Monday, April 1, 2019

Using Technology for Better Aesthetic Outcomes

Interested in how to incorporate tech in a variety of ways to ensure better cosmetic outcomes?  That’s the concept that I embraced in my latest article for Dental Products Report.  It’s interesting that sometimes, even for me, breaking things down into manageable parts becomes a bit of “forest and trees” when it comes to explaining how I do things.  By that, I mean I’ve been using tech for so long and in a variety of outside the box concepts that I sometimes forget that not everyone is doing it that way.
So for this article, I tried to take a look at the individual tech steps I use/take to get the best possible outcomes possible.  Part of the fun of the tech utilization is that it gives me a chance to embrace new ways of doing things and figuring out better process for better results.  Here’s what I came up for this issue:
Technology is so embedded into everything we do now. The seamlessness of the experience frequently allows us to forget how things “used to be” even just a few years ago.
In the hour prior to starting on this article I’ve emailed multiple people, had a Twitter DM conversation with someone on Oahu, read a story in a Pakistani newspaper, updated some contacts (where those updates immediately appeared on all my devices), and used AirDrop to send a photo from my laptop to my phone. Oh, and not once did I think about how difficult any of those things might be. They just happened with hardly any effort on my part.
We could sure use a bit more of that in dentistry right now. Moving data around is a whole lot easier than it used to be, but with the security concerns we have regarding patient data and HIPAA compliance, reliable encryption by some program that was something of an “industry standard” could certainly help.
Often in dentistry we see tremendous advantages in our practices from technology, but the idea of cross-platform compatibility from one company to another would certainly help things. It would also be tremendous if the data was device agnostic for things such as CBCT scans. I’d love to be able to open them on my Mac without having to use a program from a completely different vendor than what I use on the Windows computers in my office.
However, there are times when we can actually coordinate a “symphony of technology” in our offices. By that term, I mean that we can coordinate different technologies so they blend together in a harmony that works better together for a better overall result. One of the best procedures for this type of “many technologies, one goal” scenario is cosmetics.
More from the author: The best tech to enhance your practice
The education
There are always things we can do to improve. In my book, that’s a lot of what technology is all about, and, personally, I think one of the principle ways we can improve in dentistry is through communication.
Often in the world of cosmetics the patient has an idea of what he or she wants, but he or she really doesn’t know how to get there. Sometimes patients’ expectations can be greater than what can be delivered. Sometimes those results are “possible” but require things like orthodontics or soft tissue surgery. The secret to having an acceptable outcome is often directly related to communication.
I say this all of the time, but that’s because it’s so important. Experts state human beings receive more than 85 percent of their information through their eyes. Translated, that basically means you can talk until you’re blue in the face, but people won’t remember much of it and they probably won’t comprehend much of it either.
What they’ll remember is what they see. So, it’s critically important to use visual tools when you communicate with patients. We have lots of educational models in the office that we can quickly access to show a patient the difference between implants, bridges, crowns, veneers, etc. Many patients know they want a great smile, but most don’t understand how to get one.                                                                                                       

The plan                                                                           
I’m a big fan of the expression “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” When you’re performing large cases, it’s so much easier to accomplish the end if you start with a solid plan.  Once we’ve educated the patient on the options, we then enter the planning phase. I’m an “info hound,” and by that I mean I’d much rather have too much information than too little.
Normally the process of a big case starts in hygiene; however, that’s only the first step. Hygiene helps determine the patient’s wants and needs. Then comes the visual education. At that point the patient is advised to set up a data gathering appointment, which allows us to collect the extensive secondary dataset that we need for the full treatment plan. Hygiene is continually collecting primary data, which is used for routine diagnosis and treatment planning. Secondary data is what we need to provide superior extensive or elective treatment.
At the secondary appointment, we’ll get a cone beam scan and also scan the full mouth with our iTero® Element unit ( We’ll have the iTero scans converted into study models.  I like this process for two reasons:

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