Top Five New Year’s Resolutions for Dental Professionals

As 2015 draws to a close, it’s natural to reflect on the year and examine how things might be done differently in the next. What worked, what didn’t and what can doctors do to make 2016 even better than 2015? With that in mind, here are the top New Year’s resolutions for oral health care professionals.

  1. Make the switch to digital: Switching from film to digital technology is the key to all the following resolutions. Digital technology uses fewer consumables; helps you move from diagnosis to treatment faster; and is often safer for patients and staff by providing a lower dose. You can start small with a digital intraoral sensor, or take a brief survey to determine where you are on your digital journey and discover what your needs may be.
  2. Streamline your impression process: It’s almost 2016, time to take your impressions to the next level. Doing away with traditional impressions—and all the consumables, wasted time and discomfort to patients that goes with them—and introducing a digital scanner to your workflow is an efficient way to modernize your practice. An intraoral scanner captures high-resolution 2D and 3D images which are then used to create digital impressions. If you choose a scanner that’s part of an open system, you can then send the STL file of the impression to any lab that accepts digital files. Patients will notice a difference, too, as the scanner head is much more comfortable than the gag-inducing PVS and trays associated with traditional impressions.

  3. Implement safer imaging protocols for improved patient care: As a doctor, your patients are your priority year-round. However, the New Year is a good time to reassess your imaging safety protocols. There are several ways you could do this. One is to look for a cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) system that offers intelligent dose management. If you already own a CBCT system, see if new modules that offer lower dose or faster scan times have become available within the past year. Take the time to ensure you’re keeping your patients as safe as possible for a healthy 2016.

  4. Build better relationships with your patients: Who wouldn’t like to build loyalty among their patients in the New Year? One of the ways you can do this is by simplifying their visit to your practice before they even set foot in the door. Remind them of their appointments with texts, emails or recorded phone calls—whichever they’d prefer. Allow them to fill out important documents electronically from home, or at a kiosk or on an iPad in your office. Even something as simple as allowing them to pay bills online is a convenience that any patient would appreciate. A trip to the dentist can be stressful. You can improve relationships with your patients and increase loyalty with just a few simple options to make their visit a little less stressful.

  5. Expand your diagnostic capabilities through system upgrades: Again, using the latest technology doesn’t have to mean purchasing a new system every year. Instead, you can stay relevant in 2016 and improve your diagnostic capabilities by upgrading your existing system. For example, a cephalometric arm added to your 2D panoramic system allows you to perform a wider range of diagnoses and treatments right in your office, rather than referring patients out to imaging centers.

With these resolutions in mind, you can ensure that 2016 will be happy and healthy for you, your staff and your patients. What are some other goals and resolutions you have for your practice next year? Whatever they may be, Happy New Year!

Edward Shellard, D.M.D. Contributor