Technology can sometimes get a bad rap – often accused of distancing individuals from one another by eliminating the “human touch.” Of course, sometimes this can be the case. What I’ve come to believe, however, is that today’s advanced dental technology is actually bringing dentists closer to their patients by facilitating a more educated experience and by helping us to better focus on patients’ needs in a more caring way than ever before.
Coming from a place of caring
I’ve come to this idea of “caring” technology based on my experience and philosophy. It begins with the way I define "care," and that is as the comprehensive incorporation of seven elements: knowledge, experience, skill, patience, honesty, humility, and love. And the one thing that encompasses them all is love: love of my profession, love of my patients, and love of my practice and those who help me operate it every day. These crucial elements are what define my mindset. And it is this mindset, in conjunction with today’s ever-advancing technology, that enables dentists to offer patients a higher quality of dental and personal care.
Educating instead of pontificating
So, the question you may be asking now, is “How exactly is this technology being used to create better care?” The answer starts with education, and then goes far beyond that to practical application.
In the pre-internet world, dentistry was a "lecture." Because people only had limited access to information about dental issues, patients seeking knowledge were often subject only to stern doctors dictating terms and treatments to them. The result was an inequitable teacher-student relationship that produced disappointment and discomfort – physically, financially, and emotionally.
However, in the internet era, instead of scare tactics, dental professionals embrace transparency to better meet the needs of their patients. And because patients are now able to research and access a variety of sources and materials regarding a particular topic, dentists no longer feel compelled to scold or scare patients into treatment. Instead, practitioners today work with their patients, explaining and easing patients into understanding the situation and their bodies, so that they, as partners, can develop treatment plans in unison.
Real technology and real results
Here are just a few of the ways that new dental technology has become instrumental in helping dentists to care for patients:
- Panoramic radiographs and cone beam 3D imaging lets us take the leap from "educated guesses" to actually predicting outcomes prior to the start of a procedure.
- Intraoral cameras help us to explain and visualize treatment and greatly improve patient education.
- 3D printers and intraoral scanners mean we can determine and complete cases with precision and speed at levels previously unimaginable.
- Music and movies have helped dentists to create a more cafe-esque atmosphere to improve the patient experience.
- Updated dental office layouts and designs allow practitioners to create a warm and open atmosphere for greater transparency.
Like the rest of the world, the field of dentistry is using ever-advancing technology to make great strides in the way we practice. It’s my belief that dentistry (more so than some other disciplines) is using state-of-the-art technology, hand-in-hand with traditional core values, to provide an even warmer, more welcoming, and more transparent experience for all of our patients. And why are we motivated to pursue continual advances in equipment, procedures, and overall patient experiences? The answer is, because we care.
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