Terry L. Myers, DDS, FAGD
For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: dental technology, digital imaging, digital radiography, digital X-rays, 3-D imaging, cone beam, future generations, Dr. Terry L. Myers.Now that my son, Glen, has started college, I have begun to reflect on the influence of past generations and MY RESPONSIBILITY TO INFLUENCE THE FUTURE. One principle remains constant - no matter what the age, we can all learn from one other. Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget once noted, "The principal goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done - men who are creative, inventive, and discoverers." My goal is to make technology count, for all the generations in the office.
I am proud that my office includes a mix of ages and stages - from Dr. Paul Perme, previous owner who still practices at age 78, to Dr. Chris Wenburg, whom we welcomed to the practice in July 2010. Here are their thoughts on "going digital" in our dental office.
Glen Myers, predental student at Rockhurst University in Kansas City: "In my small high school, my assignments were done on paper; in college, we submit our work with the use of technology. By the time I get out of dental school, I expect the iPhone to create even more dental apps. I remember when my dad developed X-rays in a processor. Now, instead of waiting, he immediately sees digital images on the computer monitor. Film would definitely be a step back."
Dr. Chris Wenburg, new associate: "I experienced digital technology after graduating from the University of Nebraska in 2006 and after my residency at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. My first office had a phosphor-plate system. Here, at Keystone Dentistry, we have a DEXIS® digital X-ray system and a Gendex medium field-of-view cone beam. Now, after reading digital images blown up to full screen on a monitor, it's hard to read tiny film X-rays. Access to patient records is very convenient; to prepare for a case I can pull up the patient history with just a click of the computer mouse. I can take more precise measurements, such as tooth length and bone density, for root canals and other procedures. The CBCT increases my options even more, and I am looking forward to the opportunities for growth."
Allie Ladd, dental assisting intern from Concord College in Kansas City: "Although I feel like I can perform better knowing about traditional film methods and digital radiography, from my work at this practice, I see how much time is saved with digital X-ray. The reduced radiation is so important to me that I point it out to the patients so they can share my increased confidence."
Cecilia Thompson, our dental assistant for seven years: "Digital radiography improves patient education. Often, the patient looked at film X-rays but didn't see anything. Our monitors are in front of the dental chair, and because of the image clarity and the ability to use contrast, the patient can tell that the problem the doctor is pointing out is really there. This builds trust."
Dr. Paul Perme: "After 50 years with traditional radiography, I was skeptical about my ability to adapt to digital X-ray, but soon it became an integral part of my daily life. Besides all the other attributes of the computer age, collaborating with colleagues is so much easier than sending X-rays by regular postal mail. As a result, treatment is not delayed any longer than necessary."
Dr. Myers: "I enjoy the ability to access patient records from home in case of an after-hours emergency. And, I am thrilled that my technology has provided positive experiences for every person in my office. I look forward to the day when Glen will join our team. In preparation, I'll continue to make technology count, and keep my spirit of discovery active for him, my colleagues and staff, and my patients."Dr. Terry L. Myers is a fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry and a member of the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and the Dental Sleep Disorder Society. He has a private practice in Belton, Mo. You may contact Dr. Myers at [email protected].