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Simplified Technique for Beautiful Anterior Veneer Temporaries

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Simplified Technique for Beautiful Anterior Veneer Temporaries

Beautiful temporary veneers can serve as the prototype for the final restorations. Not only will they provide the patient with a preview of what they can expect their final new smile to look like, it also helps to the patient to reassured that they have selected the right dentists to provide them with their smile makeover.

The following case study will demonstrate a technique will allow you to make beautiful temporaries that can be completed in a very short period of time.

Preoperative impressions are sent to the lab (YES Dental Laboratory) and a diagnostic wax up fabricated for the esthetic enhancement of #’s 7-10 (Fig 1) . From this diagnostic wax up a matrix can be fabricated.

Using the putty version of a polyvinylsiloxane impression material (Panasil Putty, Kettenbach), the putty is mixed and then press formed onto place on the diagnostic wax up (Fig. 2).  The impression material is allowed to set for 4-5 minutes.

Once fully set the putty impression is removed and then trimmed using a #12 scalpel blade. Excess material is removed, but the matrix should extend at least 5 mm onto the soft tissue. This will ensure a full and positive seating of the temporary matrix. Lastly at the midline and adjacent to the canines black lines are placed to help with the orientation of seating the matrix. (Fig 3).

The matrix is now ready for the fabrication of the temporary veneers. Cheek retractors are placed on the patient. A small spot of phosphoric etch is placed in the middle 1/3 of each prepared tooth, allowed to sit for 15 seconds, then rinsed off with an air water spray and air dried.

The matrix is then loaded with the bisacryl temporary material (Visalys Temp, Kettenbach), (Fig 4)  seated to place, and allowed to set for 4 minutes (Fig. 5) .

With this technique, the temporaries are not removed from the teeth and trimmed, but rather are lock into place and will be trimmed intraorally.

Using finishing carbides and composite polishing rotary instrumentation the excess provisional material is trimmed away and the temporary material is polished to provide the patient with a beautiful provisional restoration that will provide them with an esthetically pleasing preview of their final smile makeover.

Written By Dr. Gary M. Radz, DDS

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The Conservative Case for Cosmetic Dentistry

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The Conservative Case for Cosmetic Dentistry

Adam E. Notarantonio, DDS, FICOI, FAACD

Adamo E. Notarantonio, DDS, FICOI, FAACD
Huntington, NY

 

Cosmetic dentistry can do wonders to improve the esthetics of our patients’ smiles, and social media platforms are a great way to showcase these life-changing transformations. Unfortunately, a lot of what we see on these platforms are cases involving 20-plus teeth with aggressive preparations and little to no orthodontics or other procedures. Should this be the norm for every patient who walks in our door? One can easily see how a young dentist can get caught up in the glamour of social media without the education and knowledge to base treatment on risk assessment and conservative dentistry.

My philosophy on cosmetic dentistry is simple and conservative. Ideally, I prefer simple orthodontics and bleaching, a noninvasive and effective way to correct functional and esthetic issues. A second choice would be periodontal plastic surgery and composite resin. If none of these are effective, porcelain veneers would be my final choice. As much as porcelain veneers are an extreme esthetic makeover, some seem to forget that this treatment is a full-mouth rehabilitation where the function is just as important as the esthetics.

I’ve come to be a big proponent of direct composite resin as a great, conservative solution for many patients. The composite resins available today do a great job of combining strength and esthetics. It used to be that a strong composite didn’t polish well or appeared dull and opaque—or, a material was really translucent and esthetic, but the strength was lacking. Now, individual chemistries incorporate different particles that strengthen the composite while allowing it to keep its natural luster and shine for a long time. Today's composite can be as nice as, if not nicer than, porcelain. And based on the wealth of products on the market right now, there’s a flavor out there for every clinician.

My hope is that the younger generation coming out of dental school doesn’t just say, “I’m going to put my head down and drill deep and make as much money as I can.” We all need money to survive, but if we become educated and skilled enough, we can charge whatever we want and do the right thing at the same time. The amazing innovation we are seeing right now in direct restorative materials is definitely helping us achieve that.

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Once and Done—the Midwest Once® Helical Diamond

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Once and Done—the Midwest Once® Helical Diamond

Dentsply Sirona Midwest has expanded its Midwest Once® Sterile Diamond burs to include a new super-course-grit bur called the Midwest Once® Helical Sterile Diamond. The helical design of the diamonds embedded on the bur shank provides a clear, diamond-free path for optimal debris collection and removal. The unobstructed path allows for water spray to rinse debris away from the surface while it aids with water cooling.

Individually sterile and packaged eliminates the sterilization process, so unused burs can be stored in the operatory without being compromised and improves patient safety by eliminating the risk of patient-to-patient contamination. All Midwest Once burs are sterilized with gamma radiation to reduce degradation of the cutting surface. They meet the criteria of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation for single-use items to help reduce infection control concerns. It is advised that dental burs be removed before disassembling handpieces to avoid injuries and the potential for exposure to patient blood and saliva. Simply dropping them into a sharps container eliminates many of the steps involved in instrument processing.

Because they are single use, practitioners never have to worry about a reduction in cutting speed or the diamonds becoming dull, therefore reducing the need to change a worn bur in the middle of a procedure. The burs are always sharp, so they are always at optimal cutting efficiency. Sharp burs are also less likely to get stuck, slip, or damage handpiece chucks.

Midwest Once Sterile Helical Diamonds are available in 38 different shapes and sizes, one of the widest ranges of spiral diamond shapes on the market. Dentists typically use Midwest Once Sterile Helical diamonds for crown and bridge procedure gross reduction, as well as for removing or cutting through zirconia crowns to gain access for endodontic procedures.

Clinicians can depend on Midwest Once Helical diamonds to provide efficient, smooth cutting while saving time and money when it comes to instrument processing.

To help you choose which Midwest burs are right for you, download the Midwest Bur Advisor, a virtual bur wallet and utilities program. Click here for the app.

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Paradise Dental Technologies introduces First Implant-Specific Maintenance Instruments

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Paradise Dental Technologies introduces First Implant-Specific Maintenance Instruments

The new instruments available through Paradise Dental Technologies were designed by Dr. Alfonso Pineyro, a prosthodontist, specifically for cleaning around dental implants. In many cases, these unique instruments make it possible to leave hybrid prosthetics in place during hygiene treatment, which saves time and eliminates a lot of frustration for both patients and practitioners.  

The Pineyro Arch Kit instruments are not sharp and can be used to painlessly retract the gingiva and debride both the prosthetic and the implant without damaging implant surfaces. The instrument tips are flat rather than sharp so cleaning under gaps and cantilevers can be done without excessive force and with minimal-to-no patient discomfort.

Dr. Pineyro notes in a video on the Paradise Dental Technologies website that all other current implant instruments are basically just modifications of those originally designed for use on natural teeth. Being manufactured out of titanium is the only difference that makes any of them “implant specific.” Having experience with struggling to choose the right instrument to use, and hearing the same from many hygienists, inspired Dr. Pineyro to develop the Pineyro Arch Kit and a new implant maintenance protocol.

The Pineyro Arch Kit comes with four instruments. The Pineyro Arch Ti 1 is designed to be used in the anterior. Rather than starting in the back of the arch, the Pineyro protocol is to first complete cleaning the entire anterior area, both the mandible and maxilla. The Ti 1 is angled to reach the area where patients develop the most calculus, which is the lingual of lower anterior. It has a semicircular shape designed to fit around the abutments and the framework and can be locked in place, allowing for better cleaning of the area. Its semicircular shape enables it to clean all types of circular-shaped abutments, with either a rotating or up-and-down motion.

Next, the Pineyro Arch Ti 2 is used to clean the entire posterior region, both upper and lower, left and right. Pineyro Arch Ti 3 is designed with a slightly different angulation to access hard-to-reach mesial and distal areas. It is intended to be used after the other two instruments to confirm that any difficult-to-reach areas have been thoroughly debrided.

The Pineyro Arch Ti 4 is a completely different shape. It is flatter so hygienists can reach underneath tissues between the prostheses, especially useful in cantilever areas. Other instruments do not allow access to this tight space for removing debris and calculus.

If a multi-unit prosthetic has been removed due to poor home care, the Pineyro instruments are easily adapted for cleaning ledges of calculus from around all the components.

The Pineyro Arch Kit instruments eliminate having to remove the entire restoration every time the patient comes in for a cleaning appointment. Removing full-arch prostheses is cumbersome and increases the potential for losing screws. Hygienists who have tested the new instruments say they save time and make hygiene procedures for implant patients much easier.

Read the recent Dental Product Shopper reviewers’ comments on this new line of instruments and visit Paradise Dental Technologies to download the Pineyro Arch Kit Protocol.

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The Perfect Pair for In-Office Whitening

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The Perfect Pair for In-Office Whitening

With more over-the-counter whitening products available than ever, you might expect the professional whitening business to become a thing of the past. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Today, whitening is still the most requested cosmetic procedure in dental practices and modern advances afford the process multiple advantages over over-the-counter solutions. When performed under professional supervision, patients can experience better, faster results along with improved comfort and satisfaction.

 

While today’s market offers many serviceable options for in-office whitening, industry innovator Kulzer sets itself apart from the crowd with Venus White® Max. Venus White teeth whitening systems cater to a variety of patient needs while delivering great esthetic results and minimal sensitivity. Whitening with Venus White Max is made even easier with Ivory® ReLeaf™, Kulzer’s award-winning hands-free HVE suction device. With these products on hand and Kulzer’s expert training resources, you and your team can expect better treatment outcomes and happier, more comfortable patients.

 

In-office whitening with Venus White Max produces excellent results in just three to four 15-minute treatments with 38% hydrogen peroxide gel. The product is chemically activated via syringe-to-syringe mixing for maximum freshness and a thorough mix. Patients will appreciate the comfort Venus White Max offers, as it contains potassium nitrate which mitigates the sensitivity often associated with bleaching. After in-office whitening with Venus White Max, patients can maintain their smiles with one of two convenient take-home options—Venus White Pro custom whitening trays or Venus White Ultra pre-filled disposable trays. All three Venus White systems ensure brilliant results with little to no sensitivity.

 

The perfect companion to Venus White Max, Ivory ReLeaf offers efficient and effective suction and retraction during in-office whitening. With its unique ergonomic design, the hands-free, high-volume efficiency device provides 280 degrees of suction so you can devote full focus to the task at hand. Set up with Ivory ReLeaf is simple as it can be connected to existing HVE systems in less than 60 seconds. The device is made from a soft, latex- and BPA-free custom blend polymer, so it also promotes patient comfort, eliminating gagging and choking while allowing for effortless communication. Together, these unique features clear a path to improved productivity, better clinical outcomes and an exceptional whitening experience for you and your patients.

 

To learn more about Venus White Max, Ivory ReLeaf and order products for your practice, visit Kulzer’s website.

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EXACTA Dental Quick: Your Next Mobile App Download

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EXACTA Dental Quick: Your Next Mobile App Download

There are many reasons why dental healthcare professionals prefer to order supplies online, and most have to do with time savings and convenience. During a busy workday, it’s easier to search for and select the products you need online and to quickly place an order. If you forget something, modifying your order is just a simple click away.

Maximizing your time is now even easier with personalized applications on smartphones. Over the course of a busy day, it’s easier to just order on-the-go, even when you’re away from the office computer. Also, using an app is often more accessible than navigating a website’s ordering system. It’s easy to click the interface of your phone and be redirected to an ordering system within seconds. .

One-click shopping has revolutionized the way people order online, and now it’s doing the same in the dental profession. Years ago, dentists  might have referred to the latest edition of their  favorite dental product catalog to send away for essential items. Those magazines still exist as a resource, but most brands, like EXACTA, are ramping up their digital presence and selling products directly on their websites.

EXACTA Dental Direct is a company that is going an extra step by offering a convenient mobile app, EXACTA Dental Quick. Designed as a one-stop-shop, this app essentially serves as a direct connection from you, the practitioner, to the manufacturer,  so that you can easily restock frequently used items, including direct restorative materials, temporary materials, and impression materials.

Using the proprietary app of a reputable company like EXACTA has two key advantages: it streamlines the ordering process and saves valuable time. Dentists who manage a practice know the importance of efficiency and time management. Minimize the amount of time you and your staff spend on ordering and reordering supplies, and you’ll gain more time interacting with patients, whether in the operatory or in the waiting room.

Added value comes in the form of a guarantee. As discussed in a previous blog, the EXACTA Promise 100% Money Back Guarantee ensures that if you’re not satisfied with a dental product within 30 days of purchase, you can return it for a full refund.

If “time is money,” than the EXACTA Dental Quick app can give you more of both. Learn more about the app at www.exactadental.com/quick.

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GUIDOR Bioresorbable Matrix Barrier Provides Predictable Resorption and Performance

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GUIDOR Bioresorbable Matrix Barrier Provides Predictable Resorption and Performance

Sunstar’s GUIDOR Bioresorbable Matrix Barrier membranes have a unique, multi-layer composition that help stabilize wound sites and promote integration with periodontal tissues. The membranes have multiple layers, each with a different pattern of perforation, which controls the type of cell that can grow into the space within the membrane. The external layer allows for soft tissue cell proliferation. The space between the layers allows gingival connective tissue to integrate into the matrix. And the internal layer prevents epithelial downgrowth while allowing nutrients and oxygen to pass through. Also incorporated into the design is a patented “spacer” construction on the root surface of the material that maintains enough space for periodontal ligament cell proliferation and allows attachment to develop. This “selective cell ingrowth” aspect of the GUIDOR Barrier creates optimal conditions for tissue regeneration.

GUIDOR Bioresorbable Matrix Barriers are a 100% synthetic material, available in various shapes and sizes that can be further trimmed and shaped to fit a defect site precisely. Within just seconds of contact at body temperature, the material becomes malleable for easy handling and control. 

GUIDOR Bioresorbable Matrix Barriers are ideal to use with guided bone regeneration (GBR) cases because they maintain their barrier function for a minimum of 6 weeks and then resorb within a predictable amount of time as they are gradually replaced with new periodontal tissue. If a wound cannot be closed for some reason, the GUIDOR Matrix Barrier can be left exposed if it is tucked under the flap and adequately secured with sutures. Note that this may result in it resorbing more quickly than if it were fully submerged.

Indications for GBR use include bone regeneration and augmentation for extraction socket preservation, immediate implant placement either at time of extraction or for delayed placement, when additional bone is desired for ridge augmentation and sinus elevation, and for use as a stable barrier when bone grafting materials are placed.

GUIDOR Bioresorbable Matrix Barrier is clinically proven with more than 100 successful scientific studies and has been well documented in clinical research as well as thousands of private practice patients. Click here to watch a video and here to see a clinical case. Additional clinical application videos and recent publications are available here.

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Better Bonds with a Maximum Performance Adhesive

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Better Bonds with a Maximum Performance Adhesive

Out of the available etching and bonding techniques, clinicians often choose total-etch systems. Clear advantages of this technique include predictably high bond strengths to enamel and dentin and a lack of interference with polymerization of dual-cure resin products. However, this approach isn’t without its challenges. When total-etching, improper technique (such as over-etching and undesirable dentinal wetness) can lead to uncomfortable and costly after-effects—post-operative sensitivity is a possibility as is, paradoxically, decreased bond strengths.

Given the challenges associated with etching and bonding, manufacturers have sought to create ways to improve procedural outcomes. With the introduction of MPa™ MAX, industry innovator Clinician’s Choice® has developed a solution to common adhesive woes. MPa MAX is a total-etch adhesive system designed to maximize bond strength while preventing post-operative sensitivity. With MPa MAX, practitioners can expect better clinical outcomes alongside improved patient comfort and satisfaction.

MPa MAX is a fifth-generation total-etch adhesive that provides predictable quality, long-lasting bond strengths across an array of indications. The product produces the highest bond strength to dentin, enamel, zirconia and lithium disilicate.[1] With its viscous consistency, MPa MAX is easy to use and requires only one application on each adhesive wall to fully seal dentin and enamel. Due in large part to readily observable indicators at the solvent evaporation stage, MPa MAX resists over-thinning and no cases of post-operative sensitivity have been reported.[1]

In addition to reliably coating and sealing dentinal tubules, thus preventing intratubular fluid flow, MPa MAX combats post-operative sensitivity with the help of G5 All-Purpose Desensitizer. Included in the MPa MAX kit, G5 is a clinically-proven glutaraldehyde-based desensitizer placed after etching and before application of MPa MAX. G5 works in conjunction with MPa MAX to seal dentin by coagulating intratubular proteins. This critical step prevents stimulation of the odontoblastic processes along with any chance of post-operative sensitivity.

While research shows that most bonding agents lose up to 50% of their bond strength within the first six months, MPa MAX is formulated to deliver years of retention.1 Metalloproteinases (MMP) enzymes
 activated during the etching process can result in degradation of the adhesive bond. As one of the few adhesives to contain 0.2% Chlorhexidine (CHX), an antiseptic agent, MPa MAX counters MMP activation and helps retain bond strengths for years to come.

To learn more about MPa MAX and order the product for your practice, visit Clinician’s Choice’s website.


[1] https://www.clinicianschoice.com/marketing/CCI19_SS_MPaMax_Intl.pdf

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Selecting the Right Temporary Cement

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Selecting the Right Temporary Cement

NexTempTemporary cements play a critical role in retaining provisional restorations to the extent that preventing premature dislodgment of provisionals can directly impact the outcome of the restorative process. Not only do these materials protect prepared teeth from bacteria and thermal insults, they stabilize the provisional appliance, maintaining functionality and esthetics until final restoration placement. In some cases, “temporary” isn’t synonymous with “short-term.” For longer-lasting provisional restorations, it’s especially critical that a luting agent possesses certain properties to avoid issues such as cement washout, marginal leakage, bacterial infiltration and caries.

Much of cement selection depends upon clinical application—no one cement is perfect for every situation, but some qualities benefit all types of indications. Of high priority is balancing sufficient retention with easy removal of the temporary prosthesis so as not to damage or alter prepared surfaces. Likewise, good mechanical and adhesive properties, simplicity of excess clean-up, proper marginal seal (to mitigate sensitivity) and low solubility in oral fluids all promote restorative success. It’s also necessary to make sure temporary cements are compatible with other procedural materials such as provisional resin restorations, resin core materials, bonding agents and permanent cements.

Clinicians should be aware that not all temporary cements are created equally. Common commercially available temporary cements fall into four main composition types: polycarboxylate, zinc oxide eugenol (ZOE), zinc oxide noneugenol (ZONE) and resin-based. Polycarboxylate cements can reduce post-operative sensitivity while promoting easy clean-up and strong retention, though may be difficult to remove. ZOE cements are most often chosen for their proven sedative and antibacterial effect on teeth, but run the risk of negatively impacting bonds between resin materials and definitive restorations. In lieu of eugenol, ZONE cements contain carboxylic acids which do not interfere with definitive cementation. ZONE cements are highly compatible with both provisional and permanent resin materials and provide better retention than ZOE cements but at the cost of a sedative effect.

A newer class of materials, resin-based temporary cements offer multiple advantages over other options. These cements combine high strength and excellent retentive properties with easy clean-up and removability when needed. Premier Dental’s NexTemp® is a prime example of today’s advanced resin-based temporary cements and is designed for convenience and consistency. NexTemp’s unique eugenol-free formula contains potassium nitrate, chlorhexidine and fluoride which work to reduce post-op sensitivity. The formula also helps ensure long-lasting marginal seals, eliminating microleakage and washout. With minimal application and two-stage curing, NexTemp provides exceptional retention and makes clean-up quick and simple for the clinician, while providing the patient with comfort and confidence.  

To learn more about NexTemp and order the product for your practice, visit Premier’s website.

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The Pioneer of Single-Patient-Use Celebrates 30 Years

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The Pioneer of Single-Patient-Use Celebrates 30 Years

The Berlin Wall fell, Madonna released “Like a Prayer,” and Microcopy launched NeoDiamond, the pioneer and No. 1 single-patient-use diamond. The year was 1989, and Microcopy co-founder Thom Maas, Jr. successfully unveiled a high-quality, sterile and efficient dental diamond that would become a global market leader with remarkable staying power.

Thirty years later, NeoDiamond continues to shine, with key features such as 20 percent more cutting surface and faster cuts that reduce chairtime and increase efficiency.

In those 30 years, NeoDiamond has continued to grow its line to meet dentists’ varied needs.

“Much has changed since NeoDiamond launched in 1989,” said Paul Tucker, Microcopy CEO. The diamond originally came in 16 shapes, but is now available in 126 shapes in various grits. In May, Microcopy added six new pediatric short shank diamond burs.

Today, NeoDiamond continues to be the highest-rated, best performing single-patient-use diamond, and is just one of Microcopy’s products that enable dentists to fulfill a social responsibility to provide better, healthier patient care. Whether you’re new to NeoDiamond or a longtime user, you don’t need to worry about the product aging out any time soon; Microcopy plans to make the powerful yet economical choice available for the next 30 years—and beyond.

“NeoDiamond was developed with safety and performance in mind, which is still the driving force for the brand today,” said Heather Siler, Microcopy marketing manager. “Great products like NeoDiamond will never go out of style.”

Celebrate with Microcopy

It’s NeoDiamond’s anniversary, and you’re invited to celebrate. Have you had a great experience using NeoDiamond for fresh, fast cutting? Has a particular bur become your go-to for challenging extractions? Have you found you’re able to preserve more tissue during routine procedures?

If so, you can submit your “NeoDiamond Story” about why you started using or what you love about these diamonds, and be sure to include a photo. You’ll be entered to win a trip to the Microcopy headquarters and a few other exciting locations in Atlanta. Share your story at https://microcopydental.com/nd-30form

For more information about NeoDiamond visit NeoDiamond.com or call 800-235-1863.

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Is Your Steri-Center Up to SPECs?

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Is Your Steri-Center Up to SPECs?

If you had to identify the “heart” of your clinical practice, where would it be located? It’s easy to think about this on a more technical level, perhaps to the closet that houses the hard drive and servers for your practice network. However, that’s the “brain” of your practice, not necessarily the heart. Let’s rephrase the question: What is the area of your office that serves as the lifeblood of your clinical practice, by ensuring the health and well-being of your staff and patients? The answer becomes much clearer: the sterilization area.

If instruments do not efficiently flow into and out of your sterilization area, the rest of the practice suffers. As defined by the infection control specialists at SciCan, the purpose of your sterilization center is to improve safety, ensure predictable results, maximize efficiency, and maintain compliance. Each one of these steps is important and can’t be overlooked—they must be “kept up to spec.” In fact, SciCan developed the acronym SPEC, so that practices could easily remember the most important components. 

“S” is for Safe

Safety extends beyond preventing sharps exposure to containing biologically contaminated fluids and aerosols generated by open-lid ultrasonic cleaning and cold sterile solutions. Dental instruments should be processed in the safest and most efficient way possible to reduce the risk of staff injury and the costs associated with exposure incidents.

“P” is for Predictability

Having clean, sterile, and dry instruments ready to go when you need them helps to avoid delays and interruptions in your clinical workflow. Contaminated instruments should flow through the reprocessing steps in your sterilization area quickly and consistently every time. According to SciCan, automation, redundancy, and reliability are the 3 keys to ensuring this happens.

“E” is for Efficient

Speed applies to the way instruments flow through your office and sterilization area as well as the equipment used to reprocess instruments. Wherever possible, manual labor should be eliminated so that the staff can focus on tasks that can’t be automated, such as operatory cleanup and preparation.

“C” is for Compliant

It’s imperative that instrument reprocessing meets or exceeds federal and state infection control requirements. Infection-control violations can have a devastating impact on your practice’s reputation and finances. The easiest way to make sure you maintain compliance is to design your sterilization area with compliance in mind.

In the diagram below, SciCan presents a sterilization area that’s up to SPECs. Let’s discuss each area and some of SciCan's equipment and products that can help dental offices become more efficient while maintaining compliance. 

Instrument receiving, cleaning, and decontamination takes place in Step 1. SciCan’s STATMATIC automatic handpiece maintenance unit simplifies the maintenance process by properly cleaning, lubricating, and purging handpieces prior to sterilization. OPTIM 1 Wipes remove organic debris while disinfecting with the active ingredient hydrogen peroxide. StatClean is an ultrasonic cleaning unit with a 1.6-gallon tank and convenient self-docking lid that holds a variety of instruments. HYDRIM L110W G4 and HYDRIM  C61W G4 instrument washers ensure instruments are properly and consistently cleaned. 

After preparation and packaging, the BRAVO chamber autoclave balances speed and capacity. STATIM G4 is a fast cassette autoclave and its patented steam process makes it gentle on instruments.

Learn more about SciCan’s SPECs at www.scican.com/us/scicanspec

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Patients Want to Receive Your Text about Last-Minute Cancellations

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Patients Want to Receive Your Text about Last-Minute Cancellations

Last-minute cancellations are a frustrating aspect of front-office management, as empty chair time can greatly impact a dental practice’s bottom line. While many practices continue to debate the best way to fill in last-minute recall cancellations, patient communication software providers, like Lighthouse 360, are attempting to make it a “no-brainer” through the power of mobile technology.  

Many software providers already offer a feature that can text appointment confirmation requests and reminders to patients. However, Lighthouse 360 has taken the technology a step further. The company’s recently introduced Fill-In feature leverages automated technology to detect last-minute cancellations in the practice PMS. The software then notifies the office manager of the cancellation and offers to help find a patient to fill the spot. From there, Fill-in intelligently identifies a small, targeted group of patients who are most likely to want the opening based on a myriad of factors and past behaviors. If a contacted patient replies “yes” to the message, the staff member receives a notification and clicks to confirm the new appointment. It’s a game-changing approach to an old problem in dentistry—helping avoid costly holes in the schedule without causing a disruptive scramble at the front desk.

If automated technology and text messaging seems like a radically new approach for your practice’s recall efforts, you must consider the current state of mobile device ownership. According to the latest statistics from the Pew Research Center, the share of Americans who own smartphones is now 81%, up from just 35% in the organization’s first survey of smartphone ownership conducted in 2011. Smartphones aren’t just for “kids,” with adoption at nearly 80% for Americans in the 50-to-64-year-old age group and more than half for seniors in the 65-plus age group.

As for text messaging, specifically, studies showed that Americans sent 32 texts per day in 2014, a number that has likely risen in the past 5 years, given the increasing adoption of smartphones. In 2019, 39% of businesses are using some kind of texting to communicate with clients, according to Zipwhip’s 2019 State of Texting report. Among businesses that haven’t yet adopted texting, 64% still acknowledge that they see value in the approach. 

Meanwhile, more than half of consumers, 58%, said they tried to reply to a missed call via text, and 3 out of 4 said they feel frustrated when they can’t reply back to a company’s text messages. Coincidentally, the report used the example of a dental practice texting a patient, but an error prevents the patient from confirming, which results in a frustrating customer-service experience. 

“Unfortunately, not all texting tools are created equal, and we do expect to continue seeing adoption of one-way, automated text messaging tools like short codes,” the report stated. “As our research shows, this strategy eliminates the best quality of texting: its conversational nature. We hope this report will shed some light on why conversational texting is key in the business-customer relationship.”

In line with the report findings, Lighthouse 360’s Fill-In feature offers a distinct advantage—it leverages automated technology to initiate contact but is more conversational in nature, as it requires the human touch to confirm new appointments. And unlike other systems whose only option is to mass text their entire patient base for every opening (which is both annoying to patients and ineffective), Fill-In targets a small, curated list of patients who are more likley to accept. In other words, Fill-In offers the best of both worlds.

Watch the video below to learn more about Fill-In and to see if this feature could be valuable to your practice. 

 

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