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If dentists could possess the magic mirror of Snow White fame, we would not just ask, "Who is the fairest of them all?" but rather, "How do we help our patients to become the fairest of them all?" In this technological age, it seems to me that several goals are within our reach. We can make technology count, offer our patients better smiles, and increase our case acceptance rates with the magic mirror of digital technology.
Combining technologies for case acceptance
In my practice, digital technology has improved case acceptance because it uses different types of imaging to facilitate patient communication. The first step is capturing images that clearly show patients the conditions within their dentition that need correction. I take digital photographs of the upper and lower teeth, occlusal surfaces, buccal corridors, and the front retracted smile with my Nikon 200 camera that is equipped with a macro lens.
With my intraoral camera, the DEXcam3™, I take images of broken amalgams, broken cusps and cracks, and crevices in teeth. No mirror can compete with the clarity and detail that an intraoral picture achieves. Then, if those technologies don’t provide enough golden opportunities for patient education, my digital X-ray with the DEXIS® Platinum sensor makes my case presentation shine even more. We incorporate PAs and bitewings to refer patients to specific areas of concern as well.
Showing patients an expanded view of an abscessed tooth helps them see the problem and realize that a solution must be quickly started. Capturing all of these images takes only a few minutes, because digital imaging is a click-and-capture process. Even the sensor was developed for easy movement around the mouth, making the X-ray process not only quicker but more comfortable for the patient.
After all of these images are captured, the real magic mirror of technology becomes the PowerPoint™ presentation, created by my practice administrator, Jenny Reid. While not all patients receive a PowerPoint™ presentation, some need this visual aid to decide on more complicated or cosmetic treatment plans.
When warranted, patients require more than just an abstract idea of what is wrong and how to fix it. With digital technology, importing the digital images into a PowerPoint™ slide show takes a matter of minutes.
Jenny notes, "I just click on the images, including 3-D scans if needed, put them into a file, and create a photo album. And in the case of the DEXIS software, I can just drag the images directly onto the PPT slide."
Of course, Jenny likes to get a bit creative with the special effects such as color, backgrounds, and other extras that highlight the patient’s dental needs or desires.
The PowerPoint™ file is burned to a CD and given to the patient to take home and show his or her family and friends. The CD continues to educate and encourage case acceptance even after the patient has left our office. Many times, on large cases, patients go home and try to remember the information discussed and find the right words so that others will be able to visualize the problem and the solution. With the PowerPoint™ in hand, they pop the CD into the computer and immediately see the true, clear, detailed facts of my proposal. Usually everyone concurs, "It’s really worth it!"
In this economy, when patients are very aware of their expenditures, having all the facts and images on a CD will help them know that not only did they make the right decision by accepting treatment, but they also chose the right dentist – the one with the magic mirror of digital technology.
Dr. Terry L. Myers is a fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry and a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and the Dental Sleep Disorder Society. He has a private practice in Belton, Mo. Contact Dr. Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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