The decision to purchase an intraoral scanner and integrate it into your practice is a significant one. As with any piece of sophisticated technology, it is normal to experience a mix of excitement and apprehension, especially if you are still pondering the question: "Now what?" Luckily, the answer is simple: “Use it!”
This article aims to guide you through the process of efficiently incorporating your new intraoral scanner into daily practice, ensuring it becomes an indispensable tool for improving patient care and diversifying your service offerings.
1. Embrace the Learning Curve of an Intraoral Scanner Purchase
First, remember that every new tool comes with a learning curve. There will be a period of adjustment and experimentation as you become acquainted with the scanner's operation, nuances, and software. Give yourself and your team the time and permission to learn and make mistakes. This learning phase is crucial for mastering technology and reaping its full benefits. Being able to push through and master a new technology is what sets tech-savvy practitioners apart.
2. Comprehensive Training
Although most intraoral scanners are designed for intuitive use, understanding their full range of capabilities often requires comprehensive training. This training usually comes from the manufacturer or distributor, consisting of tutorials, user manuals, and sometimes hands-on training. Don’t neglect these resources – especially at the beginning. Use them to become proficient with the device and its associated software.
3. Implement in Phases
Incorporating modern technology into your practice does not have to be an overnight transformation. Instead, consider integrating your intraoral scanner in phases. Begin by using it for cases where you feel most comfortable, and gradually extend its usage as you gain confidence. This phased approach can help mitigate the impact of the learning curve on your practice's efficiency.
4. Team Involvement
Your dental team will be instrumental in the successful integration of the intraoral scanner. Encourage their active involvement in the learning and implementation process. They can often help troubleshoot, assist in patient education, and even discover innovative ways to use the scanner. I have found personally that my team, once acclimated, would NEVER move back to traditional impressions.
5. Enhance Patient Communication
One of the key benefits of an intraoral scanner is its ability to enhance patient communication. The clear, detailed images allow patients to visualize their oral conditions and understand the need for proposed treatments. Use this as an opportunity to improve patient education and engagement in real time. Not to mention, I have yet to encounter a patient who would prefer a traditional impression over a digital scan!
6. Explore New Horizons
Once you are comfortable with the intraoral scanner's fundamental uses, don't stop there. Explore the wider range of applications the technology offers. One such exciting area is orthodontics. If you have been considering the addition of orthodontic services to your practice, your intraoral scanner can be a significant asset. In our practice, we have been not only alginate free for the past 8 years, but we have also been able to open a 3D printing lab that allows us to print our own models for in-house aligner fabrication.
If you are unsure about venturing into orthodontics, consider attending workshops or seminars specifically designed for general dentists. Our hands-on orthodontic workshop, for example, can provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to confidently introduce orthodontics into your practice.
7. Continuous Improvement
As with any aspect of dentistry, the key to success is continuous learning and improvement. Keep up to date with updates and advancements related to your scanner, and always look for ways to enhance your proficiency and efficiency.
Purchasing an intraoral scanner is a significant step towards modernizing your practice and expanding your treatment options. The journey from purchase to daily use can be challenging, but with patience, training, and an open mind, your scanner can become an invaluable tool that propels your practice to new heights. So, embrace the journey and explore the possibilities. Your scanner is not just a tool; it's your partner in providing superior patient care. I couldn’t imagine our practice without it!
Dr. Tyler Rathburn is a resident faculty member of Spear Education and CDOCS.