Technology in the service of a vision

April 1, 2005
When I opened my dental practice in 2002, I had spent more than a decade as an associate.

When I opened my dental practice in 2002, I had spent more than a decade as an associate. That experience helped me learn through firsthand observation what it means to manage a dental practice. I was fortunate to do that, and I think it helped me avoid many of the mistakes new dentists commonly make.

But more important, it gave me a chance to develop my vision of what a dental practice should be. It also enabled me to understand that certain tools are indispensable in realizing that vision. Among the most important of those tools is the DEXIS® Digital X-ray System, which is my choice of radiography equipment.

Before I go into detail, let me tell you about that vision. First, I wanted a practice that would help my patients feel better physically through better dental health and emotionally by improving their self-images. That meant I would be spending quality time with my patients, and I would be involving them directly in their treatment. I also wanted their comfort and safety to be a high priority. My vision meant that I needed to establish an atmosphere of trust with each of my patients.

During my time as an associate, the dentist I worked for installed DEXIS digital radiography equipment. Within a few days it was obvious that the new technology made a difference in the quality of treatment patients received and in their perceptions of that treatment. It improved our efficiency, and it was a great educational and marketing tool. And this is equally important - the team was excited about how easy it was to use the new X-ray system.

In his office, the increased efficiency translated into seeing more patients and increasing revenues. I knew that in my practice the focus would be different. That’s where my vision comes in.

Instead of using improvements in efficiency to see more patients, I used the extra time my digital radiography system gave me to increase the amount of time I spent with each patient. I don’t have a problem with digital radiography improving the bottom line, but it’s not central to my vision. Getting to know patients better and using extra time to involve them in treatment and make them comfortable is more important to me than increasing revenues. (I’ve also found that it improves the bottom line without my having to give up the service aspect that is important to my vision.)

But extra time is not the only thing I gained in realizing my vision. I love to teach, and digital radiography allows me to indulge my passion for education. (I recently discovered that “teacher” and “doctor” come from the same root word, so there’s a strong historical connection between teaching and providing health care.)

Teaching is such a big part of involving patients in their treatment that I can’t imagine practicing dentistry without digital radiography.

Large, clear images and the ability to enhance and highlight certain aspects of those images ensure my patients know exactly why I recommend treatments. They appreciate it, too. One recently said, “Using digital radiography should be a rule for all dentists.”

Digital radiography is also critical regarding comfort and safety aspects of my vision. My patients understand that their radiation exposure is reduced by as much as 90 percent more than certain types of film X-rays. They also appreciate the comfort of the small, rounded-edge sensor as much as they appreciate the warm blankets and eye pillows we provide.

In some practices, implementing the latest technology becomes almost an end in itself. The most important thing to me is making technology my own - not being a slave to it. That’s why technology remains at the service of my vision.

Dr. Cynthia Brattesani maintains a private practice in San Francisco. She was awarded the prestigious ADA Golden Apple New Dentist Leadership Award in 1996. She is an enthusiastic member of organized dentistry, having held positions at the local, state, and national levels. You may reach her at [email protected].