Jul/Aug 2007
Volume 3, Issue 7

From the Editor

Gerard Kugel, DMD, MS, PhD

Dear Readers,

It’s cliché and overused, but it’s a statement of fact: Digital technology is changing the way clinicians practice dentistry and the manner in which patients participate in their own treatment equation. As our cover feature presents, we have arrived at The Age of Digital Dentistry.

We can work faster and base our treatment-planning decisions on more detailed information; we’re seeing what was previously invisible. We can diagnose and, therefore, treat diseases earlier; what was once a “wait-and-see” notch can now be quickly confirmed as an early sign of caries. We can communicate with colleagues and patients in new and inspiring ways; whereas we once had to wait days or weeks for a consultative review of x-rays, we can now have a second opinion within hours, if not minutes. We can create a more comfortable, ergonomic, and efficient environment for staff and patients alike; there’s no more walking back and forth between operatories, the front office, the back office, and anywhere in between to deliver information where it needs to go.

Reasonable Responsibilities. With all of this digital technology, we still bear the responsibility of applying it knowledgably and appropriately to both patient care and the management of patient records. Digital technology of all kinds is expensive, but cutting corners on those aspects that protect us and our patients is a dangerous oversight. When incorporating new software, wireless technologies, or other mechanisms for obtaining, creating, and sharing patient data, we must ensure that it’s secure, safe, and effective. This criterion is applicable to both administrative data (insurance/personal records) and clinical data (digital radiographs or impressions, charts, diagnoses).

Think Before You Buy. What are your motivations for incorporating a digital technology into your practice? Is it greater efficiency? Is it the desire to provide better patient care? Or is it a quest to increase revenues by improving case acceptance? Recognize that whatever your ultimate objective for the technology is, a commitment is still necessary on your part and from your staff to diligently, routinely, and properly use the technology. As our feature presentation advises, it’s also important to analyze the technology to determine if it’s appropriate for the practice environment and for the plan in place.

Try the Tried-and-True. Similar to other product genres that I have offered cautionary suggestions about, clinicians have been encouraged by the experts interviewed for our cover feature to “wait and see” when it comes to very new technologies. Before incorporating something so innovative and so new into the dental practice, it is perhaps prudent to wait until the bugs have been ironed out. Since so many technologies have the potential to disrupt the manner in which the practice operates, it’s best to see how a new technology weathers the storm of ongoing and multiple evaluations and implementations to determine if it’s worth the investment.

We hope you enjoy this issue and find that it delivers relevant and trustworthy information that you can apply to your practice, particularly as you embark on any digital technology purchases you have planned. We encourage you to send us your feedback to letters@insidedentistry.net. As always, your thoughts, opinions, and reactions are our motivations to continually enhance our clinical content and coverage of today’s topics of interest.

Thank you for reading and, most of all, thank you for your continued support.

With warm regards,

Gerard Kugel, DMD, MS, PhD
Associate Dean for Research
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine
gkugel@aegiscomm.com

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