As a result of my conservative nature, diving into new situations is just not my style. But after 30 years in dentistry, and with my practice located in Seattle, home of Microsoft and other technology giants, I decided it was time to dip my toes into the technology pool by implementing digital technology.
After my decision to “go digital,” I still took a safe, but steady approach. A year ago we installed monitors in all our treatment rooms. Six months later, we installed our computers and networking systems. And six months after that, I started to check out the various imaging software systems that were available. After reading and talking to knowledgeable people, I attended the Washington State Dental Convention where I visited half a dozen digital radiography vendors. After comparing all their systems, I selected two vendors whose product I thought would work well in our office.
To solidify my choice, I had the two vendors come to my office and put on a side-by-side presentation. After comparing image quality, the ease of use, and the comfort of the sensors we unanimously selected the Gendex GXS-700 for our office. The image quality of the Gendex was amazing. We also like the sensors’ direct USB connection. We just had to plug the sensor into our computer and it was ready to work, rather than having to press a button to activate it.
One of our major concerns about going digital was patient comfort. We knew that compared to film, the sensors were more rigid and thicker. The rounded corners of the Gendex sensors turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. It made taking radiographs more comfortable for our patients even to those who have a strong gag reflex. We have been amazed on how little discomfort our patient’s have experienced.
My office staff has been so positive that we are still in disbelief about the office’s easy transition from film to digital. My staff, comprised of six clinical team members (hygienists and assistants) all agree that we would never return to film-based radiography. I originally devised a long-term plan for the transition due to our preconceived “learning curve”. I had announced to our staff that once we started to go digital, we would unplug and remove our developer in two months. It was a surprise that ever since we started to go digital, not once have we turned on our processor.
Digital x-rays have saved us so much time. Due to the ergonomically-shaped sensors, it has been quicker to take radiographs. Since digital images are immediate, our staff has been able to spend more time with the patients and not in the darkroom. For 6 operatories and 3 X-ray heads, we have found that three size 2 sensors and one size 1 sensor has been more than adequate to meet our needs.
The opportunities for education are plentiful with digital radiography. We have found that patients love looking at their x-rays which pop up on our monitors. With the visual information, they are so much more aware of their dental situation and ask more questions. As we co-diagnose their condition, they are more eager to proceed with necessary treatment. When one of our patients viewed the image of a defective margin on one of his old crowns, he wanted to start treatment immediately!
The quality of the radiographs we have captured has been astonishing. We have been able to compare our images with those that we have received electronically from other offices and have been pleased with the quality that Gendex has produced for us. Once we printed a radiograph for our patient to bring to a specialist. The specialist was so impressed with the clarity of the image that we received a call from their office asking what printer we were using. They didn’t realize that it wasn’t the printer that produced the clarity; it was our sensors. The ability to email images to other offices also had made life easier for my front office.
While I had intended at first just to get my feet wet with this new technology, after seeing the images and the patient reaction, I and my staff are glad we dove into the deep end. Now, we are totally immersed in digital imaging and thrilled with the sensors’ ripple effect on many aspects of the dental experience.