New dental technology trends that make your competitors scratch their heads.

When you decide to open a dental practice or work as a manager for one, you are taking a risk. To maximize your business’s chances of success, you want to take advantage of the latest technology. But it can be incredibly challenging to keep track of those industry advancements while also handling the day-to-day operations of the practice.

We’ve gathered the new dental technology trends for you, giving you more time to focus on running your practice and treating patients. Many of the technologies outlined below will help you improve the quality of your care. That, in turn, leads to more satisfied patients. Others focus directly on customer satisfaction and retention. The end result of each of the technologies we outline is the ability to retain your current patients and attract new ones.

What’s new in the dental industry?

While there are constant innovations in dentistry and other fields, the following are the most exciting and useful for dental practices. These technologies can make the lives of dentists, dental hygienists, practice managers, and patients easier.

X-Rays

X-rays have been used in medicine since about 1896, but they have advanced over the years. As you know, X-rays help dentists with diagnosis as well as planning before surgeries or seeing adult teeth in children.

definitions of Bitewing, Occlusal, Panoramic and Periapical

The most significant advance in X-rays was the rise of digital ones. These do not use traditional film, and they also reduce the amount of radiation that patients are exposed to. As yet another bonus, the images instantly appear on a computer so dentists can analyze them right away.

Digital X-rays are possible for the same areas of the mouth as traditional X-rays. You can use intraoral or extraoral X-rays. You can use bite-wing X-rays where patients bite down, helping identify the bone condition by a tooth and with overall diagnosis. Or you can use periapical X-rays to see the entire tooth, plus the bone by it. These are particularly helpful for spotting bone loss and abscesses.

Overall, your dental practice can use digital X-rays to find cavities, check for bone support, check implant placement, and confirm that a root canal was performed properly, among other things. Panoramic X-rays can also help spot advanced periodontal disease, jaw tumors, oral cancer, cysts in jawbones, impacted wisdom teeth, sinusitis, and TMJ.

3D Printing

Any dentist knows that every patient is unique and so is their mouth. This is why you need to create molds for things like dentures and mouthguards. 3D printing can do wonders for creating custom-made treatment devices for dentistry. It can potentially print prosthetics, dentures, crowns, and more.

teeth model

As an example, consider crowns. Traditionally, dentists have to make a mold of the tooth, then give patients a temporary crown while a lab makes the permanent one. With 3D printing, however, the permanent crown could be printed on site right away. The wait would only be as 

long as it takes to 3D print, likely hours or less, instead of weeks.

A similar method can be used to create many other types of dental gear, including aligners and retainers.

It could even be used to create specialized dental equipment if necessary. In that case, it would create the equipment with more precision and more quickly than traditional methods. One example would be to create an orthodontic mold before orthodontic treatment involving braces.

3D printing also has applications for dental students. It can be used to create surgical guides or models that are highly accurate.

3D printing is especially useful when combined with CAD (computer-aided design). An alternative to 3D printing is computer-aided manufacture (CAM), which some dentists are using to create crowns in their offices.

The overall benefits of 3D printing in dentistry include saving the dental practice money, saving patients money, improving the patient experience, and providing faster and more accurate treatment.

Oral Health

One of the biggest new dental technologies impacting treatment and overall oral health is artificial intelligence. AI can be particularly helpful when combined with the already-mentioned X-rays, making it easier to accurately diagnose patients.

One of the new dental technology options that your patients can use at home is the smart toothbrush. There is already a handful of these available, with the numbers growing.

Smart toothbrushes typically feature sensors of some sort. They can do several things, from timing your patients’ brushing to ensuring they clean each section of their mouth for long enough. Some can also confirm that they brush with the proper techniques. Others incorporate games to make brushing fun. Of course, for your patients to get the most of these products, you need to ensure that you teach them proper brushing technique first.

illustration of dental caries detected

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are also both growing in the world of dentistry. AR, for example, can help dental students practice and learn so they can provide the best oral care in the future. VR is also incredibly useful for students, as it can transport them to the operating room or practice. Both technologies can also help established dentists expand their skills.

Yet another new dental technology dentists can use when treating patients is an intra-oral camera. This can be useful during cleanings, check-ups, and even certain surgeries. This technology essentially uses a very small camera that can easily and comfortably fit in the patient’s mouth. This way, patients don’t have to open their mouths as wide, but dentists can easily see the entire mouth.

Another piece of technology used during exams is the diode laser, which helps dentists find cavities and tooth decay. This is an alternative to the traditional “explorer” used. Dentists can use this laser to tell if a tooth is healthy based on whether or not the tooth glows. Glowing teeth indicate decay. The only caveat with this technology is that it doesn’t work on teeth with fillings.

Of course, there are also advances that have led to improved materials for oral care. For example, technology has developed thinner veneers that let you preserve more of the patient’s tooth and improved resin for bonding and filling.

Dental technology that pleases patients

In addition to the new dental technology that improves treatment, there is also a rise in technology to improve the overall patient experience.

One of the most important categories is communications. In this case, there are systems like Podium that incorporate automation and let you meet your customers on the channels they prefer, such as texting. Podium is unique in that its Inbox tool lets you view and use all modes of communication on a single platform. You can combine emails, texts, social media, and more on a single platform. Patients will appreciate your ability to respond to them on their preferred medium. They will also appreciate your ability to keep the conversation going across platforms.

Customers will also appreciate the ability to do more via text, such as make payments or leave a review. This combination should improve your customer experience. The ability to make payments through texts is still fairly new, so technologies like this help your practice stand out. Meanwhile, by allowing texted reviews, you can boost your response rate and therefore, your online reputation.

Yet another new dental technology to boost patient experience is the technology that helps you receive feedback. When you have feedback, you have a clearer idea of what your practice is doing well and whether there are any areas that need improvement.

In the past, the most common ways to get feedback were comment cards. But technology makes it much easier for patients to deliver feedback digitally. This way, patients feel like you hear their ideas and incorporate them. At the same time, you will likely make improvements based on the feedback, helping you attract and retain other patients. 

Conclusion – why new dental technology is relevant to your business.

Just like any industry, there are always new dental technology advances appearing. Your dental practice should work to incorporate as many of them as makes sense for you. X-rays and 3D printing can improve the quality, efficiency, and accuracy of dental care. Oral health technologies help you improve patient care in the office and help patients improve their care at home so they have better overall oral health.

On top of that, communications technologies improve the patient experience by helping you stay connected. The ability to text patients or communicate with them on their platform of choice will improve customer retention and help you gain new customers.

Podium is the simplest way to incorporate communications technology into your dental practice. Use it to text or email clients and stay in touch. Use it to remind them about payments or gather feedback and reviews. This technology can improve your office efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Bryan Oram
Bryan Oram AVP of Healthcare Enterprise Sales

Bryan Oram is a Healthcare professional at Podium, the leading messaging platform that connects healthcare businesses with their patients.

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