Belle DuCharme

CDPMA, Dental Training Consultant

The Future of Dentistry is Happening Now

We live our daily lives in stride and accept what is in front of us because that is how we cope and get through the day.  Relying on a trusted routine to manage each day can offer security. When you look at the future there may be new skills, technology, techniques that offer better solutions to the usual way of doing things. For many people change comes with difficulty.  Anticipating the future, should we be prepared for changes now or adjust when they come? There are always the trendsetters, movers, and shakers who bring about change that the industry embraces and accepts as standard or discards as “well that didn’t work.”  How do we know what will work for our future and what won’t until it is tested?

In the 1980s, computers in dental practices were dismissed by many as a “fad” and not suitable for business because they weren’t “reliable.”  I know because I was working in dental practices during those years. I attended a computer training seminar that spoke about the future of dentistry with computers and I was excited that the office I worked for was going to buy a system, but use it for bookkeeping only.  The appointment book module was available, but they wanted to stay on the paper appointment book because the computer would surely make terrible mistakes, which would upset patients. I was disappointed. 

 A few dentists today are still using a paper appointment book and for that matter, paper charts too and this is long after the software systems have become very efficient in managing patient information, clinical data,  insurance information, and practice management numbers to a high level of accuracy.

I recall in the 1980s and 1990s assisting at the dental chair for endless endodontic procedures. Measuring with paper points and gutta-percha and guessing that the length was correct has been wildly improved with the advent of the operating microscope(OM). It can see the fracture in the floor of the tooth and has saved countless patients from the suffering of a failed procedure.  The last 16 years has revealed a revolution in stellar technologies, superior instruments, and materials for non-surgical and surgical endodontics that has changed how endodontics is delivered worldwide.

 Also, on the clinical front, we are seeing more dental implants placed by general dentists because of the better technology of CT and CBCT(cone beam computed tomography) scans, drilling systems and placement techniques.   Companies like Little Implant Company,( teach the dentist and the team, provide all the drills, implants, restorative platforms, and instructions in an efficient and affordable package.

Orthodontics has been challenged by the DIY clear teeth straightening aligners popping up all over the country.  Cheaper for the patients than products recommended by dentists, consumers don’t understand that there are consequences to teeth movement that should be monitored by a qualified, trained orthodontist.  The American Dental Association has “strongly discouraged” this practice because of the potential harm to the patient yet companies selling this product are still heavily marketing on all media fronts.  What will dental professionals see in the future for patients who have believed the media/advertisers and have forgone good dental care to save money? 

On the business side of dentistry for the patients without dental insurance, dental discount plans are surging in popularity.  The cash patient for so long been left out when it came to dental benefits, and the average family couldn’t afford routine preventive care.  Far too many cash patients showed up as emergencies because of finances not dislike of dentistry.

Discount plan enrollees enjoy immediate savings of 10-60% off the regular or standard fee cost of dental care from thousands of participating dentists and dental specialists nationwide.  Save money on routine care like exams and cleanings and also other care such as root canals, crowns, bridges, dentures, and many other dental procedures. Find a member dentist or have your dentist become a member.

  The plus for dentists is that they can now see more patients and the plans even though discounted require that the patient pays in full the day of service so that there are no billing costs and no claim forms to fill out and file.  As a participating member dentist, you agree to accept the discounted fees but pay nothing to be a member. The patient pays a membership fee to the plan company.

We are also seeing the future of dental business now as more practices, general and specialty are outsourcing work such as billing insurance, claim appeals, account receivable collections, bookkeeping/accounting, and many human resource duties. 

 Companies such as an online job placement service make finding qualified dental personnel easy and affordable without having to pay hiring fees and dealing with the limited resources of a temp/employment agency.

Dentists are discovering that the entire team needs to be with the patients when they are in the practice, not on the phone with insurance companies and verifying information on applicants resumes, phoning references and other administrative tasks that are better served by experts. 

The future of dentistry is now, and changes happen continually so keep in the mainstream and explore and research the new trends to be involved and to keep your practice innovative and up to date.  Improvements in how patients are cared for are served by being able to have more time to spend with them. 


Dental Billing Tips and News for Pros; Edition #140


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