Q: I’m confused by all the advertising I see for dentists, especially when they talk about the latest and greatest state-of-the-art technology. Does more technology equal better dental care?
I completely understand your confusion, and I’ll do my best to clear things up. Regarding your question, the short answer is: It depends. Certainly, technology has helped revolutionize dentistry in a lot of way. New materials, techniques and devices have resulted in more effective, natural and comfortable dental care.
I consider certain newer technologies to be “must have” in a modern dental practice. These include digital radiography, resin-based bonding, computerized records/practice management systems, dental implants and lasers. Some technologies take time to perfect before I would consider incorporating them into our dental practice. CEREC single-visit teeth restoration, cone beam computed tomography, digital imaging systems and Invisalign orthodontic treatment are examples of technologies that have evolved to the point where they now deliver real practical value to patients.
In some instances, dental practices may invest in a new technology because they feel it gives them a competitive edge, and they may push its use to recover their expense. In their advertising, they may even make exaggerated claims about the benefits.
The good news is, most dentists are ethical and have their patients’ best interests at heart. However, consumers need to wary about claims that seem too good to be true. I view emerging technologies with a critical eye. I study unbiased, independent, peer-reviewed data, and I ask myself these questions:
• How will the technology benefit our patients?
• Will its use result in higher quality or more comfortable care?
• Does it promote greater efficiency, ease of care or more predictable results?
• Do the benefits justify the cost?
• Can we achieve the same results with an existing technology?
• Is this something I would want for my own dental care?
It’s hard for the average person to distinguish between hype and clinical reality. At Furey Dental Group, we place a high priority on building trusting relationships with our patients. This, I believe, provides the best assurance to patients that any new technology will be used appropriately and in their best interest.