A dentists guide to the Internet

W elcome to the new millennium. I hope you have all become quite computer and Internet proficient by now. The Internet is an amazing place. I have spent more than two years trying to convince you of this fact in this publication and in presentations around the country. One thing is certain: The Internet is no longer the future. It is the present, with much growth still to come.

A dentist`s guide to the Internet

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS

W elcome to the new millennium. I hope you have all become quite computer and Internet proficient by now. The Internet is an amazing place. I have spent more than two years trying to convince you of this fact in this publication and in presentations around the country. One thing is certain: The Internet is no longer the future. It is the present, with much growth still to come.

Many of you are still not getting online. You may answer surveys stating that you have Internet access, but having access and using the Internet on a daily basis are two completely different things. Many of you get online sporadically, but do not know how much this medium can help you in your day-to-day lives and practices. Don`t be afraid of cyberspace! Don`t be left behind! You and your dental practices have much to gain from using this incredible technology.

The Internet can assist you and your practice in a variety of ways, such as:

- Information: Get information, MSDS sheets, and instructions from manufacturers.

- Communication: Communicate with patients via e-mail, send recare notifications, statements, and announcements. You can also send out treatment plans to patients or specialists.

- Continuing education: You can now get continuing education lectures, articles, discussion groups, and e-zines (electronic journals) on the Web and via e-mail. Imagine the convenience of learning during your free time. You can save information and review it whenever it is needed. You can observe clinical procedures and have one-on-one discussions with the clinicians as they perform procedures. The possibilities are endless.

- Research: Learn to use those cyberspace search engines.

- Download software: You can obtain practice-management software, as well as updates to existing programs, over the Internet.

- Internal marketing: Send out cards, virtual flowers, etc.

- External marketing: A well-designed Web site!

- Community: You can communicate with fellow dental practitioners or your laboratory technician via e-mail.You can get feedback from others about clinical cases, new dental products, or anything else you may desire.

Two excellent discussion groups are the Internet DentalForum (//idf.stat.com) or GenR8TNext (www.genr8tnext.com). Other sites worth mentioning include net32 (www.net32.com), Edentalstore (www.edentalstore.com), and Dentaltown (www.dentaltown.com).

Dentistry is a very isolated industry. We work independently of each other and sometimes have little interaction with other dentists. The Internet gives us the opportunity to correspond with other dental professionals.

- E-commerce: Who hasn`t heard of "dot-com" companies such as Ebay, Priceline, and Amazon? Advertisements for these businesses are everywhere, and for good reason. You can buy almost anything, including dental products, online. Most companies have Web sites set up to sell you their products. You can also access auction sites and bid on items, or unload some things of your own.

The dental industry is right in the middle of this e-commerce explosion. Companies have made it very simple to do your purchasing online. Most have Web sites that allow you to view their products and instructions for their use, clinical techniques, and advice. Some sites will even do price comparisons for you. The Internet is up and running 24 hours a day. You can do your shopping at any time, and from anywhere you can find a computer.

There`s no end to the benefits of using the internet. Just start using it! You will save time and money. Once you begin using this phenomenal technology, you will never want to do without it.

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

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