Technology is changing the world around us and many advances have been made in recent years in the medical professions, bringing flexibility and efficiency to surgeries and procedures.
Dentists working with a digital platform can instantly show patients areas of diagnosis and proposed treatment, share information with assistants, transfer files and have an overall more efficient and faster communication network.
Even though the digital office will constantly be improved and updated, having a foundation in place is crucial for the optimal functioning of a dental practice. The latest technology is used in many areas including software, supplies, handpieces, plant machinery and even in the colour scheme of a surgery or waiting room.
As experts in dental practice design, equipment installation and dental engineering we are always excited about new tech and advances in dental equipment and not only how this can facilitate the dental professional, but how this can also enhance the patient experience. The more a practice can offer the patient and the more comfortable they feel, there will be a greater appeal. The dental community is quick to embrace new technology and share their knowledge. It makes for great marketing content and gives the Wow factor to clients and peers alike.
In this article we will cover the benefits of the 21st century dental practice, because when technology is added, you create a more seamless environment to improve comfort for the patient and productivity for the staff. The patients of today are exposed to new tech nearly every day within their lives and the expectation is there for advances to be made in the services they receive.
The Future of Dentistry
Technology is advancing at an exponential rate, with more funding available and global collaboration. As a result of these innovations, dental professionals will continue to enhance the patient experience. Some of the biggest game-changers include:
While time-saving technology can have many benefits on the business side, it can also improve patient satisfaction with less invasive procedures, less chair time, fewer and shorter appointments. With faster dental processes, dentists can accommodate patients with time constraints or a busy schedule.
Prior to CAD/CAM, procedures such as crowns would require patients to schedule a second or multiple visits and endure impressions. This technology has enabled same-day completion and more precision.
Broadcast New Tech
What a great way to engage your social media followers and clients. Make a big deal out of your new acquisition; creating new content and customer satisfaction by marketing the new service to patients and introduce them to this fantastic innovation that makes treatments safer and more comfortable with less chair time and fewer appointments.
Making Patient Comfort a Priority
Experience-enhancing technology has been adopted in many dental practices, including TV glasses, mp3 players, form-fitting neck pillows and even electrotherapy and neuroacoustic stimulation. And why not, if they make an anxious patient relax they will return for regular check-ups.
Dental chairs and treatment centres are an important consideration. Take a look at Ancar, whose designs contain compact, natural shapes and homogenous appearance for patient comfort and well-being. And Heka Dental, who have created a treatment centre combining aesthetics with functionality for relaxing the patient and giving the dentist an ideal working environment.
Chairs with Easy-Access for elderly or disabled people give comfort to particular patients and also make procedures where the frontal view of the face is required much easier for the dentist. The Ancar S7 is designed for a variety of patients with its folding legrest to 90 degrees, suitability to tall size patients and a large capacity patient load: Max 165Kg.
Alternatively, the Belmont 050/055 Clair Dental Chair enables the most pleasant consultation position possible. The folding and extending leg-rest enables the easiest patient entry / exit via the front or either side of the chair. Chair movements are synchronised and smooth, eliminating the anxiety and insecurity that is common among patients. Lumbar support and the extending footrest provide sheer comfort for the patient as the chair changes position.
Imaging / Scanning
Digital CT imaging or computed tomography systems allows for quick, comfortable, and effective dental imaging for the most precise dental health diagnosis possible. Benefits for the patient are:
CBCT or Cone-Beam computed tomography is suited for imaging the craniofacial area. The Vatech PaX-i3D Smart gives you not just a CT image but also an Auto Pano image. This means, patients who require both images do not need to undergo two X-ray scans.
Intraoral portable X-ray systems provide high-resolution and detailed X-ray images along with the sophisticated intraoral X-ray technology for reliable diagnosis and a faster and easier workflow, but more importantly for the patient, it means they can remain seated in the dental chair and not move from room to room. See our Vatech EzRay Air Hand Held Intraoral X-ray system for more details.
Digital X-ray systems or radiographs are also re-assuring as they typically reduce radiation exposure by about 75% of conventional film.
Patients can see the composition of their smile with an intraoral camera and chair-side monitor. It is so much easier for the patient to understand what is being detailed and doctors can give a tour, tooth by tooth. X-rays and scans provide valuable information, although they don’t show every aspect of the teeth and mouth. With an Intraoral camera you will see incredible detail and discover oral problems early on. This will enable the dentist to provide a treatment that is less invasive and more cost effective.
Our High Speed Digital Wireless Intra Oral Camera by Vatech provides clear live images and an angled handpiece design. It also includes EasyDent software for powerful communication with the patient.
The ultimate in patient ‘Wow Factor’ is the ability to control equipment with an iPad. And that is exactly what Bien-Air’s latest implantology and surgery system can do. With the iChiropro, everything is designed for simple, intuitive use and the MX-I LED micromotor redefines ergonomics and ease of use.
Or the iOptima, which is perfect for all your restorative and endodontic procedures. Fitted with the world's best brushless sensorless micromotor and an Apple iPod interface.
Even a high-speed cutting bur can make all the difference. The new TriHawk Talon starts fast and finishes fast. With one gentle touch and it starts cutting; therefore, no discomfort or pressure on the patients’ teeth. Sharp blades on the top and sides cuts vertically and horizontally making procedures faster and more efficient.
Another consideration to relieve patient anxieties are quiet operation air-compressors. MGF have a wide range of Dental Air Compressors from the 57dB, 1-2 chair machine with an Acoustic Hood to the super-silenced Acoustic Cabinet, which provides an optimal noise reduction to 50dB, which is a considerable decrease from other machines which can produce up to 70 dB. For more information read our Comprehensive Dental Air Compressor Guide.
Making an Investment
Taking a course on new equipment and asking for demonstrations is a great way of realising the potential and justifying the need of equipment and process upgrades. Learn as much as you can about a product or device and join a group or forum to discover the experiences of others.
An excellent course we attended recently named “CBCT in everyday practice” by Dr Diyari Abdah covers the importance of incorporating CT data into treatment planning and aiding diagnostics for better results and more predictable outcomes.
This was a free CPD course hosted by Croydon Dental Semimars, whom we are a sponsor of. Keep up to date with their regular seminars here.
Managing the Project
Deciding on how to integrate new equipment investments into your practice can be complicated and time-consuming. We provide a full service from advice, design, installation and maintenance. If a large piece of equipment is required, like a CBCT scanner or treatment centre, then our project management team will assist in every aspect of your acquisition.
Dental equipment can generally last 10-15 years if properly utilized and maintained, so it is recommended to set-up a service schedule for all maintenance and certification intervals. We can contact you when required to book work in at your convenience giving you peace of mind that your machinery will remain compliant and in safe working order.
If you are wondering when you should make each equipment purchase, and how to stay current with evolving technologies without breaking your budget, then we have experience and options in this area as well.
We provide finance options for equipment purchases through our partner Braemar Finance, who offer tailor-made tax efficient solutions from a range of specialist dental loans.
We also offer rental packages as an alternative to purchase. This gives you full peace of mind knowing that all servicing and maintenance costs are covered.
Keep up-to-date with our promotions, special prices and clearances. We currently have promotions on the Vatech EzRay Air and Vatech PaX-i, Heka Dental chairs and Ancar Treatment Centres.
Tax Benefits of Equipment Purchases
The Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) which allows a 100% tax write off on equipment costs has been subject to many changes and proposed changes in recent years.
The AIA ceiling increased to £500,000 from April 2014 to 31 December 2015. At the time of the increase the limit was set to reduce to £25,000 from 1 January 2016. However, the 2015 Summer Budget then introduced a permanent ceiling of £200,000!
The new annual limit of £200,000 came into force on 1 January 2016 and will allow scope for full tax relief on most practice equipment purchases.
For further information please refer to HMRC's website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/annual-...
Disclaimer: Please note, this is not professional tax advice, please speak to your tax adviser or accountant.
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Dental Equipment Maintenance
Our Service Department know how serious it is when breakdowns reduce your capability, or even close your surgery completely. We have an experienced team of engineers available to repair serious malfunctions to equipment, although preventative annual servicing will keep your equipment running smoothly and minimise down-time. We offer certification and testing for pressure vessels and x-rays as well as service reports for your CQC compliance file.
Service Department Staff
John Boyt – Service Manager
Ray Watts – Service Engineer
Timothy Boyt – Installations Manager