‘A big change and a big difference’ – Dr Manrina Rhode on investing in an intraoral scanner

Having practised for more than 20 years, Dr Manrina Rhode had not considered investing in a scanner. Now a proud owner of an iTero, she talks us through why it is so important to embrace new technology and the improvements it has brought to her practice.

My name is Dr Manrina Rhode. I’m an aesthetic dental surgeon and principal dentist here at DRMR Clinic. I’ve had my iTero scanner for about two and a half months now. It has completely changed the way I work in so many different ways.

I can’t believe that I have been practising dentistry for 20 years without it. We do all our whitening scans, so when patients come in, if they want whitening trays, we’ll scan their mouth and click a few buttons. The scan is sent to the lab and nothing else is needed.

It’s amazing. We use the same for our retainers and for Invisalign treatments as well.

We scan every patient that comes in and we get to show patients this 3D image of their mouth, which they absolutely love.

They feel like we’re using cutting edge technology, which of course we are. It really allows us to educate our patients better on what’s happening in their mouth.

What changes have you made to your practice workflow since introducing the iTero scanner?

Everything’s changed about the way we work since getting our iTero scanner.

Every patient that comes into clinic gets a scan. They not only realise how we’re investing in them and providing the best treatments, but we also get to really clearly show them what’s happening in their mouth and explain our treatment plan.

We also scan patients six months or a year later so that we can superimpose the scans on top of each other and see if their recessions progressed, if their wear has progressed, for example.

We can keep an eye on any issues that they have and make sure we’re addressing them. But we can also show the patient how important it is for them to address the problems and do something about it.

I also like that it’s so much more paper free and there’s not as much worrying about what time the lab is coming and when it is collected, for example. It’s really neatened up our processes and workflow.

Who is using the iTero scanner in the practice and for what procedures?

We want as many people in the clinic using the scanner as possible. My nurse is also trained in using it so that she can scan my patients while I’m writing notes or uploading photographs. Our treatment coordinator is trained in using it so that she can scan people when she’s doing free initial consultations for them, or even pre consultations coming in to see me.

Our practice manager is trained in using it in case we need someone to step in and do a quick scan.

We have one scanner at the moment but I think we’re going to have to buy another one soon.

What changes to the patient journey have you implemented since introducing the iTero scanner?

Our patient journey is super important to us. It’s something that I lecture about and I think it is a fundamental part of every clinic.

We’ve made big changes to our patient journey since getting the scanner.

Every patient gets a scan of their mouth as part of their appointment. We’re still working on where exactly it’s included in our patient journey, but every patient gets scanned. We’re using trial and error to see which works best for each patient.

What are patients saying about the scanner and their experience of it?

One of my favourite things about scanning patients is I know what their reaction is going to be.

Every single one of them is amazed – they don’t really know what it is I’m about to do when I say: ‘Let’s scan your mouth.’ They trust the process.

I start scanning, and then maybe they’ll start glancing over–  you see their eyes open wider. Once I finish the arch, then we both look over together and I show them their mouth. Without fail, every single one of them says: ‘Wow, that’s amazing. What is this amazing technology?’ And they want to talk about it!

I know they’re going to go home and tell their friends and family about it too. It’s been a really cool addition to our clinic.

What changes to the way you practise have you initiated already?

The addition of my intraoral scanner is one of the biggest changes I’ve made in the way I practise in the last 20 years.

It’s made a really big difference. For example, we scan every patient when they come in for a consultation and we’re able to give a visual aid to showcase the treatment that we’re proposing.

I allocated one room to be an onsite lab specifically for whitening trays and retainers because we do so much whitening. But now we’ve decided that we don’t need that as we are able to scan the patient, email that over to the lab and have it back within a couple of days.

It’s completely changed the way we work.

It’s a really great learning tool – I’m really, really enjoying using my iTero.

What features of the iTero scanner do you believe will be most valuable to your practice?

It’s really great for patient education to be able to show them what I’m talking about as opposed to trying to explain. An X-ray can be quite confusing but the scanner provides a view that patients can relate to.

I think patient education is really valuable and I think the ‘wow’ factor is really valuable. I think the patients love that we’re using the latest technology – they can see that we really care about them.

What, if anything, has surprised you about the iTero scanner?

I want to say everything. I had no idea about scanning. Now, I don’t know how I got through 20 years of my career not knowing anything about scanning.

I think it was because the main treatment that I do is porcelain veneers. I kept being told along the way that scanners weren’t at a stage yet that they were suitable to be used for minimally invasive treatments, such as minimal prep veneers.

It didn’t seem relevant to my practice, even though a fair percentage of my patients will have clear aligner treatment before they have their porcelain veneers. But because my focus was veneers, I didn’t think about investing in a scanner to help with that process.

I had no idea how useful it could be as a tool until I started using it. Now, I can’t really imagine practising without one.

What are your favourite iTero scanner features?

Obviously there’s so much more to the scanner than just scanning the mouth. It’s also got all these cool features that you can play with.

It’s got a time lapse feature, which I had no idea about until I learned recently and was just blown away that I could provide that much value for my patient.

I was also made aware of another really cool feature recently where you could do a pre-scan of the mouth before you restore. You could send that to the lab so they can create your new crown with the same occlusion as, as the mouth had previously that was working for the patient.

Some dentists do a pre-scan and when they scan after they’ve prepped a crown, for example, then you can look at those two scans together and see how much space there is between the occlusion.

What does it mean to be a digital dental practice?

For me, going digital is embracing the evolution of dentistry.

It’s so much easier to just stay where you are doing the things that you know how to do well.

It’s challenging and it’s scary to move on and try to embrace technology. But we have to and that’s been a real theme of mine in this last year – embracing technology.

I’ve been a dentist for 20 years and have been taking conventional impressions for all that time. But I’ve brought in all these new changes and I’m moving forwards. It’s been challenging and it’s been scary, but it’s been exhilarating and it’s been amazing.

How would you feel if your iTero scanner was taken away and you had to return to your old ways of working?

I’d not be happy! I don’t want to go back to working the conventional way – I don’t even like having to take a conventional impression now!

I always want to make sure the scanner is available because I want to scan the patient. I’m not going to be without it.

For more information or to request a demo of an iTero intraoral scanner, visit iTero.com.

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