Dental Column

Dental Column
Dental Sharon Boyd is a Registered Dental Hygienist practicing in general, cosmetic and pediatric office settings. Sharon has written HR and Staff Training manuals for a number of offices. She is currently a writer for several CEU providers around the globe as well as the head continuing education curriculum writer for an ADA CERP provider.

Hidden Features Inside Your Dental Equipment that You Aren't Using

Investing in state-of-the-art technology can help your office run more efficiently, improve your production, and reduce your overhead expenses. Just imagine what could happen if you used all of your equipment to the full extent of its abilities. Unfortunately, many of the tools that we use have so many features, that we often forget about them altogether or don’t know how to use the equipment to its full potential.

While many programs, software, and dental equipment offer a variety of different uses, it’s up to your dental office to take advantage of the ones that are most useful to your business. However, over time and as your staff changes, your team (and even the providers) may forget or not even know about some of the features that are sitting right under their noses.

Here are a few examples:

Voice Recognition Software for Periodontal Probing

Is the hygienist relying on an assistant, or extra time on their own, to complete new patient periodontal charting? Check to see if your practice management software has built-in voice recognition capabilities. If it does, your hygienist can work more efficiently while also educating the patient about their unique periodontal condition at the very same time. With a little bit of practice, your hygienist can work independently and more quickly.

Free Training for Your Staff

Need to get someone else up to par on your practice software? Many companies offer free training or online tools to teach your staff how to properly use your office software. This includes everything from scheduling to processing claims to looking up information on specific patients. If you need a refresher yourself, this is a great place to start.

There’s a good chance that your new employees can pick up on updated features and share them with the other staff as well. Make it an integral part of your onboarding process for new employees and a semi-annual training for existing team members.

Software Shortcuts

Do you have a patient with residual root tips or supernumerary teeth, which can be difficult (daresay seem to be impossible) to chart in your electronic system? In programs like Dentrix, you can click on “notations” and then use your mouse cursor to draw in these areas on the patient’s actual chart.

Maybe your operators have the monitor within view of the patient chair. If you’re relying on the screen to keep track of your schedule, hit Ctrl+H to hide all of your patients’ names, while still having the window pulled up. There’s no need to turn the monitor off entirely!

If you’re inputting your patients’ email addresses and cell phone numbers into your practice management software, 3rd party programs like Smile Reminder or others can use that data to communicate with your patient through text reminders, emails, and appointment confirmation alerts. Most people would prefer an online alert that they can confirm from their phone than trying to remember to check their voice mail and call the office back during business hours.

Don’t Let Your Fancy Equipment Get Dusty!

It’s not a surprise that a large number of dental offices with intraoral cameras don’t use them. They take a little bit of extra time to set up, turn on, and show the patient. But they’re worth their weight in gold. Even if it means adding 5 minutes onto each patient appointment, using an intraoral camera regularly could see your case acceptance rates skyrocket. Having visible data can strengthen the trust level between patient and provider, aiding in the co-diagnosis and co-planning process.

Maybe you’ve invested in equipment that you no longer care to use…such as a laser. Consider alternative uses for it, such as soft tissue recontouring or cold sore treatments and add these in as a “new” service, even if you’re not using the laser for what you initially purchased it for.

New or Unknown Uses for Old Equipment

Sometimes you can have a really challenging time removing specific types of extrinsic stain. Try adjusting the master switch on the slow speed unit to increase or decrease the pressure of the handpiece itself…not everyone knows this is a feature, but it’s on every unit. This isn’t useful just for harder-to-clean stains, but it can also be beneficial for patients who have sensitive teeth. And if your dentist isn’t using that outdated amalgam carving discoid/clioid any longer, the rounded end is ideal for removing stains on the smooth surfaces of the lower anteriors.

When old ultrasonic scalers become too worn to use anymore, put them in your lab to help clean up your models. Easily pop off small bubbles that may have formed during the pour.

Brainstorm on a Routine Basis

Participating in local study clubs and attending peer organization meetings is a wonderful way to refresh your memory or pick up on ideas for equipment features that you aren’t currently using. Implementing those changes in your office can help you work smarter, reduce manpower, and even potentially schedule more treatment cases.


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