Making digital suit you – Neil Photay

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  Posted by: The Probe      6th November 2017

There are many tasks in our everyday lives that have been affected by digital technologies. The books we once read on holiday have been replaced by the more efficient e-book on a tablet or kindle. The video cassette tapes we once treasured have evolved multiple times in just one generation, with DVDs and Blu-ray discs already somewhat out of fashion with the widespread implementation of live-streaming or programmes like Netflix and NowTV. You no longer see drivers struggling with large road maps when navigating their way through town, with a Sat Nav and smartphone GPS providing a much easier solution.

On a larger scale, digital technologies and specialised algorithms make processes safer, such as those used in aviation and factory manufacturing. Computer-aided design of products allows for greater accuracy and detail, reducing the risk of error for consistently higher quality of items. Digital models are used to calculate risk in the insurance industry, electronic media has replaced some traditional newspapers and magazines, and online universities allow people to study from their own homes while working full-time.

In business, the vast majority of processes have been digitalised as well. Everything from invoices to management plans, staff training, meetings and information sharing with colleagues can now be conducted electronically, enhancing efficiency and convenience while also reducing costs. Communication in particular is quicker, easier and altogether better, with several online platforms facilitating instant interaction with people anywhere in the world.

While dentistry may have taken up digital solutions a little slower than other industries, the modern profession relies heavily on them today. Most dental practices utilise practice management software to streamline and improve the day-to-day running of the business. Digital imaging systems have revolutionised the field of diagnostics, while also providing a previously impossible level of detail for accurate treatment planning. Dentists can now visualise each patient’s specific anatomy and plan treatment down to the finest detail before beginning surgery, ensuring more predictable, safe and effective procedures with outstanding results.

Communication is significantly enhanced – both with patients and colleagues. Digital treatment plans often provide a realistic idea of the final outcome, enabling dental professionals to better manage patient expectations. This also makes patients more informed for enhanced consent and encourages them to take an active role in their treatment.

When it comes to collaboration with other professionals, digital scans can be transferred to either referring dentists or the laboratory team with ease. At the click of a button, entire patient files, lab prescriptions, scans, photographs, impressions and notes can be shared, ensuring everyone has all the information they need to perform their tasks to the best of their abilities. Some systems offer the added advantage of exceptional speed, which means the dentist and referring professional or technician can discuss the case together within minutes of an impression being taken for optimal collaboration from the very beginning.

As with anything, there are a few limitations of digital dentistry that we all need to be mindful of. Firstly, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest in the profession, as there is a seemingly never-ending flow of innovations coming to the market. There is also an often substantial initial investment required to purchase a new piece of equipment or software, and you’ll need adequate space available for any bulky items. There is also a learning curve with any new technology, as all members of the team become familiar with its capabilities and integrate it within their daily routine.

Despite these challenges, the advantages of digital solutions will typically outweigh the drawbacks within a short space of time. What’s more, they can be adopted in a quantity that suits the individual practice – you can either go completely digital or you can use technologies that complement some of the traditional techniques you might wish to maintain.

Whatever you decide, it’s important to make sure that the lab you work with can continue to cater for your needs as they change. For example, there’s no point investing in digital impression scanners only to discover that your dental laboratory does not use compatible software to review and manipulate the image files you send. At CosTech Dental Laboratory, we are proud to work in whatever way you prefer. A family-run, full service lab, we offer everything from crown and bridge to prosthetics, orthodontics and implants, with free collection and delivery in our own fleet of vehicles within allocated areas.

There is a lot in the profession today about the ‘digital revolution’. For the most part, it is not something of the future, but something we are living right now. It also doesn’t have to be as daunting as you might think, as you have the ability to pick and choose what you wish to implement in order to truly maximise on the benefits available.

For more information about CosTech Dental Laboratory, visit www.costech.co.uk or call 01474 320076


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