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Photo of Gene Messenger, DDS

Patient education is pivotal in dentistry. Education empowers patients to make better decisions about their dental health. It’s my goal that every patient I see develops a firm understanding of the health of their teeth. When patients understand their diagnosis or treatment plan, I truly know I am being the best dentist I can be.

I often tell my peers that dental appointments should be comfortable, stress-free and, most of all, interactive. An interactive experience can lead to more enhanced learning; patients understand complex dental processes better and are more invested in their oral health.

I’ve found that digital radiography drives interactive patient experiences and patient acceptance. Unlike film, digital radiography allows patients to follow along from imaging to diagnosis.

Let’s look at my practice. I equipped my operatories with the Schick 33 digital intraoral sensor, and my team and I talk patients through each step. We first address sensor placement and explain what image angle we’re trying to get. Then we examine the image on a computer monitor. With digital, patients can view the images at the exact same time that we do so it makes it easier to discuss the findings. They can also follow along whenever we need to adjust the contrast or clarity to get a better look.

My patients can immediately differentiate the light areas, dark areas, and of course, any abnormalities if they do exist. I always discuss the results openly and encourage my patients to try to find the cavities or lesions on the screen. If they see something unusual, they are not afraid to ask about it.

Research has shown that more than 65 percent of the population is considered visual learners, so it’s easy to see why my case acceptance has improved so dramatically since making the switch to digital. Unlike film, digital images can be enlarged and enhanced for better patient comprehension. And there are no questions about my treatment plans, because patients see for themselves why we need to take care of things.

The bottom line is that if you’re still using film x-rays, you are really missing out on taking that patient experience to the next level. There’s no reason a trip to the dentist can’t be comfortable, stress-free, and interactive.

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