by Lorin Berland, DDS
For my first column of the year, I want to share a personal experience to help you start the New Year out right. This time of year is about resolutions for the better. What’s a better resolution than to improve your resolution — digitally of course! It’s time to improve your communication with your patients by adding the technology that will increase case acceptance as well as patient satisfaction.
This is an example of what I see everyday, how digital images can make dentistry more fun and more successful: Recently, we finished an incredible case, one that encompassed multiple surgeries and restorative procedures. At the first appointment, the patient seemed to know a good bit about her condition. She made it clear that she had consulted with other dentists. We used our imaging technology to take digital X-rays and “before” pictures. After my presentation, she chose me to restore her mouth. When the case was completed, we added “after” pictures. In both presentations, we used our DEXIS® imaging hub to capture, access, and display all the images. They appeared in her file instantly, right in front of us on our 19-inch monitor. The patient was thrilled with the final result, but that’s just the beginning.
Another patient, who was returning for a second consultation, had a very similar dentition to the first case. Since I had had all the before-and-after pictures of the first patient compiled in the hub, I could, with her permission, easily zoom in on or isolate a part of the image to point out specific areas that would provide insight into the recommended treatment for the second patient. Both of these patients were unique cases, and they both had seen many dentists before arriving at my office. I think they chose my practice because basically I did the whole consultation on the computer.
People are accustomed to thinking visually. Digital radiography offers the chance to literally give patients the big picture of their mouths. In the past, I have had to hold the mirror in the patient’s mouth and ask, “Can you see that?” It was hard for me to have a discussion with a patient when he was sitting with his mouth open, straining to see the mirror, with my hand in his mouth blocking his view of the teeth. In that position, it was frustrating for the patient to comprehend what I was trying to explain, and frustrating for me! Finally, exasperated, the patient ended up saying “uh huh,” because he didn’t want to appear dense. With digital radiography and photography, the whole scenario changed.
Now, the patient is very relaxed, sitting upright in a comfortable position, looking at a large screen. I can sit or stand and make eye contact with the patient. I can point to the pictures, and the patient can point out what he doesn’t understand. It’s a “one-on-one” conversation instead of “one-on-top-of-one.” These two patients chose me over other dentists because they got the full digital picture of their cases. It built understanding and confidence. The patients are the most important part of any dental practice. The key to case acceptance is digital radiography and camera images, and using a software that lets me get down to the business of education easily and quickly.
My suggestion for a New Year’s resolution? Start the year off right. Improve the visual resolution of your patients’ pre- and post-treatment consultations with digital radiographs and digital photographs! Try consulting with your patients “one-on-one.” You will not go back to last year’s hand-in-the-mouth method of case presentation once you and your patients experience the big screen.
Dr. Lorin Berland is an internationally acclaimed cosmetic dentist and one of the most published authorities in the professional dental and general media. Dr. Berland, a Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, is the creator of the Lorin Library Smile Style Guide, www.denturewearers.com, and is the founder of Arts District Dentistry — a multi-doctor specialty practice in Dallas that pioneered the concept of spa dentistry.