Expert Interview Series: Pac-Dent Senior Executive of Pac-Dent.com on 2017's Dental Tech Trends
Pac-Dent Senior Executive, the Executive Vice President of Pac-Dent, was interviewed about dental tech trends by Lou Donato from Watkin Dental Associates.
1. Pac-Dent has been providing high-quality, innovative dental products since 1992. First of all, what inspired you to start Pac-Dent 25 years ago? What are some ways you’ve fulfilled your initial vision, in that time
Pac-Dent was originally founded to provide dental products that are better, faster and more economical to the practitioner and patients. Over the years, we have fulfilled this vision by innovating and creating our own intellectual properties, and continuously improving and expanding our product lines.
2. Pac-Dent is always evolving, in line with your customer’s needs and with new technology hitting the markets. What are some of the most consistent dental needs for your customers over the past few years?
We started in infection control and preventive, and expanded to endodontics, restorations, and whitening.
3. Technology is widely influencing every single industry, including dental practices. One trend that is predicted to grow in 2017 is the rise of digital imaging, using CAD/CAM technology. With more than 20% of offices using digital impression technology, why is this trend so influential, and do you think it will continue to spread?
Yes, all data indicate the continuous growth of digital impression, although the growth has been slow. We anticipate that the VPS/Polyether impression technologies will continue to be used for at least 10 to 15 more years. Data security is another technological trend that is predicted to become more important in 2017, following high-profile data breaches from huge companies like Target. First off, what are some ways that customer’s information can be made more secure, and why is that important? For practices, what are some ways they can let their customers know their information is secure?
The dental service providers should use encryption for all the data that goes through their websites (SSL), and set up automatic periodic scans. The web portal or platform should be built on more robust technical foundations, such as Drupal or Joomla, instead of WordPress.
One way to let the customer know their information is secure is to prominently display encryption icons and SSL certificates whenever data is being collected or transferred.
4. Keeping in contact with patients is another of 2017’s dental tech trends that will continue to rise. What are some different ways that increased communication between dentists and patients can help people keep track of their appointments and find deals? What are some of the benefits of having reminders beamed directly to your pocket or purse?
A trend that has been continuously gaining popularity is utilizing automated appointment reminders, email campaigns, and reputation management to always stay on top of patients’ minds. Services like DemandForce, Constant Contact, InfusionSoft and Salesforce are available for the practices that are willing to make the move.
The biggest benefit is to reduce the number of no shows while enabling practices to do parallel marketing at the same time, the higher level of engagement also elicit higher patient loyalty and possibly better online reviews.
5. Dental implants are becoming increasingly available, with prices dropping all the time. What are some reasons implants are gaining so much popularity? How can a patient decide if implants are right for them?
Dental implants are popular because they last longer and are more comfortable (after healing) and natural-looking than dentures or bridges. Once any healing from having a dental implant is finished, the implant looks, feels and can be treated like a natural tooth.
A patient needs to decide between paying more up front for a permanent solution, or continuously pay for other solutions over time. Above all, the patient should look into minimally invasive procedures first before considering any implants.
6. Lasers are becoming more prevalent, even in smaller practices, and not just for tissue removal. What are some of the implications of more widespread laser usage in the dental industry? What are some other things lasers can be used for, other than dental surgery?
Since lasers cause less bleeding and promote faster healing, there really isn’t much downside of using a laser. With the right power level, lasers can also be used for pain management and teeth whitening.
7. 3D Imaging has some exciting possibilities for dentistry, including planning for implants. What are some other possible uses for 3D imaging? Do you think this is a fad, or will this trend continue to grow?
Other than planning for implants, 3D dental imaging is also used for diagnosis. This is definitely not a fad and is here to stay for a long time. Being able to see the mouth in three dimensions allows the dentist to better plan and more effectively formulate an approach to treat dental conditions.
8. With more dental practices balancing more data than ever, as well as working with multiple practitioners, cloud storage is becoming more and more important. How can a patient know if a practice’s cloud storage is secure, and why does that matter?
A patient should make sure that the Cloud storage is hosted on a reputable company’s servers (such as Amazon Cloud) and havs been in the business for a number of years. Any Cloud storage can still be hacked, such as the well-publicized attack on Apple’s iCloud, so it’s crucially important to also have local data backups in case of outage or cyber attacks.
9. The Internet Of Things continues to be influential, even if tech forecasters are already calling for its decline. Dentistry is incorporating IoT, as well, like with the LM Dental Tracking System, which records, tracks, and verifies usage of different dental products. What are some potential uses this data and insights can yield, for patients and dentists alike? Will this trend continue to spread, do you think?
The data collected by Dental Tracking Systems provides a way to accurately track the instruments and supplies in order to contain costs and manage the sterilization process. It does effectively improve inventory management, increase patient safety by making sure every instrument is sterilized properly, reduce instrument loss and misuse, but ultimately, it comes down to the user willing to put in the time and effort to utilize it to its full potential, which has to be a decision made from top down. This may be still at a very novel stage and caters to only a niche market at this time.