We’re just starting a new year, and it’s the time when many people reflect on their past year and commit to resolutions to make the next one better. Though many people choose to lose weight by dieting and exercising, take new adventures, start a new hobby, and some even look to improve their oral health.
Looking back on 2018, dental trends illustrated the greater use of technology to provide more cost-efficient, quicker and effective dental treatment. This was especially apparent in cosmetic and restorative dentistry. At Lincoln Dental Associates, we too like to look back over the past year at the various dental trends so that we can harness and utilize the latest, most advanced dental technology to better serve our patients.
Here is a review of some of the dental trends of 2018:
More Financing Options
While most Americans have dental insurance through their employer, a government program or through getting their own private insurance, a good portion of Americans don’t have any dental insurance. Without dental insurance, dental costs can be financially straining. As a result, patients without insurance avoid necessary, regular dental checkups and cleanings. Even when something is wrong, uninsured patients only see a dentist only when they are in extreme discomfort or when there is an emergency. Many times it is too late to treat the issue without expensive, extensive dental work.
More and more dentists have recognized the devastating effects infrequent dental office check-ups and prevention can be on a patient’s oral health. To encourage those without dental insurance to pay them a much-needed visit, many dental offices now offer flexible financing options that make their dental services affordable to their self-paying patients. Knowing that dental care is affordable, the hope is that more patients will take their oral health seriously and have their teeth and gums checked out by a dentist.
Use of Online Solutions
If your dentist office still uses paper health records, they are not alone. Dental and medical offices are notorious for being behind other industries when it comes to utilizing paperless business solutions. This mostly has to do with the high level of confidential patient information that is handled. More and more online business solutions such as cloud storage and email are becoming secure enough to satisfy the strict HIPAA regulations. In turn, more dental offices are embracing paperless online solutions. Cloud storage is not only more secure, but it gives dental staff convenient, immediate access to records while also eliminating unnecessary paper in the environment.
Online scheduling is another online solution being used more and more by dental offices. It is speculated that the days of mailed appointment reminders will soon be over as patients can schedule their appointments on their phone or computer.
Use of Digital Technology
The use of lasers, cone beams and imaging machines like CAD/CAM have been used by dentists for a few years now. While the use of this imaging technology to taking impressions of teeth isn’t new, its use has continued to grow in 2018.
The need to cut overhead costs as well as meet the demands of patients for quick acquisition of dental appliances like implants, crowns, dentures and veneers have fueled this increase of digital technologies in dentistry.
Online Marketing and Reviews
Another area where dentistry has not fully utilized until recently is in online marketing. Many dental offices are small, being staffed by one or two dentists, a few dental assistants/hygienists and a receptionist. With a small staff, they can easily get busy. Traditionally, dental offices didn’t invest in advertising as patients would just go to the nearest dentist and provide free word-of-mouth advertising and recommendations to their friends and family.
Marketing and reviews are still important for any dental practice. The only difference is that today everything is online. Patients still recommend (or complain) about a dentist to others, but they do so in the form of online reviews. Like with many other businesses, prospective, first-time patients will read online reviews about a dental office when making a decision about which dentist to go to. Additionally, the number of dental offices mean patients can shop around and even go to an office farther away if it invest more in its online marketing and online review management.
2018 saw more dentists (like us) utilize online marketing and invest more into managing their online reviews as a way to attract and maintain patients and by differing themselves from other dental offices.
3D printing has traditionally been used in dental labs to create orthodontic devices for patients. In the last few years, especially in 2018, 3D printing technology can has been utilized to build oral devises for implantology, prosthetics, general dentistry and sleep apnea. As 3D printers become more commonplace, expect to see even more 3D printing dental applications in the near future.
The higher costs of advanced dental technology and the high, steady demand for dentists have made group practices grow in popularity in 2018. Instead of one dentist owning and running his or her own practice, a small group of dentists work together in the same office, splitting the costs and profits. This option is becoming increasingly popular among recently graduated dental students who are looking for immediate employment and older, soon-to retire dentists who may desire to work part-time hours.
There were quite a few dental trends in 2018, with the vast majority of them geared towards providing a better experience for the patient. Though 2018 is winding down, there is still time for you to schedule your end-of-the-year dental check up and cleaning, utilize the remainder of your dental health insurance benefits and experience a more pleasant dental office experience. Contact us at Lincoln Dental Associates today to schedule an appointment.