New tech office ideas

Feb. 1, 2011
Close your eyes and picture your new dental office and your ideal ultramodern treatment room. What do you see?

For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: dental technology.

Close your eyes and picture your new dental office and your ideal ultramodern treatment room. What do you see? If you are like most dentists, you will see an X-ray unit attached to the wall, a bright overhead operatory light, and if you are really thinking big, you may envision a clinical microscope. Looks good, but the fact is, new technology has already made our "state-of-the-art" treatment room obsolete.

The first thing you can lose is the X-ray unit on the wall. Handheld X-ray units such as the NOMAD® from Aribex (www.aribex.com) can do everything the wall mount can with a lot more flexibility. It is similar to the changes we have experienced with telephone technology. Not long ago, a household had a single telephone and it was often hung on the kitchen wall. To use it, you went to the phone; the phone did not come to you. If you wanted to talk on the phone in a second room, it meant purchasing and installing a second phone in room number two. Now, with cell phones, we have a single phone that goes with us, and we can use it anyplace, anytime.

X-ray units have been the same. A dental office had an X-ray hung on the wall. If a patient needed a radiograph, the patient went to the machine. If you wanted to take radiographs in a different room, it meant purchasing a new machine and installing it there. Now, with handheld X-ray units, the unit goes with us, and we can use it anyplace, anytime. Installing an X-ray unit on the wall in a second room is not a casual exercise. It requires special wall backing or reinforcement and a power source.

Another benefit of handheld is no more hoping everything stays where you carefully put it when you run from the room, only to find a cone cut or worse in the developed film. The operator holds the device so there is no drift from overextended or worn arms, and you can see it when the patient moves or the sensor slips out of position.

A final benefit is that a handheld X-ray unit can be used anywhere - not just in the dental office. This makes it ideal for mobile clinics, nursing homes, hospital wards, missionary work, and even forensics.

The second thing you can get rid of is the overhead operatory light. While you are at it, you can trash the intraoral camera, lose the loupes, eliminate the microscope, and trade in the computer monitor. All of these devices can be replaced by a digital video procedure scope such as MagnaVu from Magnified Video Dentistry (www.magnavu.com).

The MagnaVu consists of a high-quality digital camera, precision optics, a bright LED light, a mounting system, and a monitor to display what the camera is capturing. The camera optics allow for 23x optical zoom with additional digital zoom up to 46x. By way of comparison, most dental loupes have between 2.5x and 4.5x magnification, and chairside microscopes range up to 20x.

The camera images can be captured as either digital video or individual still images. These images can be used as you would use an intraoral camera to show things to patients or as an aid in diagnosis or for documentation.

The magnified image is displayed on the monitors, which are positioned so that the operator and assistant can view the treatment area while sitting in an ergonomic, heads-up position. No more neck and back strain as you bend down twisting to see that maxillary lingual surface. In fact, the complete MagnaVu system includes a comfy chair with armrests that accommodate the proper heads-up and relaxed position.

For a lecturer, a dental training institute, or a dental school, a digital video procedure scope is essential. It allows you to easily demonstrate actual clinical procedures to a handful of students looking over your shoulder or to a room full of hundreds of dentists. The procedures can be recorded and archived for future training.

Close your eyes again. What do you see now? The future is coming, and it will be amazing!

Dr. Larry Emmott is the leading authority on dental high tech and one of the most entertaining speakers in dentistry. He is also a writer and consultant. To find out about his high-tech training programs, technology guides, and other services, call (602) 791-7071 or visit www.drlarryemmott.com.

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