I was drinking a glass of Washington Pinot Noir at The Modern Hotel in Boise, Idaho. The next day I’d be taking a sleep apnea course from our friend, Dr. Dan Bruce. I got an email from Dr. Greg Bohle, an oral surgeon back home in New York, about an upcoming case. He’s showing me a surgical plan to replace tooth # 9 with an implant. It’s clear from the CT scan that the patient is bi-maxillary protrusive, so it’ll be easy to make this a screw-retained case. I replied that the surgical plan looks great and we’re ready to book him for surgery.
Let’s make this clear:
(1) I was relaxing with a glass of wine on the other side of the country,
(2) I saw a 3-D image of a patient’s anatomy before a scalpel ever touched his gums,
(3) I communicated by touching a piece of glass that is part of a computer that I can fit in my pocket.
WE ARE LIVING IN THE FUTURE. G.V. Black would soil his 19th century undergarments if he knew where dentistry would be today.
There has been an explosion in dental technology over the past 15 or so years. Let’s look at 10 year slices from the past. Dentistry from 1950 was not that different compared to 1960; a few new advances but basically similar. Same for 1960 to 1970. And so on, until we get to today. Dentistry in the year 2000 can be very different from 2010.
I say “can be very different” because there are dentists who practice the same way they did 20 years ago. They still do mostly amalgams, develop traditional radiographs, and use a paper ledger to track patient payments. There is nothing wrong with that and one can still do excellent dentistry under those conditions. However let’s recognize that the rest of the dental community has embraced the efficiencies and awesomenabilites (new word) of the technological revolution. And dentistry has been changed forever.
I think we’re at a point where a 10 year span means radical changes for our practices. Thank the Internet. Thank smaller microchips. Thank the Cloud. We live in a world where we can help plan a case from the other side of the country in the blink of an eye. But it also means we have to invest in new tech more frequently than our predecessors if we want to keep up. It’s the burden to bear for our generation.
We get to live in a crazy fun time filled with new toys, but we also have to be quicker on our feet. We have to quickly assess which tech is going to sizzle and which is going to fizzle. Otherwise we buy stuff that we don’t ever use, fades into obscurity, or worse, compromises our patient care. But I think we’re up to the challenge. For me, the secret is to not just believe what the sales rep says; do research on your gear before you invest your capital. And the best research is often talking to your colleagues. I send out the feelers to my dental friends around the world and my inbox gets filled with opinions I trust.
So let’s raise a glass of that Pinot and cheers to whatever cool stuff the next 10 years will bring. Personally, I’m still waiting on hoverboards.
We were promised hoverboards!