3 technologies that cost less than $500

As the dental profession becomes more competitive, differentiating our practices has never been more important. Dr. Mark E. Hyman reviews three dental technologies—each of which can add value to your practice, improve patient experience, and yet come without an enormous price tag. These innovations can have a dramatic impact in the eyes of patients.

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In 2015, I had the privilege of writing an article about three dental technologies that cost less than $5,000. We focused on the Digital Doc intraoral video camera, the Isolite dental isolation system, and DenMat’s SOL portable soft-tissue diode laser. In 2016, we expanded this list to include Zoom in-office tooth whitening, PeriOptix loupes with Firefly cordless headlight, and the KaVo COMFORTdrive 200 XDR high-speed handpiece.

Now, for 2018, my challenge was to find three technologies for less than $500. Seemed daunting, but here I go!

As the competitive environment in the dental profession continues to heat up, differentiating our practices has never been more important. The experiences patients have from the moment they walk into our practices until the moment they leave determines whether they will become our loyal patients or begin searching for a new dental home. It’s been said that 97% of patients have no clue as to what we are doing for them technically; to them, it’s all about the experience. Small, affordable improvements can make a tremendous difference in the eyes of our patients.

We’ve all seen incredible advances in technology that cater to patients who seek better and faster treatment methods, such as the CAD/CAM revolution. But not every new technology that you may introduce has a high sticker price. Consider the following three technologies that can add great value to your practice without an enormous price tag.


1. Cutting-edge isolation

from Isolite Systems

For example, take the cool Isovac dental isolation adapter. This is the perfect low-cost, high-value entry point for cutting-edge isolation. The strong, ultra-lightweight control head assembly of the Isovac is constructed of an easy-to-clean polymer that you can toss into your autoclave.

What’s more, it has dual vacuum controls that allow you to provide patients with continuous, hands-free vacuum suction on either the upper or lower quadrants, giving you greater control over moisture and oral humidity. The dual vacuum controls also allow you to adjust the flow of air for patients who have greater sensitivity in the area in which you are working. Our superstar assistants can be free to keep the doctor efficient and effective. Our amazing hygienists can dramatically cut their time for scaling and root planing.

The Isovac quickly attaches to any available HVE line. This amazing innovation leads to superior care, greater production, increased patient comfort, and higher satisfaction.


2. Pain-free injections with ‘Super Topical’ anesthetic

compounded by a pharmacy

I pride myself in giving the gentlest injections ever! I hate being numbed and the whole discomfort and angst that encompasses local anesthetic. My life changed due to two advancements: the buffering revolution led by Dr. Mic Falkel and Onset, which changed the pH of our local from 3.5 (lemon juice) to 7.4 (water), and using intraligamental injections with a 30-extra short needle. What could be better than that?

One day, my orthodontist, Dr. Mark Katz, told me how he places the TAD implant devices without an injection. He uses “Super Topical” that is compounded at a pharmacy. Using a mixture of 10% lidocaine, 10% prilocaine, and 2.5% tetracaine, we now have a topical that we use for almost all of our scaling/root planing, without any local anesthetic. Our hygienists dry the tissue, place the Super Topical, and proceed with their gentle, predictable care. Our assistants place this to help the doctor extract loose primary teeth, as well as an alternative to palatal injections during crown and bridge work. Be sure to (1) rinse off the excess so as not to burn the tissue and (2) prevent your patient from swallowing a large bolus of topical.


3. Patient engagement in preventive and periodontal care

from Philips

The research is clear—our patients cannot clean their own teeth and tissue with a manual, handheld brush as effectively as they can with a power toothbrush. The DiamondClean Smart from Philips is a true game-changer. The advancements in this industry are remarkable. This toothbrush has multiple innovations. We see intuitive brushing via its Smart brush head recognition, alerting patients when it’s time to change the brush head. We see superior results, as effectiveness is measured with up to 10-times better plaque removal, a measurable increase.

Tooth whitening measured up to five times whiter in just three days. Research has shown up to 100% decreased tissue inflammation, and a desired improved tongue cleaning deep into the soft, porous surface of the tongue. Our millennial patients love the Smart Sensor Technology; they are more engaged in their oral health with the two-minute timer, a pressure gauge that guides their force, as well as an effective motion detector. DiamondClean provides guidance for where to touch up missed areas, an innovative 3-D mouth map, and a progress report to truly impact lifelong dental health.

These three innovations for less than $500 can have a dramatic impact on your patients, your team, and your love and enjoyment of dentistry. Get started today.


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Mark E. Hyman, DDS, MAGD, received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill and his dental degree from the UNC School of Dentistry. Following a four-month internship in Israel, he completed his two-year oral medicine/general practice residency at UNC Hospital. He is an adjunct full professor at UNC School of Dentistry, advisory faculty at the Pankey Institute, and an advocate for Spear Education.

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