Choose Wisely: Dentists Decide on New Technology

dentaltechAll dental offices want to boast that they have the latest technology to cure your ailments, but what happens when the new and improved techniques or equipment end up overwhelming the dentists themselves?

Dental specialists are always looking for new technology on the market to make dentistry more precise, cost efficient, and appealing to patients. However, there are always the effects the latest gadgets will have on patient care to consider. Current tooth bleaching materials are either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide-based — but new laser technology could render these materials useless in a new years in order to make for a more efficient dental visit. This can be an expensive investment to purchase new laser equipment, making every technological upgrade an important decision.

“I am constantly reading journals or newsletters looking for a new technology that can make my practice better,” said Lawrence Lizzack who owns a practice in Fair Lawn, N.J. “Everything progresses with time, and we want to do the same.”

But being bombarded with dozens of the “latest technology” throughout a single year can be very stressful. It is difficult to pick and choose which will be the most cost efficient and appropriate for a particular office; its a financial gamble.

Dr. Eli Friedman, who is a specialty dentist for Friedman Dental Group, had this to say “As one of the top dentists in Florida we believe that having the top dental technologies in our offices a benefit to our patients. Most of these technologies are things that make visits for patients more enjoyable and reduce the level of anxiety that some patients experience. The investment is well worth it to give uneasy patients a little more peace of mind.”

Lizzack must weigh the costs and how much it will affect the care he offers patients. Should he be looking at machines that cost over $100,000, or should he wait for the next, more advanced model that offers the same service?

“You have to ask yourself: Do I really need that?” Lizzack said. “It’s a question of: Will it really help my business and patients, or is it just there for a wow factor?”

Of course, any technology that is recommended by other dentists is considered above the rest, especially if it involves new whitening techniques or new ways to treat tooth decay. “BUSINESS QUOTE regarding percentage of people with untreated tooth decay, current teeth whitening options, etc.”

For Lizzack, he bypassed the option to purchase new laser technology to cut through hard and soft tissue, and instead invested in a new X-ray machine that does not require patients to bite down on those cumbersome, plastic-wrapped mouth guards. The new machine simply rotates around the patient’s head and sends the images directly to his laptop.

Other dentists have different strategies when it comes to finding new technology that best suits their offices’ needs. Elliot Frey, who has a practice in Wyckoff, N.J., explained that by taking mandatory dental education classes (to keep up with the industry’s practices), he has found what technology is actually useful. Other dentists use networking and recommendations when deciding what to purchase.

Frey explained that by investing in a new X-ray machine, he and his staff are able to more easily see what is going on with the tooth. Cavities, wear and tear, and other issues are detected in less than half the time due to sharper images.
“What used to take fire or eight minutes now takes a matter of nanoseconds,” said Frey. “It might not seem like a huge jump for one patient, but over the course of a full day of patients, it really adds up.”

The only new lag would be figuring out how to work the new devices, yet this is easily solved by taking dental technology courses to get the office staff up to speed on their new gadgets.