The rise of new dental technology and software has rapidly transformed the field of dentistry, making it easier than ever—in terms of both workflow and administration—to examine, diagnose, and treat patients, no matter their specific oral health concerns.
The sun has set on the days of analog impressions and traditional dental workflows. And the oft- uncomfortable, inaccurate, and time-consuming processes have been replaced by superior digital dental technologies and procedures.
But what does the dental treatment plan of the digital era look like? Here’s what you need to know about the modern dental treatment plan.
The Three Types of Dental Patients
While each patient is unique, broadly speaking, dental clinics will regularly see and treat one of three types of patients. The type of patient will often dictate the specifics of what their treatment plan looks like.
#1 The Problem-Oriented (Reactive) Patient
A surprisingly large percentage of dental patients fall into the problem-oriented category. These are the patients that do not see the dentist until they’re dealing with an acute oral issue, such as:
- Traumatic injuries – Such as an avulsed tooth, fractured jaw, occlusal trauma, or displaced tooth.
- Pain associated with individual teeth – Such as a fractured tooth or restoration, cracked tooth, post-tooth extraction pain, pain after restoration, or endodontic therapy.
- Periodontal and soft tissue pain – Such as acute periodontitis, pain after periodontal therapy, periodontal lesion, or acute gingivitis.
For patients in this state, all they want is for the pain to go away. Their tooth issue may have kept them up all night. Or, it could have been a growing concern as the pain increased over time. No matter, they require immediate relief and are dependent on their dentist to provide that urgent dental care.
In many cases, the “must-fix-it” patient may only see the dentist when it’s absolutely necessary.
Regardless of the level of pain, digital dental treatment for this type of patient focuses on alleviating the discomfort as quickly as possible. As a result, most of these issues will typically involve same-day treatment, especially for traumatic injuries.
Whether it’s a broken tooth, pulp necrosis, or an abscessed tooth, digital technologies can both accelerate the treatment lifecycle while making the patient less uncomfortable throughout.
But more on that later.
#2 The Proactive Patient
The second type of patient either doesn’t (to their knowledge) have a pending oral health issue or has an issue that the dentist seeks to address, but doesn’t require immediate attention.
The proactive patient keeps their appointments, practices good oral hygiene, and completes their treatments. For this type of patient, digital dentistry improves the treatment process, minimizing the total number of necessary visits and the time they spend in the chair.
#3 The Discretionary Patient
The final type of patient typically doesn’t have a significant oral health problem, but rather, they want to improve the aesthetics of their smile, whether that’s via dentures, veneers, or tooth whitening.
Digital dentistry has done wonders to speed up these processes while reducing the total sticker price of the procedures. And when that happens, when dental treatments are more affordable, less painful, and easier to perform, dental practices see a greater case acceptance as a larger share of their proactive patients become willing to also slide into the discretionary patient category.
What Does a Digital Treatment Plan Look Like?
So, how exactly does a digital treatment plan create a better patient experience for every type of patient?
Three primary technologies facilitate the digital dental treatment plan.
#1 The Intraoral Scanner
Intraoral scanners represent the forefront of the digital dental revolution and the first stage of the dental treatment process. These digital devices have completely changed the traditional process for a typical dental workflow like a tooth replacement, zirconia crown, or denture fabrication.
Equipped with an intraoral scanner, dentists and dental hygienists can rapidly scan a patient’s mouth. The device automatically registers the size and shape of each tooth and then uses that data to form a perfect 360° image of the patient’s intraoral cavity.
Intraoral scanners make it possible to capture an ideal dental impression in a fraction of the time—and without all of the unpleasantness associated with the analog process. This creates several benefits, including:
- More accurate impressions
- Less money spent on one-off supplies
- Improved patient experience
- Less patient chair time
- Improved case acceptance since patients can visualize the dental procedure
With technologies such as Dandy’s intraoral scanner, what used to take several weeks and multiple appointments can now be done in the space of two appointments—talk about how to improve the patient experience.
#2 CAD/CAM Technology
The second stage of the digital dental treatment procedure involves computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology. This plays a key role in the digital dental lab process, making it possible for dentists to fabricate complex and accurate restorations quickly and efficiently.
Once the data from the intraoral scanner enters the system, the CAD/CAM technology uses the 3D image to design a final restoration. The lab team receives the digital impression instantly and then makes the necessary adjustments to ensure proper spacing and alignment.
#3 3D Printing Technology
From there, a milling machine can shape the restoration out of a single ceramic block. The restoration will then be digitally color-matched and stained or glazed for a natural final finish.
In the past, custom dental work relied heavily on manual-based, trial-and-error methodologies. But 3D digital printing technology has automated the customization process, making it more efficient and producing a higher quality end-product—all at a lower cost.
Dandy Digital Dental Treatment
No matter the patient, no matter their specific oral health issue, these digital advancements in dentistry are rapidly changing how dental clinics treat their patients. With digital dentistry, dental professionals don’t have to send patients to specialists, nor do they need to waste precious chair time on time-consuming manual activities, such as analog impressions.
That’s where Dandy makes the difference. With our intraoral scanner and CAD/CAM two-appointment dental process, we can streamline all of your dental office’s typical workflows. What used to take months can now be done in a matter of days. When you’re thinking about how to attract patients to your dental practice, digital dental treatment is the solution clinics need to drive patient satisfaction, increase case acceptance, and improve clinical outcomes.
If you’re ready to streamline your dental treatment process, contact us today to get started.
Elsevier. Diagnosis and Treatment Planning in Dentistry. https://www.elsevier.com/books/diagnosis-and-treatment-planning-in-dentistry/9780323287302
BMC Oral Health. Intraoral Scanners In Dentistry: a Review of the Current Literature. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5727697/