way texting, appointment quick-fill, missed call texts, mass emails, and task lists. Weave Reviews post on Google, Facebook, and industry review sites like Healthgrades to help boost your practice’s reputation and referrals. If a patient leaves a negative review, you’ll receive a notification So you can follow up to offer help.
Demandforce from Henry Schein One allows you to keep patients informed with email, text, and voice-automated appointment reminders. To attract new patients, the service allows you to request reviews through text messages and automatically push patient reviews to Google. A new feature allows you to showcase patient reviews on top sites, view and respond to reviews, and track competitors’ reviews.
As digital imaging becomes the standard of care, intraoral sensor technology has drastically improved to create sensors that are small and comfortable, while providing sharp and clear diagnostic images. The ability to see subtle details is crucial, not only during the diagnostic process, but when communicating with patients about their treatment options.
The RVG 6200 from Carestream features a user-friendly sharpness filter and dynamic slider bar that makes it easy to see contrast changes in real time. A CS Adapt module facilitates personalized image processing by letting practitioners choose from 40 preset image enhancement filters or create up to 4 of their own settings.
Dentsply Sirona’s new Schick AE digital sensor features the same outstanding image quality, filtering enhancements, and customizations as its predecessor, Schick 33, while offering more resistance to fluctuations in exposure parameters, as well as new USB interface protected connection plugs for additional durability.
Producing incredibly clear images, the Dream Sensor from DentiMax uses a CMOS active pixel chip, which includes a high sensitive scintillator with a fiber-optic plate and built-in circuit board. The sensor bridges to virtually all dental software packages. Each Dream Sensor has rounded, beveled corners; the adult-size sensor takes a large x-ray footprint, while the youth-size sensor is a perfect fit for smaller mouths.
Offering an image resolution of 20 lp/mm, Planmeca ProSensor HD captures sharp, low-noise, high-contrast images with a fiberoptic layer. A sophisticated magnetic connector makes it easy to attach the sensor using only one hand, while its white color enhances visibility to simplify patient positioning.
Offering a cable-to-USB connection, KaVo Kerr’s DEXIS Titanium features a new motion-activated feature that allows you to capture x-rays without touching your computer. The sensor is designed to reduce noise, clean data, and safeguard image integrity, and will automatically turn off to protect patients from unnecessary radiation if an issue is detected.
Delivering comfort and flexibility, Air Techniques’ ScanX PSPs are 30 times thinner than direct-wired sensors and can capture nearly 40% more anatomy. These thin and flexible PSPs are especially accommodating for those with TMJ issues, large tori, or gag reflexes, as well as children and elderly patients.
High-quality digital imaging is vital to diagnostic and treatment processes— for surgeons, endodontists, and every general dentist. As 3D CBCT imaging makes its way into more and more operatories, many imaging systems have started to combine 2D and 3D capabilities into one unit.
The KaVo ORTHOPANTOMOGRAPH OP 3D is a 3-in-1 platform for the entire maxillofacial region that offers panoramic, cephalometric, and 3D imaging. The unit allows for a versatile selection of FOVs and resolutions, along with metal artifact reduction (MAR) technology and a QUICKcompose feature, which allows users to view the captured images immediately after the scan.
Featuring dual modality panoramic and 3D imaging, the CS 9300 by Carestream Dental delivers highly detailed images that are ideal for a range of clinical applications—including implantology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, and orthodontics. The system features up to seven selectable FOVs, low-dose modes, and an optional cephalometric module.
An ideal entry point into CBCT, the Planmeca ProMax 3D s allows users to select the ideal resolution, voxel size, and exposure value based on clinical need. The 2D and 3D imaging unit uses a Planmeca CALM algorithm to correct patient movement artefacts from CBCT images, and can be applied either before or after an imaging protocol.
Dentsply Sirona’s Orthophos SL 3D can produce 3D images in the same dose range of 2D x rays with up to an 80- m resolution. A Direct Conversion Sensor (DCS) allows x-rays to be converted directly into electrical signals, which means there are no signal losses due to light conversion and images are uniquely sharp, even at an extremely low dose.
A lightweight and compact imaging unit that can fit into virtually any office, ACTEON’s X-Mind Prime offers 24 panoramic and 32 CBCT options to meet the needs of many clinical applications, including implantology, endodontics, and sinus imaging. A minimum voxel size of 87.5 _m creates detailed, 3D reconstructions of dental anomalies, maxillofacial diseases, bone tissue morphology, and more.
Digital Impression Systems
Digital impression systems and the 3D models they create simplify the restorative process by enabling easy collaboration with laboratories and chairside milling units—not to mention that they eliminate the patient discomfort associated with traditional impression-taking.
Align Technology’s iTero Element 2 intraoral scanner brings visualization to a whole new level with features like TimeLapse Technology, which compares past scans with present-day scans to measure orthodontic movement or areas of tooth wear and abrasion. The intuitive intraoral scanner uses a long-lasting, rechargeable battery and can perform a full arch in as little as 60 seconds—streamlining both orthodontic and restorative workflows.
Dentsply Sirona’s CEREC Primescan offers seamless, validated, and open data transfer options so that labs and other third parties instantly receive high-resolution models. An innovative Smart Pixel Sensor and dynamic depth scan technology ensure perfect sharpness—even in depths up to 20 mm—while the scanner consolidates over 50,000 images per second for fast processing of the precise data the software needs.
A compact and easy-touse intraoral scanner, the Planmeca Emerald S captures digital impressions in vivid and lifelike colors to help achieve predictable results—from single-unit and multiunit restorations to full arches. The scanner allows imports and exports in both STL and PLY file formats, and it supports varying workflows for several specialties, including prosthodontics, orthodontics, and implantology.
With its speed and powderless system, the Medit i500 enables a smoother scanning experience, shortened turnaround times, and increased office productivity. By using an open CAD/CAM system, the Medit i500 allows clinicians to export STL files out of Medit LINK and share them with preferred labs, or easily transfer files and track progress throughout the workflow.
Carestream’s new CS 3700 scanner uses CS ScanFlow software to provide users with unlimited workflow capacity, faster scanning, expanded processing options, one-click export, and touchscreen capabilities, along with convenient access to every postscan option from a single screen. Smart-shade matching automatically detects the enamel color of the scan area to identify the ideal shade match for the restoration.
The 3Shape TRIOS 4 offers a caries diagnostic aid and comes with smart tips that heat faster to ensure users are ready to scan in seconds. Artificial intelligence technology removes excess soft tissue from the digital impression, while realistic colors and shade measurement save time and lead to high-quality restorations.
After adding a digital impression system and design software to your workflow, the next step is in-house milling of crowns, bridges, inlays, and onlays, and in some cases, abutments and surgical guides.
Planmeca PlanMill 30 S is designed with a rotary axis that can mill both sides of a block with a high-speed spindle, while linear motors and smart tool paths ensure high-quality, well-fitting restorations. Its fixed 5-station tool charger automatically selects the proper tool for each restoration, and automatically detects and replaces worn or broken burs.
Ideal for single-tooth restorations, the CS 3000 from Carestream gives practitioners the ability to mill and place a crown in one appointment. With a milling accuracy of +/- 25 um, it produces anatomically accurate shapes without undercuts. A compact design for quiet, vibration-free milling, the CS 3000 has an intuitive user interface and computer-controlled system that makes milling quick and simple with minimal operator intervention required.
Dentsply Sirona offers three unique options for grinding and milling. Ideal for CAD/CAM beginners, the CEREC MC allows for chairside creation of full-contour individual inlays, onlays, crowns, or veneers with block sizes of up to 20 mm. The CEREC MC X expands the range of treatment to bridges, abutments, and surgical guides with up to a 40-mm block size. The CEREC MC XL Premium Package can mill or grind all practice laboratory indications using 4 grinding motors, an optional “extra-fine” grinding, and a user-friendly touch display.
Glidewell Dental’s fastmill.io In-Office Mill features a quick, electric-powered spindle for quiet operation and delivers same-appointment BruxZir Solid Zirconia restorations without the use of a lab. A 4-axis computer-controlled mill, the system does not require an external air compressor or sintering oven, resulting in a smaller footprint and streamlined workflow.
Compatible with a wide range software and scanners, vhf’s Z4 milling unit can produce restorations in under 10 minutes using 38 block materials from 20 manufacturers. The industrial-quality mill uses a 100,000- rpm electrical high frequency spindle and grinds in ultra HD.
Ivoclar Vivadent’s PrograMill One uses a 5-axis turn-milling technology called 5XT, along with an innovative rotary grinding process that allows the block to move around the tool leading to shorter milling times and minimal tool wear. A camera integrated within PrograMill One automatically records all data on material and tool use, making material management more convenient.
Kulzer offers a variety of milling units through its cara Mill product line. For CAD/CAM beginners, the cara Mill 2.5 is a 5-axis mill for wet and dry processing of zirconia, PMMA acrylics, wax, lithium disilicate, glass ceramic, and hybrid materials. The more technically sophisticated cara Mill 3.5 comes with 6-mm mill tools and a 60,000-rpm, 1-kW spindle that can process hard metals, such as cobalt chrome and titanium.
In many dental labs and (more and more frequently) dental practices, the role of 3D printing is steadily expanding—from dental appliances and orthodontic aligners to dental models and surgical guides. Next up in the 3D-printing queue: crowns.
Specifically designed for the dental industry, Planmeca Creo C5 is calibration-free and ready to quickly print surgical guides, dental models, or aligner bases right out of the box. The 3D printer offers all the tools needed for planning and completing implant treatment— from the 3D digital scan, to designing the surgical guide in Planmeca Romexis software, and then sending it to the Planmeca Creo C5 to print.
Using a wide range of dental materials and advanced print technology, 3D Systems’ NextDent 5100 enables dental labs and clinics to produce trays, models, surgical guides, dentures, orthodontic splints, crowns, and bridges with enhanced speed, precision, and efficiency at a lower cost. The 3D printer is compatible with leading dental software.
Kulzer’s cara Print 4.0 offers a faster and more economical way to print polymer-based dental appliances in-house. The 3D printer automatically adjusts print speed according to the accuracy requirements of the current layer—often reaching speeds in excess of 100mm/hour.
VOCO’s SolFlex uses patented Flex-Vat technology to increase printing speed, while minimizing support structures to save time and material. The 3D printer uses STL format and is ideal for processing various high-quality, light-cured 3D-printing materials into models, surgical guides, or orthodontic splints.
SprintRay Pro is a desktop 3D printer specifically designed for digital dentistry. It offers third-party resin support and the ability to choose from popular resins and applications. Intuitive SprintRay Software automates the process of turning intraoral scans into printable files. To start printing in-office aligners, surgical guides, digital dentures, or occlusal guards, simply open an intraoral scan in the software and add a base.
Form 2, Formlabs’ best-selling dental 3D printer for labs and practices, can create high-accuracy removable die crown and bridge models with crisp margins, precise contacts, and consistent occlusion that resemble gypsum. The affordable, high-resolution 3D printer also can fabricate extremely precise clear aligner models, surgical guides, occlusal guards, Hawley retainers, and full dentures.
Practice Management Systems
All the technology in the world is useless without a place for it to live. The most sophisticated practice management platforms merge marketing tools, appointment scheduling, and clinical information with patient imaging data and treatment planning. For growing practices, consider cloud-based software that can manage data and office tasks across different locations.
Henry Schein One’s Dentrix includes robust tools for patient communication, revenue cycle management, insurance eligibility verification, and clinical efficiency. Using Dentrix Smart Image, connect your clinical and financial processes into one efficient workflow, and acquire 2D or 3D images directly from the Dentrix platform. Images are automatically associated with the correct CDT codes and displayed in the Dentrix Patient Chart.
Cloud-based Dentrix Ascend offers a litany of easy-to-use features, including a Practice Overview with customized to-do lists for each user, a Patient Overview for simplified check-ins, an Insurance Manager to easily track patients’ insurance eligibility, and simple creation of customized management reports. Dentists can add an unlimited number of physical office locations as the practice grows, and enable restrictions and permissions for specific individuals or groups.
From Patterson Dental, Eaglesoft offers tools for accounting, scheduling, patient communication, and treatment planning. A dynamic document manager, SmartDoc saves all customized documents and patient signatures digitally, while tooth and perio charting, clinical notes, and patient images are stored in a single patient record for easy access.
Carestream’s CS PracticeWorks Cloud stores all of your practice data securely in an off-site location. Storage is HIPAA- compliant and Carestream maintains and supports all data backups. A built-in word processor allows users to create individual and group mailings that can be printed automatically, while a Recare Contact Expert Feature lists all the details about a patients’ recare on one screen.
Curve Dental offers a cloud-based practice management software that simplifies and streamlines scheduling, charting, imaging, compliance, and billing. The built-in Curve Connex online portal allows the practice to send text messages and email reminders for upcoming appointments, while patients can pay bills, see upcoming visits, and watch educational videos 24/7.
The Total Cost
Keep in mind that the total cost of ownership of any given technology may be higher than its original price tag. When we pay close attention to manufacturers' policies on product implementation, ongoing support, data sharing, warranties, and repairs, we set ourselves up for the biggest ROI from our digital tools.