Digital vs Traditional Dentistry

MANAGING PATIENT CARE AND ACCEPTANCE

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Digital dentistry has been an ever-evolving part of dentistry for the last several decades. Starting with tomography developments in the early '60s to the first milled restoration in the '80s, digital workflows have entirely changed the dental field. With their implementation, doctors have noted an increased ability to build trust with patients, leading to increased case acceptance.

Today, clinicians can incorporate digital workflows into their practices through data capture, utilizing intraoral scanners for digital impressions and/or diagnostics, utilizing cone-beam computed tomography.

These technologies only require an initial investment of both time and money but can offer an overall improved and more efficient workflow once properly incorporated.

Computer-aided desgin - Digital Dentistry

Burbank Dental Lab was an early adopter of digital technologies and has fully embraced computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing. Early on, we discovered the value that digital technologies had on every step of the manufacturing process, from case planning all the way through to the finished product.

While the technology has had some bumps early on, it has only improved over time and has effectively changed dentistry forever.

Digital Workflow

The benefits for clinicians to incorporate digital workflows are immense. Digital technologies increase case accuracy, consistency, speed, and provide unmatched predictability. The return on investment from digital technologies is excellent when incorporated appropriately.

Patient case acceptance is greatly improved, as is patient referral potential. A smooth dental experience is enough to entice patients to speak about their experiences with friends and family.

Intraoral Camera
Intraoral Camera - Digital Technology

One early digital technology used in the dental office was the intraoral camera. Digital intraoral cameras revolutionized communication between the clinician and the patient. The camera, coupled with a large monitor, lets the patient observe what the doctor observes.

During this part of an exam, the following types of visible pathology can and should be shared:

  • Bruxism
  • Plaque buildup
  • Periodontal
  • Caries
  • Broken/ fractured teeth
  • Root exposure
  • Signs of infection or lesions

This creates trust and allows for conversations regarding the findings and treatment options. Intraoral cameras ultimately lead to greater case acceptance and higher profitability in the dental practice. While the main benefit is effective communication, other benefits accompany the use of intraoral cameras such as digital file capture for patient records and submission for insurance claims.

Intraoral Scanner: Patient Preference
Intraoral Scanner - improving workflows

Today, digital intraoral scanner usage is growing and vastly improving workflows in a variety of dental procedures. As more and more clinicians adopt this technology, intraoral imaging will eventually replace conventional impressions. The dramatic increase in digital impression taking can be credited to the issues found with traditional impression methods.

  • Traditional impressions are time-consuming.
  • Impression material can activate a patient's gag reflex.
  • Inaccuracies are not revealed until the impression is poured in stone, requiring the patient to come back for additional impressions.

Patients prefer the use of intraoral scanners over traditional methods, and offices incorporating this type of technology instead of those that don't are seen as state-of-the-art practices. As with the digital intraoral cameras, patients are able to see their scans on the screen, gaining an added level of trust in the clinician. The patient becomes involved in the treatment, and because the technology is relatively new, patients often feel like they are receiving advanced dental care and are more likely to share their positive experiences.

In addition, when they see themselves in a scan, this can open a lot of positive conversation about their oral health. These discussions lead to patients placing greater confidence in clinicians, which greatly improves patient treatment acceptance.

Additional benefits of the intraoral scanner are:

  • The scanning procedure is markedly fast, saving time for both the clinician and the patient.
  • The scans are incredibly accurate.
  • Eliminates the choking and gagging often caused by traditional impression methods.
  • This method offers more efficient processes. If the scan is not satisfactory, it can easily be redone. Determining the accuracy of the scan can be done in real-time while the patient is still in the office.

Intraoral scanners are being used in a wide variety of dental procedures. They are being used for restoration fabrication and play a large role in surgery, orthodontic procedures, and treatment planning. The ability to produce surgery guides, provisionals, appliances, and custom implant abutments are more accessible and more efficient through scanning.

Success Guides of Burbank Dental Lab
Digital Scanning Workflow
Digital Scanning Workflow

As with traditional impressions, however, the scans must be done correctly to ensure accuracy.

The clinician and their staff must complete training to ensure proper and correct implementation of the technology.

The preparations must also be adequate with regard to the type of restoration required. The margins and soft tissue must be managed similarly to traditional impressions to pick up the required data.

Also, Burbank Dental Lab recommends the following:

    1. Three scans are necessary to properly replicate the patient's existing dentition:
      - The arch with the preparatioN
      - The antagonist
      - The bite to aide in proper case mounting
    2. Ensure all of the relevant data has been captured before sending in the file
    3. Ensure all of the gingiva is captured by rotating the wand to scan at least 4-5 mm of the soft tissue.

If the proper steps are taken and time is allowed to work through the learning curve inherent in any new technology, then this technology will have a significant impact on the way dentistry is done.

Digital technology has greatly improved the comprehensive dental exam. They are faster, more pleasant, more accurate, and more transparent. Patients are more involved with the initial diagnostic evaluation and can see the issues and participate more directly in the proposed treatment options. While the lab and dentist experience efficiency and profitability, the patients receive improved care.

Call or chat with Burbank Dental Lab today to find out more about getting started with digital dentistry.

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