Healthcare Technology Featured Article

July 24, 2020

9 Emerging Trends in Dental Industry to Look Out For

Of all the doctors out there, it’s a safe bet to say dentists are people’s least favorite. It might be associated with the pain of having someone tinker with your teeth or just the uncomfortable sensation of a doctor drilling holes in there. Either way, most people dread a visit to the dentist. Still, that hasn’t stopped dentists and dental experts from continually trying to find ways to make people’s lives easier. The industry is always on the verge of a new breakthrough that makes a trip to the dentist just a bit less terrifying.

Here are some trends that you should look out for in the dental industry. 

Focus On Convenience 

While not a technological breakthrough, there has been a significant focus on patients' convenience and comfort when it comes to healthcare services and dentistry. Suffering from an ailment and having to go visit a doctor is painful enough, and patients hate any further complications. This is why there is a general trend or direction in the dental industry to make patient’s lives easier. This can start while the patient is still at home thinking about going to the dentist. 

For starters, patients can now book appointments online and also fill out questionnaires at their own pace. Gone are the days when you had to spend an hour at the doctor’s filling out forms asking about your medical history, scavenging around in search of a pen, and being forced to wait in pain until you fill out the necessary forms. You can do that at home, not to mention book your own appointments so you wouldn’t have to wait around at the clinic for too long. Adding to the perks you get on the internet, you can also pay online or via your phone, which makes things less complicated when it’s time to visit the dentist.

Emotional Dentistry 

Picking up from the last point, the emphasis on patient convenience in the dental industry has led to the birth of emotional dentistry –– a set of techniques and approaches focusing on the mental aspect of undergoing major dental procedures. Now, patients can have virtual mockups and digital photos created to help them envision what they would look like once a procedure is over. This helps put their fears to rest and gives them the needed confidence to undergo such procedures. More importantly, it makes them committed to the outcome now that they’ve seen it with their own eyes. 

Patients can even experiment with different smiles and shapes for their teeth before undergoing a procedure, which gives them the luxury of choice before settling on something as important as their teeth. You can try out different sets of teeth using digital and mockup techniques, and this helps you settle on the look that appeals the most to you, which in turn will reflect on your satisfaction with the final outcome. 

3D Printing 

3D printing has taken the world by storm over the last few years, influencing several industries, and the dental industry is no exception. The field of orthodontics is undergoing massive changes courtesy of 3D printing, and it’s reflecting on the dental industry all over the world. Using this technology, we are faced with a significant cost reduction and much time saved, unlike the high costs and wasted time often associated with the production process of crowns, veneers, aligners, and other products. This, in turn, reflects the cost of service that patients pay for as they could get the same quality, if not better, for less money, which is always a good thing.

The great thing about 3D printing is the fact that it doesn’t just benefit the patient, but also the doctors. When a practice obtains an in-house 3D printer, it no longer needs to rely on third-party labs and companies to develop such products. The dentist can just create them in-house, which helps save money over time since you will just need a specialist handling the machine rather than an entire company or lab.

True, 3D printers don’t come cheap, but they end up saving a lot of money in the long run. The technology is still relatively new, so there’s no telling how much more it could change the dental industry. But experts are optimistic and expect that, in the future, it might be possible to produce full sets of teeth using 3D printing.

Laser Technology 

At first glance, this might seem like something out of a sci-fi film, but it is very real. Laser technology is one of the most exciting and in-demand trends in the dental industry, owing to its various and unique applications. For starters, it can be used in teeth whitening and provide excellent results at higher efficiency. It’s also used in removing lesions and tooth decay, altering the shape of the gums, getting rid of bacteria in root canals, and a host of other functions. So, what makes laser technology so relevant in the dental industry?

For starters, it eases patient suffering, which is pretty huge in the dental world. The procedures are much smoother, and patients experience less discomfort and pain. It also reflects on the healing time, which is reduced with laser technology. Dentists also don’t use sutures on patients as much, and laser sterilizes the gums without additional products, which reduces the risk of infection. One of the biggest benefits of laser technology in dental procedures is that anesthesia is not necessary, which is excellent news for patients who might suffer from complications if put under anesthesia.

When the laser is used in dental procedures, there is less blood loss, and less damage to the patient’s gum, which means the healing time is significantly shorter and not as painful. In short, the laser makes the procedures easier for both the patient and the dentist, and that is why it has been rising in popularity this fast.

Natural Products 

Dental hygiene is a tricky business, and keeping up with the latest product can be confusing. As for those who like to only use natural products, they are in luck. There has been a steady rise in the popularity of natural dental products, which contain only natural ingredients. You can now get antibacterial toothpaste for gingivitis that contains only natural ingredients, so it won’t cause more inflammation while still protecting your mouth. This makes it easier to treat a condition like gingivitis at home by regularly applying such a toothpaste while brushing gently to protect the gums.

It’s not just the toothpaste that you can get all-natural; you could also get your hands-on bamboo toothbrushes, which are very popular now. It is a better alternative than the average plastic toothbrush, providing you with better results while doing your part toward the environment and cutting down on plastic usage.

Dentists have noticed this direction to use natural products, and many of them are offering alternative natural products for their patients instead of those filled with chemicals. Those natural products are healthier, often cheaper, and they are much better for your oral hygiene and health, not to mention better for the environment as well, which counts for something. 

Leveraging Social Media

This has been an emerging trend in the dental industry for years now, and it is making a huge difference. Dentists who want to attract new patients invest in their online image, and it makes the difference between a successful dentist and an unsuccessful one. The dental industry has come to understand that, like any other business, it needs to have an online presence to reach a large number of people and promote their services. 

This is why you will often stumble upon sponsored ads by dentists on Instagram or Facebook or even Twitter since they understand now that the dental industry needs to have this form of online presence if they were to reach new people. This isn’t as easy as just creating social media pages, though; a dentist needs to invest time, effort, and often money for this endeavor to work. This means regularly posting so that your target audience will be intrigued. The effect of one “before and after” post on people is huge, which is why dentists show patients’ teeth before and after their work, and it always yields excellent results.

Creating a website is also a must so that patients can book appointments, find out about the available services, and just get to know the dentist that they will be working with. First impressions are often crucial here, and this trend in the digital industry is manifested in the number of dentists who have excellent websites that were carefully and eloquently created to appeal to potential patients. 

Artificial Intelligence 

AI has grown in popularity over the past few years, and it’s constantly integrated into a ton of industries, and soon it will be all because AI is the future. The dental industry also leveraged this technological wonder by integrating artificial intelligence into the process of handling patients’ data, from treatment history to patient reviews. In short, AI is used to handle any large chunks of data pertaining to patients or the clinic.

This helps dentists efficiently handle their patients. It also helps them keep up to date on relevant patient patterns to facilitate the treatment, not to mention research papers that a dentist has to keep track of.

Dental Group Practices 

A young dentist would often dream of graduating from school to start their own practice, but that reality quickly fades away and leaves room for dental group practices, which is one of the more popular trends in the industry. For the patients, they are treated in a much more efficient, friendly, and time-saving manner when they deal with dental group practices. As for the dentists, they could generate bigger revenues and decrease costs by teaming up with professionals in their area.

Many dentists are opting for dental group practices instead of a solo one, and it is a very effective way to deal with the industry's challenges. It also helps you keep a steady flow of money after retirement. This type of cooperation helps everyone in the group, and the bigger and more inclusive the practice is, the more clients it will get and the better money all dentists will make. So, now you have general dentists, oral surgeons, orthodontics, and endodontists all working together for the greater good of the group. 

Automated Management Software

Automation technology has been on the rise for all doctors over the past few years, not just dentists, and for good reasons. It can help a dentist handle the workload and simplify it by automatically notifying and confirming appointments with patients. It also helps with scheduling social media posts and other digital marketing efforts. Such software can handle these tasks for a dentist so they could focus on the technical part of the job without having to worry about confirming appointments and follow-up calls since the management software handles such functions and a host of other ones.

This kind of streamlining helps increase a practice’s return on investment since the entire work process would be much more organized, and things would go a lot smoother. Management software can even help patients create an online profile so they can sign up and book appointments or pay, making their lives and the dentist’s a lot easier. 

There will always be emerging trends in the dental industry, just like any other one, but it is all about patient care when it comes to the dental industry. As you can see throughout the article, the main focus was the patient experience and how it can be improved, which is why many of these trends venture into that aspect of the business. At the end of the day, if a patient gets an improved experience, they will come back and recommend the dentist to their friends, which will start a cycle benefiting everyone involved. There is no telling where the new trends would take us, but it will certainly be too exciting a place and with a great emphasis on even further enhancing the patient experience.

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