The dental industry wants to improve the dental patient experience, and technological advances are making that possible.
Dentists are challenged like few others when it comes to the patient experience. Poking your teeth with a sharp instrument or raising a drill toward your mouth doesn’t shout, “this is going to be good!”
As vital to a healthy life as they are, they perpetually fight a negative stigma. The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics says only 60 percent of U.S. adults visit the dentist yearly. Cost is often the reason, but fear is as much to blame.
Dental Patients Are Guests Too
They have options, and they choose your practice. They are the guest. Many practices increase volume to compensate for decreasing insurance reimbursements, which can leave the patient feeling less important.
“When you spend more time with the patient, you’re more thorough, and the patient knows you care,” says Zania Cruz, a hygienist in Central Florida. She points to the early 2000s as the time she noticed the change due to industry structure and insurance coverage.
HealthTech Magazine Points to Four Recent Advances For the Dental Patient Experience
Teledentistry – Spurred by the pandemic, teledentistry uses digital technologies as a substitute for in-person visits.
Virtual Reality Provides a Show – VR is used to give dental patients a distraction from pain and anxiety, but it can’t displace reality.
Artificial Intelligence Aids in Diagnostics – AI algorithms evaluate tooth decay and abnormalities, which help determine a diagnosis.
3D Printing Cost Savings – 3D printing is a cost-effective alternative that enables dentists to create dental splints, as well as models of the jaw, to project the outcome of procedures.
Just Wake Me When It’s Over
Sedation dentistry is trending to improve the patient experience. Beyond nitrous oxide, new methods include oral conscious sedation. It utilizes medication, typically a form of valium in pill form. The patient becomes drowsy and may sleep.
IV sedation dentistry is the next level up. The dosage is adjustable, and the patient falls asleep without memory of the procedure. General anesthesia is also available for children or patients with special needs or severe anxiety.
The Dental Patient Experience Can Mean a Lifetime of Smiles
Although not a technology, subscription-based dentistry is opening doors for patients who cannot afford dental care. Private practices can create their package and offer services at a monthly or annual rate. It provides uninsured and insured patients with a simpler and more affordable option.
You are the guest at the dentist, although it behooves you to be a good one. When so many options exist for all industries, the guest experience can make the difference between a one-time visit and a lifetime customer.