Digital transformation has taken the world by storm. It’s the integration of computer-based technologies into all areas of an industry, fundamentally revolutionizing the processes of its operations and value.
Dentistry is no exception. It’s the branch of medicine that specializes in diagnosing, preventing, managing, and treating oral diseases. In fact, digital solutions are no stranger in this field since dental professionals have been using computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacture (CAD/CAM) for dental impression-taking since 1984.
It’s been around 40 years since Dr. Francois Duret first applied CAD/CAM principles to optimize the dental treatment process. Let’s see the benefits of digitally enhanced dentistry this year, 2023.
Many organizations can now be reached virtually. For example, Skygate Dental, a dental clinic headquartered in Brisbane, Australia, has a website allowing patients to check a doctor’s availability and book online conveniently.
A website helps organizations reduce these calls and instead increase internal productivity. This also decreases the time spent by patients on contacting and waiting at a clinic, ultimately providing an all-around better customer experience.
Time- and Cost-Saving
Not only in customer service can a dental clinic reduce time with digital solutions but also in its dental procedures. Digitally enhanced dentistry is more accurate, benefitting both dentists and patients.
Take the use of digital intraoral scanners as an example. It can provide more accurate teeth structure information after only 1-2 minutes of scanning, which is way faster than other traditional dental 3D machines.
Digital intraoral scans are also much cleaner. They eliminate bubbles and distortions, which are often common in traditional impressions. With better accuracy, they reduce turnaround time and eliminate retake costs. Even if a procedure must be retaken, digital solutions can help streamline the procedure and reduce chair time.
More Efficient Results and Procedures
Digital solutions can also get rid of other errors and uncertainties typically caused by human limitations. The more accurate the results are at every workflow stage, the more efficient the dental results and procedures are.
Apart from digital intraoral scanners, another digital innovation renowned for its accuracy is the more advanced CAD/CAM tools. Like in dental procedures, improved accuracy results in shorter waiting periods and low to no outsourcing costs.
For example, recent CAD/CAM software can automatically delete and rescan impressions, even if it’s a complicated case. In restorative dentistry, they can also provide more dimensionally stable restorations with a natural look.
Enhanced Patient-Dentist and Lab Communication
Digital solutions can improve the communication channels between dentists and their patients. For example, by utilizing real-time 3D imagery, patients can readily visualize their oral health status and gain a comprehensive understanding of the progress and outcomes of their treatment.
Employing digital impression systems ensures that patients receive precise, expertly crafted impressions. This will likely foster greater patient engagement and increase the likelihood of them proceeding with recommended treatment plans.
Moreover, this heightened communication extends beyond just the patient-dentist dynamic. It also extends to the collaboration between dentists and laboratories. Depending on the specific case, digital solutions empower both clinics and laboratories to fine-tune aspects, such as speed, user-friendliness, or cost-effectiveness, streamlining the workflow between them.
Improved Patient Experience and Comfort
As mentioned earlier, digitally enhanced dentistry’s increased accuracy, efficiency, and productivity can also benefit patients, especially when it comes to better experience and comfort.
For example, they often gag with traditional impression materials like alginate or polyvinyl siloxane (PVS) but don’t with intraoral scanners. Others can still report gagging or discomfort during the intraoral scanning, but it’s often because of their anxiety.
Good Return on Investment (ROI)
The benefits of digital adaptation in dentistry generally result in outcome quality, significantly reducing chair time and material costs. All these can improve competitiveness and lead to opportunities for dental clinics and laboratories.
Additionally, these digital solutions in dentistry have instantaneous financial returns. For example, with better treatments, there’ll be more patient acceptance and new patient visits, which all contribute to a higher return on investment (ROI).
Having trust issues with digital dental solutions is normal. Most people fear what’s uncommon or new. However, once they hear positive feedback from other patients, they’ll likely commit to a treatment plan and even return for visits. It won’t be long until their trust and confidence in digitalization significantly increases.
After these patients have a comfortable digital solution experience, they’ll also bring in other patients, and the cycle continues. In business, these processes are called customer feedback and referrals, which can drive more revenue for an optimized ROI.
Digital transformation has greatly enhanced the overall experience for patients, dental practitioners, and laboratories. More importantly, it’s an effective way to meet today’s digital revolution and high-performance culture, where everything is expected to be efficient and adaptive. Incorporating digital solutions in dentistry, in this sense, is the only way to stay ahead of the competition.