Moving from the molecular world of paper through the first four generations of computer technology in the dental practice has been an interesting evolution.
Information technology innovations in dentistry over the past two decades have been significant. Let’s look at just a few of the technological advances that have enhanced your services.
In the mid-70’s, the first generation of computer technology in dentistry was offered by pegboard system companies using time-share batch systems to handle billing, and in some cases recall.
A few years later, second generation systems were ushered in, utilizing proprietary hardware and operating systems that added in-house control and expanded functionality including insurance management and some treatment planning. By 1982, third generation systems were available and featured a character-based operating system running on IBM compatible personal computers. Nearly a decade later, fourth generation peer-to-peer or a dedicated PC network running the graphical interface of the Apple OS and Microsoft Windows™ arrived.
The age-old cliché “a picture is worth a thousand words” is so true in dentistry. Patients typically don’t accept what they don’t understand and are most often overwhelmed with dental jargon. The power of a simple drawing is greatly magnified and personalized with a digital photograph. You have an instant image that can be saved and duplicated again and again. Such images stored with well-designed image management software capable of storing intra-oral and extra-oral images as well as x-ray images provide instant access to vital patient information.
Digital radiography has become the de-facto standard. You are no longer hindered by the wait times of film, dip tanks, and automatic processors, to say nothing of the elimination of chemicals and processor maintenance. Instant images are now at your disposal with digital radiography. As the diagnostic quality of digital images equals or exceeds traditional film, this technology has eliminated a major obstacle to the “paperless” dental record. Digital radiography also allows a reduction of x-ray exposure by as much as 90%. We will continue to see significant integration and evolution of this technology over the next several years. The most exciting advance is the capability of CBCT (Cone Beam Computed Tomography) in dental diagnosis and planning.
The arrival of digital multimedia education brought us light years beyond the drawing on the bracket table. With digital education packages like CAESY and the Dentistry Channel, you had powerful patient education at your fingertips. Developed to deliver the information at the layperson level and not Dentistry 101, you could elevate understanding in a shorter timeframe.
Now with the addition of Consult-PRO, Guru, Orasphere, DDS GP and others you have many options from which to choose.
Next up, this series looks at Information Technologies on the horizon. Stay tuned.