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Top 10 things you can do with your old darkroom

April 15, 2014
If you purchased or built a dental office more than five years ago, you may well have one of those small rooms that used to house your old, temperamental, chemical-consuming, X-ray processor.

By Kent Stapley, DMD

If you purchased or built a dental office more than five years ago, you may well have one of those small rooms that used to house your old, temperamental, chemical-consuming, X-ray processor. Your employees used to wear a path to this room multiple times a day. Some days the processor worked slowly but well. Other days it did not, and you had no choice but to call the $100-per-hour technician.

Then something changed. You decided to try some of those new-fangled digital X-ray sensors. At first, you kept your old X-ray processor "just in case." Then your staff and you stopped going to that little room entirely. The door was shut, and nobody has since given it a second thought.

Digital X-ray technology has proven to be equally reliable and incredibly superior to film in diagnostic quality, time efficiency, overhead reduction, patient exposure, and environmental impact. I have used digital X-ray sensors in my practice for a year and a half now. I would be willing to argue that the digital X-ray has been the single most revolutionary addition to the practice of dentistry since the advent of light-cured composite.

I have been extremely satisfied with the DentiMax sensors my staff has used daily. At first, one of the aspects that excited me the most about these sensors was the price. It made me skeptical that they were one of the least expensive sensors available, while at the same time, being the slimmest. The CRA report on DentiMax sensors rated them very high in comparison to the much more expensive "name brand" sensors of which we have heard much. I am happy to report that the chance I took on these sensors has paid off.

I have also found my digital imaging software to be extremely intuitive and easy to use. The tools it provides are powerful. They have helped me countless times since I have been able to easily diagnose and show my patients what is wrong in their mouths.

My treatment plan presentations have increased in quality and efficiency now that I can easily show patients, on a 23-inch screen, exactly where the problems are. Even more important, I sense that patients trust me more as their dentist. They take ownership of their treatment plans more readily after they have been able to see for themselves, in black and white and a thousand shades of gray, what needs to be done.

So, back to the darkroom. What should we do with these little abandoned rooms that exist or will exist as soon as you make the move to digital?

So, in descending order, here are the "Top 10 Things You Can Do with Your Old Darkroom":

10. Remodel it into a shower
9. A place to put those bulky, old, archived paper files
8. Start a retro photography hobby
7. Install a soda fountain with energy drinks where the processor used to be
6. Change it into a private office for the office manager or associate
5. Panic room! (You decide what kind of panic)
4. Convert it into a floor-to-ceiling saltwater aquarium
3. Create a sauna room (for those cold winter days or when the air conditioner is freezing you out)
2. Turn it into a tanning booth (Great for employee retention)

And the number one thing you can do with your old darkroom:
1. Finally, a place to put that cushy massage chair.

Kent W. Stapley, DMD, has practiced general dentistry in Mesa, AZ for the past 17 years. He owns and practices out of one dental office, but at one time he owned four practices. His practices have used various software programs, including Softdent, Dentrix, Easy Dental, and DentiMax.

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