Adoption and Use of Digital Technologies among Dentists

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Digital technologies are now part of modern everyday life such that it would be unthinkable if members of the dental profession do not integrate at least some of these technologies in their clinical practice. Unfortunately, just as not everyone has access to such modern technologies, there are also dentists who remain in the clutches of outdated analog and manual systems that are especially prone to errors. In case you’re wondering how the dentistry profession is adopting and using digital technologies, then this article is for you.

Digital Patient Information

About 93 percent of all dentists use digital technologies in the management of patient information. While some use a combination of paper works for patient registration purposes, the mere fact that they do use digital technology in the gathering and organization of patient data is clear indication that dentists do understand the need for such technologies. The digital registration of pertinent patient information can greatly improve the delivery of care to patients, expediting the process of clinical assessment, diagnosis, planning, treatment, and the eventual evaluation of the treatment plan. Here’s a great post to read about the use of digital patient information systems by dentists.

Patient Communication Systems

More than 8 out of 10 dentists use digital technologies in communicating with their respective patients. From the use of digital scheduling systems to internet and digital messaging platforms, dentists are able to use such technologies to better understand their patients’ various needs. They can use such technologies to facilitate the delivery of care even though they may not have seen the patient yet. Unfortunately, 1 of 5 dentists still uses conventional communications systems which can lead to a slower delivery of much-needed dental care.

Practice Websites

Eight of 10 dental practitioners have their own professional practice websites, underscoring the profession’s understanding of the need to be ever-present in the World Wide Web. A good number of dentists recognize the need to communicate their products and services to those who utilize both traditional internet devices and mobile platforms as a means to search for such services. While they still go for conventional marketing and advertising strategies such as word-of-mouth marketing, referrals, and the use of print ads, there are an increasing number of dentists who leverage their internet presence to advance their clinical practice. On the other hand, one of 5 dentists don’t have internet presence which can limit their number of patients seen on a daily basis.

Digital Intra-oral Radiography

Traditionally, dentists have to rely on film radiographs to visualize the current state of health of the oral cavity including the various structures within. However, with the introduction of digital intra-oral radiography, dentists are able to gain better understanding of such health and illness states. Digital radiography allows dentists to create computer archives of digital images while allowing them to view such images on colored, high-resolution screens that can be magnified several times so they can focus on a particular defect or problem. Digital radiography also reduces the risk of exposure to radiation while allowing for better, clearer, and more defined images. Since the images come in digital information, there is no need for tedious chemical processing of the film. Nine of 10 dentists today use digital intra-oral radiography in their clinical practice.

Digital Orthopantomogram

Known as panoramic radiograph, digital orthopantomogram allows dentists to get a panoramic view of both the upper and the lower jaw. It is a type of scanning dental X-ray that allows dentists to have a better understanding of the anatomy of the temporomandibular joint as well as potential issues of the jawbone. Sadly, the percentage of dentists that use such technologies is about 57 percent.

Other Technologies

More than a quarter of dentists use digital intra-oral cameras in their practice while only 12 percent use intra-oral digital scanners. Those that use digital 3D radiography and CAD/CAM technologies represent only 8 percent of the total population of dentists.

Younger Dentists

Dentists who have earned their degrees in recent years are more likely to integrate useful technologies than those who have been in the practice for many decades. This is quite expected since modern educational systems utilize a number of digital technologies in dental instruction.

Not all dentists adopt and use digital technologies in their practice. On a positive note, there are more who do than those who don’t.