The 5 best technologies to help your dental practice get back to normal activity in COVID times
While the Covid-19 Pandemic has affected people globally, the dental industry has been significantly impacted because of it’s high risk nature and the potential to spread the virus.
In the early phase of the pandemic, European health professionals advised the postponement of all routine and elective dental care to eliminate or “flatten the curve” of Covid-19 infections. Now that many countries have a lower rate of Covid-19, dental practices are working hard to get back to routine patient care. The European Commission has urged dental practices to provide adequate PPE for front line healthcare professionals, including dentists, to help prevent the spread of the virus.
The dental industry is certainly no stranger to change. While dental practices already use “universal precautions,” the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way they operate. This change is reminiscent of when HIV was a major concern in dentistry during the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Dental professionals are now investing in additional personal protection equipment, office filtration systems, and sterilization devices. Some of the newest technologies are supporting dental teams to work in a safe and comfortable environment as practices navigate new infection control protocols and guidelines.
New dental technologies are constantly emerging to help improve patient care and simplify administrative duties. There are 5 new “must” technologies dental practices need to implement to help resume patient care:
1. Advanced patient communication tools
During the Covid-19 pandemic, some practices are working with a skeleton staff. Automated communication software can be extremely beneficial as they essentially create “another staff member.” It can also be used to remind patients of new Covid-19 protocols and how the practice is handling changes.
FollowApp.Care offers a communication technology to help dental practices maintain contact with patients before and after their appointments. Rather than waiting for emergencies to occur or waiting for a six-month recall visit, FollowApp.Care Essentials actively and automatically follows every patient to ensure they have no issues before or after their dental visit. Patients feel better cared for and this increases the satisfaction rate and number of positive online reviews 2 to 3 times.
Following the Covid 19 outbreak, FollowApp.Care has also launched a Covid 19 patient pre-screening automated technology that alerts practice staff when a patient at risk is identified.
Patient communication software also provides online forms which streamline the new patient process and help follow-up with patients after their appointments to provide feedback about their visit.
Teledentistry has become a useful tool for consultations and assessing care, where a dentist could determine if an in-office visit is needed or the patient could be triaged through video conference and possibly offered a prescription over the phone. The benefit of utilizing a tele dentistry platform is that it limits the amount of patients in the practice, reduces unnecessary visits and decreases exposure of patients.
3. Intraoral and extraoral suction
Intraoral and extraoral aerosol suction equipment are becoming increasingly popular among dental professionals because of the transmission of potentially hazardous dental aerosols. Intraoral equipment like Isolite and ReLeaf offer patient comfort while improving productivity and decreasing risk of exposure. Many offices that already practiced using this technology have taken advantage of it during the pandemic. Other offices are now investing in this equipment long-term to help maintain infection control guidelines.
Extraoral dental suction systems or aerosol vacuums are one of the most effective ways to help minimize dental aerosols in an operatory. While it is used as an adjunct to high velocity air evacuation (HVE) and intraoral suction devices, extra oral suction equipment works by filtrating the air and removing dental aerosols up to a much greater magnitude using medical grade filters.
4. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Dental professionals are already accustomed to wearing PPE, but during the Covid-19 pandemic, dentists and staff have had to adapt to a higher level of protection for themselves and patients. While dental staff are expected to wear head coverings, disposable gowns, FFP3 or FFP2 masks, face shields, eye protection and gloves, new technology is emerging every day to help keep offices comfortable and safe.
5. Digital dental technology
Computerised treatment plans, digital impressions and digital radiographs are tools that improve patient care and outcomes. Technology like Invisalign ClinChek gives the patient a custom representation of what their final outcome will look like. Digital impressions help avoid traditional tray impressions that are uncomfortable for the patient, time consuming and costly. Lastly, digital radiographs are not only safer for patients, but prevent issues with storage and contamination. With the abundance of digital technology available in dental offices, they help improve operational efficiency, but also create a safe and contactless system for patients.
While dental practice’s are adapting quickly to new Covid-19 guidelines and screening procedures to help prevent transmission, the dental industry is one of the most prepared healthcare sectors in the world. With constant new and emerging technology in communication and infection control, we can only expect dental practices to recover and reach new production goals and provide high quality dental care.