Going digital benefits team

July 1, 2002
Just imagine what it would be like if you could transform what is a tedious and repetitive chore for most hygienists and assistants into something that they really love to do.

By Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD, FICD

Just imagine what it would be like if you could transform what is a tedious and repetitive chore for most hygienists and assistants into something that they really love to do.

When did you last hold a meeting to ask your team members what they love about their lives? Do you know the real reasons why they come to work every day?

For many dentists, it's been too long since we asked our staff questions like this. For others, it may even seem a strange question to ask. We all experience the frustration, distraction, and loss of productivity when a valued team member leaves our employment. Low staff turnover is one of the keys to our own happy lives - and yet, we typically pay far too little attention to this all-important topic.

We all take dental radiographs every day. They are an indispensable tool in our practices. In past columns, I have pointed out the enormous advantages of digital radiographs from diagnostic, economic, and patient-preference points of views. For the most part, our hygienists and assistants are the people "in the trenches" when it comes to taking radiographs. So, why not keep our staff members happy and satisfied while they perform this important duty for us?

Just imagine what it would be like if you could transform what is a tedious and repetitive chore for most hygienists and assistants into something that they really loved to do. Can you imagine a re-engineered activity that allows them to interact with patients in new ways, educating and informing them about their teeth, reducing their radiation exposure, and doing it all with greater comfort?

Digital radiography is here to stay. One in six of your colleagues (more than 15,000 U.S. dentists alone) already have discovered that. In addition to viewing beautiful, large, detailed images on their computer screens, they actually can transform the working dynamics of their practices. Bold claims, I know. But just imagine if it were true ... and you were missing out!

My dental assistants and hygienists could not be more pleased with our DEXIS system. They tell me repeatedly that our office could never, ever go back to using X-ray film. This is truer than ever since we added the digital panoramic solution and I finally removed my darkroom forever!

I like to tell you stories from my own practice. We experiment with many technologies and have learned a lot, sometimes through painful trial and error. But don't just take my word for how much team members love digital radiography. Listen to the voices of some of the most experienced and respected staff members around the country:

•"Digital radiography means being efficient ellipse we now produce effectively with a minimum of waste, expense, or unnecessary effort. Once you experience the efficiency of digital radiography, you wonder how you ever did without it." Lisa Lopez, Calif.

•I am so proud to be part of a progressive practice that offers digital radiography. It just gives me more pride in my work, and patients appreciate the fact that they are offered the best in treatment. We have been using digital radiography for four years now, and we still get a "Wow!" from our patients every day." Millie Porter, Wash.

•"Hygienists are born teachers. We love to help, demonstrate, and explain - it's in our nature. We sell the services of our practice by educating our patients. So, when we find a tool that allows us to explain things straightforwardly to our patients, it's natural to use that tool. I am a passionate advocate for digital radiographs." Samira Naba, N.Y.

•"Digital X-ray systems are so easy to use. Many of these systems were designed to be user-friendly. I am convinced that production has gone up in our office, because the patients are able to understand why the dental treatment is necessary. I don't understand why more dental offices aren't using digital X-ray." Sherri Ota, Calif.

•"As an endodontic assistant, digital X-rays have been a huge time-saver in our practice. No more waiting for your film to process! The combination of immediate results, high-definition resolution, patient comfort, lower radiation levels, and user-friendly software make digital X-ray a must for every progressive practice!" Celynn Janes, Texas

•"I've been a hygienist for 24 years, and digital radiography is my favorite technology in dentistry today! I present most of the treatment cases in my office, and I know, without doubt, that digital radiography has increased case acceptance. I love the 'wow' from patients when they see an image magnified." Grethe Whitman, N.C.

I care about my team in St. Louis. They are a great group of people, and I wouldn't change them for the world. They are one reason I look forward to coming to work every day. I can't begin to tell you the gratification it gives me to have found a tool that improves their day - every day!

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD, FICD, practices general dentistry in St. Louis. He also is the editor of St. Louis Dentistry Magazine and spokesman and critical-issue-response-team chairman for the Greater St. Louis Dental Society. His address on the Internet is www.dfdasmiles.com. Contact him by email at [email protected], by phone at (314) 567-5612, or by fax at (314) 567-9047.

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