The technology saving dentistry, according to 3 dentists

With the dental industry facing several challenges that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, many are focusing on creating solutions to improve practice, enhance patient experience and decrease complications. 

Technological advancements are one of the top trends saving dentistry, according to three dentists. Here, the dentists share with Becker's how technology is moving the industry forward:

Brandon James, DMD. Mortenson Family Dental (Louisville, Ky.): The number one trend saving dentistry is technology and the move toward digital, whether it be X-rays, digital scanning or digital treatment planning. These make for better diagnosis, better treatment being rendered and better patient experience.

Other trends saving dentistry are implants and the ability for general dentists to confidently place and restore them. This makes implants more accessible to more patients and provides the best treatment to replace missing teeth. 

Cyrus Lee, DMD. Dental Director of Care Delivery at Permanente Dental Associates (Portland, Ore.): Two trends of note in dentistry are efforts around improving the patient experience and more specifically, increasing convenience to customers. 

Continued efforts with socializing patient reviews and making more transparent the patient experience (online and social media) are giving patients more tools to help them choose where they want to receive their dental care. Additionally, technology such as online appointing (web and app based), chatbots or other online tools for advice, triage and scheduling continue to shift dentistry to a more consumer-driven approach around convenience. This increased access to information for the consumer is similar to what's happened across other industries.

Bradley Dykstra, DDS. CEO of MI Smiles Dental (Hudsonville, Mich.): A few areas are contributing to this.

Anything to streamline processes and/or reduce the need for human interaction – anything that can be automated should be. These all remove busywork and allow more time to personally interact with the patients on items that need human involvement.

1. Improved technology: a few of many

  • Online forms
  • Self-scheduling
  • Text to pay
  • Virtual visits
  • Voice-activated charting
  • Cloud-based software – easy to scale
  • Chat bots
  • Older technology – digital scanning and intraoral cameras

2. Artificial intelligence

  • Preliminary caries diagnosis from radiographs
  • Preliminary hard tissue and bone level charting from radiographs
  • Auto insurance verification
  • Analyzing phone calls for correct follow-up

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