148215302 © Pop Nukoonrat | Dreamstime.com
Dreamstime Xl 148215302

3 dental technologies to adopt in 2023

Dec. 14, 2022
Is the economic downturn making you hesitant to adopt new technology? Artificial intelligence and voice-activated technology can change your practice for the better regardless of financial conditions.

Technology in various areas of health care continues to advance and improve clinical workflows, especially in the dental industry. As with nearly every other area of health care, it’s hard to overstate the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on adoption of new technology. It has sped up what may have taken years to vet, train, and implement new technologies into a matter of weeks or, in some cases, days.

Although keeping up with new technologies can have its challenges, providers must embrace the technological future of dentistry. The most successful dental practices (and dentists) will keep tabs on the latest innovations in technology that create a positive impact on patient care and quickly learn about and adopt them in 2023.

AI to stream workflows

Advanced technology is being used to help dental practices streamline workflow, help with treatment planning, and strengthen patient-provider relationships. The latest in dental innovation and technology can be seen with the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Providers can utilize AI technology to deliver consistent diagnoses and treatment plans.

Thanks to COVID-19, AI is having its day in dentistry

Disruptive innovations in dentistry: How AI and machine learning are enhancing resin-based composites

This technology allows providers to examine x-rays and catch potential issues in hard-to-see places, supporting human eyes that may grow tired throughout the day. AI scans, for example, can benchmark nearly every surface of every tooth against 10 million indexed images and generate an objective screening or snapshot of the patient’s tooth and gum health in far greater detail than the naked eye.

By comparing x-rays over the course of 24 months, the diagnostic support software can identify what has changed over time within each tooth to highlight any problem areas, which leads to more accurate, streamlined treatment planning. Additionally, the visual nature of this AI helps decrease any doubt that patients may have and helps the patient and provider build a relationship of mutual trust.

Voice-activated record-keeping

Voice-activated technology is another innovation within dentistry that is helping providers. The use of voice-activated technology saves dentists and team members the time it usually would take to pause and write out notes for each patient after examination. Instead, the clinician can call out observations and notes on each tooth, and the computer records within the electronic health record (EHR). Some technologies are at 99% accuracy with voice diction, meaning that after the appointment is over, the provider can quickly scan the voice-recorded notes and be confident the information was recorded correctly. This leaves dental professionals more time to visit with patients, address their concerns, and provide superior care experiences.

Intraoral scanning

In addition to AI diagnostic and record-keeping tools, clinicians must leverage other modern technologies as well. For example, intraoral images collected through 3D scanners are reinvigorating oral health professionals’ ability to educate patients on the best health habits and treatment plans. With this technology, hygienists can take a full-mouth scan in three to five minutes, which gives them clear images of the patient’s mouth in real time. These images, often of fractured teeth, deteriorating restorations, calculus, and gingival inflammation, are easily the best tools dental professionals have to help patients understand what’s happening in their mouths and what needs to be addressed first. Patients can see areas of heavy occlusal wear and periodontal conditions with these visuals, and providers and patients can discuss treatment plans with more personalized instructions. Additionally, this transparent channel of communication helps prioritize next steps for treatment in a more collaborative, engaging way. Doing so helps improve treatment adherence and follow-through, a win for both parties.

What about technology in tough economic conditions?

During economic downturns and times of uncertainty, it may seem easy to shelve innovation instead of embracing new technologies. But the market and, more specifically, patient preferences evolve regardless of financial headlines. Dental offices that embrace innovation can reap significant benefits. From alleviating administrative burdens and retaining your workforce to helping patients understand what is happening and encouraging engagement with their care, innovation can and should be a dental practice’s competitive edge. For offices looking to lean in on innovation in 2023, diagnostic second-opinion software, voice-activated note-taking, and advanced intraoral 3D scanners are great places to start.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Through the Loupes newsletter, a publication of the Endeavor Business Media Dental Group. Read more articles and subscribe to Through the Loupes.