Technology for sustainable dentistry

sustainable dentistry through technology
Dental nurse radiographer Aymie and trainee radiographer Kelly are raising the bar for patient communication.

Sustainable dentistry is of growing importance to dental professionals and patients alike – here’s how technology can improve a practice’s environmental impact.

There is a growing need for practice owners to consider sustainability in the delivery of dental care. Dentistry’s environmental impact is a concern, and any changes to everyday practice to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint are welcome.

The climate crisis can also be an influencing factor in the choices patients make in their care. This means practices should be in step with current thinking if they are to meet expectations for a greener environment.

According to the FDI World Dental Federation: ‘Improvements in oral health and wellbeing can be gained through prevention, screening and monitoring of systemic health conditions in environmentally friendly practices’. Consideration should be given to time, materials, workforce, and equipment.

Condensing treatment

One of the key elements of best practice in terms of sustainable dentistry is providing multiple procedures in one visit. This includes a greater use of high-end technologies (CAD-CAM and intra-oral scanning) to help reduce the number of appointments and transport to laboratories.

Piotr Pirga is the clinical director at Monks Brook Dental, in Newport on the Isle of Wight, where the team provides comprehensive private dental care. It is also a practice committed to ‘providing sustainable dentistry with paperless workflows and environmentally friendly products’.

One area in which this is evident is in the diagnosis process. While comfort and speed are paramount to ensuring every patient experience is seamless, providing dental OPGs and CBCT in practice means fewer journeys for patients who ordinarily might be expected to travel elsewhere for their screening.

Taking images following diagnosis saves patients time by eradicating the need for extra appointments. It also helps the clinicians to treatment-plan. Ultimately, this results in faster treatment turnaround times.

Enhanced communication

And this approach has enhanced communication with patients, too. The practice has a dedicated computer screen that aids in sharing the results of images with patients. It also doesn’t not affect the efficiency of the surgeries.

Piotr says: ‘Patients can see the issues that need treating, which gives them the confidence to trust the practice to provide them with complex treatment.

‘Having the imaging suite helps and the ability to take images and discuss the results at new patient exams is convenient. It assists treatment uptake and shows patients we provide a wealth of dental procedures. It also builds confidence in our communication with patients who are safe in the knowledge that we are sharing accurate information.’

Patients can see for themselves the issues that need treating, alongside understanding any risks of treatments. Before implant treatment, for example, patients are shown their sinus and bone profile, which empowers them to trust the team with complex treatments.

‘And as we are fully digital, it minimises the environmental impact of waste. The ability to take images immediately rather than requiring patients to travel to other sites for imaging limits travel and brings down those CO2 emissions,’ Piotr adds.

Sustainable profits

But this greener way of delivering care is offering long-term sustainability for business profits, too. In terms of profitability, as with any improvements to efficiency in practice, there are many benefits.

The investment has been a positive decision for Monks Brook Dental, resulting in a greater return on investment – with increased patient treatment uptake, the additional revenue generated from radiographic procedures, and improved efficiency.

‘Our workflow is better, too,’ Piotr adds. ‘After the patients have their imaging in our dedicated suite, the results can be discussed outside of the surgery, freeing up surgery time for other procedures. Plus, because our dental nurses are radiography trained, our clinicians can use their time more effectively.’

He believes that having trained dental nurses qualified in radiography adds another element to their efforts to meet patient expectations.

Piotr says: ‘We firmly believe in modern practice that upskilling the dental nursing team is essential for excellent patient care.

‘Our dental nurses allow plenty of time for radiographic procedures, and our patients appreciate not feeling rushed. They are often more comfortable asking questions about their treatment, too. Delegating radiographic procedures to dental nurses also allows our clinicians to focus on the treatments they prefer to do.

‘And, it helps them diagnose more quickly, benefiting everyone.’

Job satisfaction

The team appreciates that many patients feel more at ease with the dental nurses undertaking these procedures. It’s a win-win because, in turn, this gives dental nurses greater job satisfaction.

They take pride in their approach to dentistry and promote it on social media – demonstrating a commitment to sustainability. Also, an acknowledgement that dental nurses play a key role in delivery optimum care.

Like many dental practices, Monks Brook Dental is committed to providing the best possible care to its patients while supporting sustainable dentistry practices.

The practice has a VistaVox S. ‘An amazing imaging system from Dürr allowing us to provide OPGs and CBCT diagnostic imaging within the practice,’ Piotr says.

The practice added to its Dürr equipment when dental nurse Roxy won £850 of VistaScan accessories in a competition.

Seemingly then, Dürr is helping Piotr and his team achieve the long-term sustainability and he is unfaltering in his praise.

‘The equipment is great with reliable software that gives us the information we need to build good relationships with our patients and meet our need for to be a greener practice. Overall, we are very happy with the decision to invest in Dürr equipment, and would have no hesitation in recommending their equipment to others.’

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