Dentistry is facing rapid changes brought about by the digital age, compliance, new technology and patient expectation.
Until recently private practice led our profession with new technology but this is going to rapidly change with the opening of the new Dental School in Dunedin. The School can boast that it has the latest technology in the world.
The School is teaching students to transition from older techniques to the more modern approach to allow them to integrate into private practice in a smooth fashion and to allow for dental practices that may be lagging in modern technology.
For private practices this means that many will have to step up the progression towards high technology to meet the new graduate dentists' expectations and that of a knowledgeable patient base. This will include; buying equipment, investing in staff and professional training to upskill.
At our Practice there is a deliberate strategy to keep up with the rate of change in technology which is witnessed and acknowledged in a positive way by our patients.
Much of this technology is very expensive and we feel fortunate that because we have a large number of operators the cost can be spread amongst us. For smaller practices it can be difficult to justify investment in technology because the investment versus financial return may not stack up. For this reason dental practices may in the future vary greatly in what they can deliver to the patient.
For a potential patient who is investigating what dental practices have to offer I will mention some things that can help one make a choice of which practice to join.
At my practice the patient/dentist relationship is paramount. Without a good relationship all else fails. Once a good relationship is cemented it is time to consider what the dental practice has to offer to suit your needs.
From a technology point of view things to consider;
•Digital x-rays expose patients to lower levels of radiation than film. Toxic chemicals used in developing and fixing film are not safe for the environment.
•The introduction of Cone Beam Computer Tomography (CBCT) has introduced 3D imaging to give greater detail for diagnosis. This is especially good for diagnosing the position of nerves and other important structures near wisdom teeth that need removal and for the accurate placement of dental implants.
•The use of microscopes to locate small root canals that otherwise can be missed. This process makes root canal treatment more successful. Also the use of rotary reciprocating instruments has improved success rates of this treatment.
•3D scanners can now take images for making crown and bridges. This helps the patient who gags easily on impressions to get less traumatic treatment.
•The use of the highest quality materials available. This helps the longevity of treatment.
•Modern machinery delivers modern dentistry quickly and better.
It is my hope that you will get some insight about where Dentistry is headed and if you are considering options you can make a more informed choice.
Dr Gary Winter
Dental on Raffles, Napier