Top 10 Dental Trends How to Benefit from 2014’s

How to Benefit from 2014’s
Top 10
by Dr. John Flucke
Dr. John Flucke breaks down dentistry’s top 10 products and
technologies he sees trending in the dental industry in 2014
... and why they matter to your dental practice
A Publication of
Table of Contents
One of the great things about my position here at Dental Products Report is
that I get a chance to see and tinker with some pretty cool things and new
products. One of the other great things is that I get to tell you about them.
However, this time it’s all about discussing the future. This e-book will deal with
10 trends and products I see trending through the next year and how you can
harness their power for a year of success. -- Dr. John Flucke
Chapter 1 | Internet- Connected Equipment
Chapter 2 | The Cloud
Chapter 3 | Electronic Health Records
Chapter 4 | HIPAA
Chapter 5 | Cone Beam Technology
Chapter 6 | CAD/CAM
Chapter 7 | Data Security
Chapter 8 | Data Backup
Chapter 9 | The Disappearance of Track Lights
Chapter 10 | 3D Printing
I’ve mentioned my newest autoclave in Dental Products Report before. The
Statim G4 has all of the bells and whistles you have come to expect from
SciCan’s top-of-the-line highspeed sterilization system. The new advantage it
brings to the table is its ability to communicate.
The G4 has an Ethernet port that allows it to connect to your network by
either a wired or wireless connection. It sends to the doctor, via email, all
pertinent info on sterilization cycles. However, it will also contact SciCan and
your preferred service technician if there is a problem. It will even notify them
of what’s wrong.
There are a few other devices like this and more in the product pipeline. In 5 or
10 years, we’ll wonder how we ever got along without connected equipment.
What you need to know:
• Internet-connected devices can communicate with office, service
technician, manufacturer, and others. They continually monitor the status
of the device to ensure maximum uptime.
• When problems arise, the device identifies the problem and contacts the
manufacturer and service technician. It identifies the problem so that the
service technician is aware of what parts to bring to the service call. It also
means that if a team member can rectify the problem, someone can call
the office and coach the team member through simple repair procedures.
The Statim G4: The STATIM G4
will offer you a level of
interactivity never seen
“In 5 or 10 years, we’ll
wonder how we ever got
along without [it].”
- Dr. Flucke
The Cloud
The Cloud
This has been a big buzz phrase for a couple of years and it is only going to
continue to grow. The concept behind “The Cloud” is simply using a computer
on the Internet to do something rather than doing it on your computer. Online
banking, booking airline travel, ordering with Amazon … all of those situations
and applications utilize The Cloud.
Now many offices are utilizing Cloud backup with systems like Liptak Dental’s
DDS Rescue.
The next big thing on the event horizon is Cloud-based software to run your
dental office. Imagine needing only an Internet connection and a web browser
to run your dental software! No massive software updates, no network
configuration problems, and no computers to upgrade because of software
Cloud systems like Curve Dental have been around for a while and are
gaining traction, and Henry Schein recently launched Dentrix Ascend in The
Cloud. When the big boys enter this market, you know this is something that’s
time has come.
What you need to know:
• Since cloud-based services do the computer processing on their
computers, minimal processing power is required to use them. This means
older computers, tablets, and smartphones will work as well as expensive
desktop computers.
• Since tablets can be used and are designed to be mobile, the number of
workstations in their costs is greatly reduced.
• The cloud eliminates the need for backing up data, upgrading hardware,
and upgrading software. Needless to say, eliminating these things cuts
costs and saves money for the practice.
Dentrix Ascend: With Dentrix
Ascend, you get a fresh new
interface that packs the most
advanced clinical, front office
and business management
capabilities into a surprisingly
easy and intuitive new user
“The next big thing on the
event horizon is Cloudbased software ... .”
- Dr. Flucke
Electronic Health Records
Electronic Health Records
For those of us who have been “chartless” or “paperless” for a while now, this
doesn’t seem like too big of a deal. However, for those offices still languishing in
a paper-based charting world, this may be a bit intimidating.
The Electronic Health Record (also known as EHR) is basically an electronic
chart. The idea has been around for years. The original concept was a
medical record that could be added to, and read from, any medical office. If
you think of financial records, a person can go to an ATM almost anywhere on
the planet and the system knows how much money you have available and can
dispense it to you. Yet health records are not universally available in a similar
In order to decrease costs by increasing efficiency, the federal government
would like to see a true EHR that could be accessed easily by any provider who
needs to access to the information. We’re not there yet, but there is a focus on
the situation.
Will dentistry also be involved in a truly “universal” EHR? Only time will tell.
However, from personal experience, I can tell you that being chartless provides
for a tremendous amount of efficiency.
What you need to know:
• EHRs greatly increase efficiency through the utilization of computer
processing to store and retrieve data.
• Dentistry has a huge advantage in this category because digital options for
dental records have been available for so long and are so well adapted to
the dental environment.
• A Warning: In my opinion, merging dental data with medical data may
prove problematic. At the current time, I’m an advocate for keeping the
systems separate.
The whole concept of patient privacy has had a much greater focus since HIPAA
went into effect. Offices now find that they are shredding anything that might
contain even a hint of patient information. In our office, we are shredding
Post-It notes, envelopes … you name it. We feel it is much better to err on the
side of caution.
One thing that I feel will change in the not-too-distant future is email. We have
begun testing a service that provides email encryption any time something with
any type of patient data is transmitted. The service (which I’m currently not
at liberty to announce) is simple to use and provides the security necessary to
make sure secure data stays secure. It uses an encryption algorithm similar to
an electronic credit card transaction so you know it is secure.
What you need to know:
• Delivering patient data electronically is amazingly more efficient than doing so via traditional mail.
• Sending patient data via unencrypted e-mail is a violation of HIPPA regulations. Secure e-mail solutions (such as allow an office to
competently send patient data in a secure and encrypted manner.
Cone Beam Technology
Cone Beam
The science of 3D cone beam imaging continues to make inroads into the
every day practice of dentistry and it shows no signs of letting up in the near
Ask anyone who either owns a unit or has access to one if they would like to
go back to 2D and you will hear a resounding “No!” The ability to see things
you’ve never been able to see before gives your treatment a greater amount of
predictability and lets you see every potential problem … before you start the
Now that we are seeing digital impression systems becoming more and more
common, companies are creating ways to merge the data from 3D systems and
those digital impressions. This creates a constantly updatable database of the
3D patient. How amazing is that?
What you need to know:
• Virtual treatment planning allows the doctor to take a scan and virtually
“place” an implant directly into the 3D volume. The implant can be moved
and virtually placed in a “drag and drop” manner until it is exactly where
the doctor wants it to be. This is done while being able to see all structures
such as surrounding teeth, bone levels, the inferior alveolar canal, etc.
• Once virtual treatment planning is complete, the info scan with virtually
placed implant can be sent to one of many different companies that will
create a surgical guide. The guide allows the doctor to place the implant in
exactly the same place as it was designed to in the software. This greatly
reduces the chance of errors and bad outcomes.
• CBCT is being used in more and more applications — orthodontics,
endodontics, oral surgery, sleep apnea treatment, implants, and more. I
can see a time when a 3D scan on patients is just a routine part of recordkeeping. We will look back on the days of a FMX or a pano and bitewings
and say, “Remember when?”
Gendex GXDP-700™ Series:
Along with the ability to
transform from 2D
Panoramics to Cephalometrics
to 3D, the GXDP-700 Series
gives clinicians dependable
image capture of a wide variety
of radiographs.
“[CBCT] gives your
treatment a greater amount
of predictability ... .”
- Dr. Flucke
In the early days of technology in dentistry, we were forced to use carts to haul
our equipment around the office. When CAD/CAM systems came along, it was
pretty much the same thing. The acquisition units needed to be wheeled to
where the patient was located.
While not a dealbreaker, dentists have always wanted a system that was
smaller and more portable. That system is now here with the arrival of
Planmeca PlanScan - E4D Technologies. The Planmeca PlanScan is an
acquisition camera that plugs into a laptop or operatory computer, when you
want. Expect other CAD/CAM and digital impression companies to follow suit.
What you need to know:
• The advances in this product category over the last two to three years
have been amazing. Between software advances and the remarkable
hardware that goes with it, this is something to which most offices should
definitely be paying attention. Even if you don’t have the desire to design
and mill restorations in your office, digital impression systems are here to
stay and will only continue to grow.
• When I got a chance to see and try a prototype of the Planmeca
PlanScan - E4D Technologies, I was blown away. I scanned a dentoform
with no errors in a matter of a minute or two. Portability is always something I’m pushing manufacturers to provide and, in doing away with a
cart-based acquisition system, this is a huge step forward.
• The Nevo system requires its own laptop but, in my opinion, it’s much
easier to place a laptop in each treatment area than to wheel a bulky cart
around the office.
• In the last five years, it seems like there have been as many advances in
this product category as there were in the previous 10. Now that many
systems are power-free, easy to use, and have incredible software — this is
no longer a niche category for geeky dentists.
Now that we are seeing an
increase in the mainstream
adoption of 3D printing, the
idea of creating dental
restorations by additive instead
of subtractive technologies is
looming on the not-too-distant
horizon. I can see a time in the
not-too-distant future for many
offices are printing their
patients’ restorations in-office.
Planmeca PlanScan- E4D Technologies:
Everything about the Planmeca PlanScan E4D Technologies Scanner makes
restorative dentistry quicker and easier
– from intuitive computer-guided image
capture to plug-and-play technology that
gives you the freedom to scan at multiple
workstations. And, of course, it’s
“... This is no longer a
niche category for geeky
- Dr. Flucke
Data Security
Data Security
This subject cannot be emphasized enough. Data breaches happen everyday
and many of them are not discovered until much later … if at all. It’s because of
this that we have to be hyper-vigilant in protecting our data.
Unfortunately, this is really beyond the skills of the average person in a dental
office. Because of that fact, I highly recommend a regular security assessment
from your IT personnel. When I say “IT personnel,” I mean just that. Find people
who really know IT security and let them do their job. That does not mean
hiring a high school kid or an employee’s child who is “good with computers.”
The security chain is only as strong as its weakest link and you do not want that
link to be your IT expert!
I advise finding someone who is really good and sticking with him or her. For my
office, it is the IT Department at my supplier Goetze Dental. They hire the best
IT folks, plus Goetze has a vested interest in keeping my practice secure,
running, and profitable. At the very least, you should be running anti-virus,
anti-spyware, and some type of firewall software. This stuff isn’t cheap, but
neither is a data breach. Look at it as insurance.
What you need to know:
• If you follow tech news, one of the topics you’ll see on a regular basis
deals with security. It might be more appropriate to say that it deals
with security flaws. Stealing customer data has become big business for
cyber-thieves. We owe it to our patients and the welfare of our businesses
to be constantly vigilant in decreasing the likelihood of data theft.
• Often, the weakest link in the security chain is your employees. By that,
I don’t mean that your staff is stealing your data. No, the risk is staff
opening virus-infected e-mails, leaving passwords written somewhere,
bringing in a jump drive with the music they want to listen to (not realizing
the jump drive also has a virus) or other similar scenarios.
• Because of these risks, it’s a good idea to cover cybersecurity issues with
your staff on a regular basis. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
• Make sure that every computer on your network is routinely scanning for
nefarious programs. Many times cyber-thieves will break directly into a
system, but often they manage through viruses to actually have an infected
computer on your network contact them on a regular basis and allow full
access to your network.
• By routinely checking for these types of programs, you can prevent these
problems before they occur. Every computer in my office does a complete
virus scan every 24 hours. Also, make sure that your antivirus software is
checking for updates at least once a day.
“This stuff isn’t cheap,
but neither is a data
- Dr. Flucke
Data Backup
Data Backup
I will admit to being a bit OCD about my backups … and I don’t mean just my
office data either. I have multiple redundant backups of my data spread over
multiple locations. Basically, short of global thermo-nuclear war, I should be
good. However, I really seriously doubt many of you could say the same thing,
right? Right? Hey, I’m talking to you! Yes, you!
So … what should you do? Would you want to spend all of your free
time keeping track of your backups and reconfiguring them when the need
arises? That’s what I do (I never told you it was easy being me).
In the past three or four years, many of you have begun trusting companies
to do your backups for you. These companies are installing a program on your
server that then uploads your data to a secure server somewhere offsite. These
storage companies and their servers are in The Cloud (See Chapter Two).
I’m recommending these services for any office that wants to make sure it
doesn’t lose data in the event of a disaster. However, I’m not recommending
every service. Many of these companies are setup to provide backups for
families not wanting to lose bank records or family photos, but they are not set
up to provide strategic backup for a thriving business that needs access to its
data now in case of a disaster.
My recommendation is to use a company that has a vested interest in keeping
you in business. By that, I mean using a service from a dental supply company.
Patterson and Henry Schein both offer online backup solutions as do regional
dental suppliers such as Goetze Dental here in the Midwest.
These companies want you to stay in business and their online backup
solutions are designed not only to keep you backed up, but to help you recover
and be seeing patients as fast as possible after disaster strikes. By partnering
with a dental company, you know they have your best interests in mind.
Data Backup
There’s also the most amazing office backup system that I have ever seen … so
much so in fact that it is the winner of the Pride Best in Class award for two
consecutive years -- DDS Rescue.
It’s a self-contained computer that is shipped to your office by Liptak Dental and
plugs into your network via standard network cabling. A program is then installed
on your server that allows the DDS Rescue system to see the server on the
network and connect to it.
The DDS Rescue system creates multiple bootable backups of your data onsite.
However, that’s only half of the amazing part. The other half is that these same
bootable backups are also uploaded to The Cloud and stored in a secure server
If a disaster ever befalls your office, these bootable backups can be accessed,
giving you access to your data. My buddy Dr. Marty Jablow lost power in his New
Jersey office in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, but he was able to stay in
contact with his patients thanks to DDS Rescue.
What you need to know:
• This point is extremely critical: If you don’t have your data, you have lost
both the ability to run your practice and the ability to collect the money your
practice has billed. Starting over could be your only option and that isn’t an
option that anyone I know wants.
• ioSafe Hard Drives: These hard drives are not portable. They stay in the
• office and that is the beauty of them. They are designed to withstand fire and
water. So much so, in fact, that they can be heated to 1550°F for 30 minutes
and/or then be immersed in fresh or salt water to a depth of 10 feet for 72
hours without loss of data. They are designed to be there through the “worstcase scenario.”
• Drobo: This is a product that is also not portable. The model I have is designed as a small shoebox sized device that holds multiple hard drives. The
one I have holds four drives of 1 TB each.
8 GB Jump Drives: While not
nearly as sexy as the other three
options I’ve mentioned, the
critical files Eaglesoft and I need
to run my practice are stored on
these little solid-state (no
moving parts) wonders of
modern technology. They are
almost impossible to destroy
and, while not offering a fast
way to retrieve your data, they
do the job and do it very well.
DDS Rescue: This is a two-pronged Virtual Server. That’s right I said “virtual server.” The DDS Rescue device is a
computer that connects to your office network and basically clones your server and creates a separate bootable server
right in your office. What if your office server crashes? Call them and they can quickly have their device functioning as
your office server and you won’t miss a beat.
Oh, and that second prong I mentioned? It’s just a little something called “the cloud.” The device also creates a virtual
server in the cloud simultaneously by leaders creating the one in your office. Should the worst-case scenario happen
and you lose your office and all the hardware? You can run the virtual cloud server just like it was sitting in your office.
“If you don’t have your
data, you have lost the
ability to run your practice”
- Dr. Flucke
No Track Lights
Say Goodbye to
Track Lights
I built my dream office about six years ago. It was completely designed, from
the ground up (literally) with technology in mind. It was an incredible rush
watching it all come together like the proverbial well-oiled machine and I still
remember a discussion I had with the folks from Goetze Dental as we were
planning the final few stages of the operatory design.
The question was, “What kind of track lights are you wanting to use?” Now I
know for many offices that is a legitimate question, but for me, we hadn’t used
track lights for years. I had been using auxiliary lighting attached to my
surgical telescopes. This type of illumination is brighter, easier to use, and costs
less than track light options.
When I was first asked about installing track lights, I asked what the cost would
be. A middle of the road option was around $3,500 per operatory. For the
seven-operatory office I was building, the cost for all new lighting would have
been $24,500.
LED systems currently available cost between $500 and $1,500, depending on
brightness and other features. When you realize that this cost is only on the
glasses you are wearing, the savings are staggering. I could have spent $3,500
for each treatment area (total $24,500 for a less desirable option) or $1,500 (a
one-time cost) to equip my glasses with the better option.
Needless to say, I decided not to go with track lights.
No Track Lights
What you need to know:
• Magnification has become a must-have for many doctors. Statistics show
that, at a minimum, 50% of dentists in the United States use magnification
on a regular basis. It’s a fact of light physics: The higher your magnification
is, the less light actually enters the surgical telescopes which means less light
enters your eyes.
• As you move up the magnification, auxiliary lighting becomes something that
isn’t just nice to have, it’s something you must have.
• Besides the cost savings of not needing track lights, there is also the
physical break that auxiliary lighting provides for your body. You don’t really
think about how many times you move and adjust your track light until you
don’t have to do it anymore. The strain on your neck and back from trying to
accommodate either not moving the track light or trying to compensate for
the less-than-ideal lighting it provides is substantial.
• Then there is the efficiency component. Everywhere you look, the light
follows. This means that you can see better and work more efficiently simply
because the field is bigger and brighter than ever before.
• I perform all of my dentistry with 4.8X Orascoptic surgical telescopes and
auxiliary LED lighting (even hygiene exams) and there is no way you could get
me to work without them.
Orascoptic HiRes Plus
3x and 4x loupes: Orascoptic’s
highest definition loupe, HiRes
Plus features a prismatic design
yielding higher power, higher
definition, and wider fields
than any other expanded field
loupes available.
“Magnification has become
a must-have for many
- Dr. Flucke
3D Printing
3D Printing
While we may not see this go mainstream in 2014, trust me when I say it will
go mainstream … sooner rather than later. In 2013, we saw several non-dental
companies create 3D scanners and printers.
The idea is conceptually a pretty simple one. We’ve had scanners for years now,
but they’ve only been able to scan and re-create images in the X and Y axes. A
3D scanner is a special device that scans for all sides and adds the Z axis as part
of the scan. The means you get height, width, and depth.
Once you’ve got a scan of an object or you can design the object on a computer
and forgo the scan you are ready to print. The process of 3D printing isn’t as
complicated as it seems (which is why we’re seeing a big surge in its
development). Just like ink jet printers lay down layers of ink and those layers
can overlap to form any color you can imagine, 3D printers use different
materials (depending on what you are creating) that are laid down in layers,
one on top of the other. As the layers are added, the object literally grows one
layer at a time.
While we are currently seeing dental CAD/CAM systems that take solid blocks
and grind them down to create a restoration (subtractive), in the not-toodistant future I can see us designing restorations and then printing them
(additive) with very little waste.
The technology to create these objects exists today. Now it’s just a matter of
being able to print with the precision our profession demands and being able to
print a material that will survive in the oral environment.
3D Printing
What you need to know:
• I mentioned this earlier in the CAD/CAM section, but it bears repeating … this
is a technology that will be here sooner as opposed to later.
• Since its inception, CAD/CAM has required milling that is subtractive. By that,
I mean a robotic milling unit grinds on a block of a restorative material and
basically removes anything that shouldn’t be part of the final restoration. On
the other hand, 3-D printing is basically the opposite. It lays down layer after
layer and builds the object one layer at a time.
• The only thing that is really keeping this technology from dentistry is finding
ideal materials that can be printed. As we all know, the demands placed on
dental materials by the oral environment are difficult.
• However, with that being said, dentistry is full of genius material scientists
who are constantly working to improve the materials we use on a daily basis.
This is an area that is simply too big for the problem to remain unsolved for
long. Trust me when I say in dental materials laboratories, people are already
working on the solution.
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