My team and I have recently changed to a new practice management software system. Changing something as crucial as software (the nervous system of your business) is often a fraught experience, because you never really know if you are going to be pleased with the change until it is, and let's be honest, too late to change back.
Thankfully, the transition has been smooth and truly enjoyable. The people who work for the new system provider (Praktika for the curious amongst you) have proven to be wonderful and very supportive of us in the transition phase. Some of our systems are now smoother and simpler (always a win). Other tasks feel a bit clunky and slow, but we know it is just a matter of time and familiarisation and we will all be up to speed.
The changeover has made me pause to reflect on my relationship to tech in general, and the love-hate relationship I have developed with it over the years.
Generally, I have to say I love technology and 'new toys' . . . but I am also often quite slow on the uptake. My approach has been to never sit at the 'cutting edge' because I prefer for me and you (my patient) not to get cut.
Here is good example of why I sit back a bit. And wait. And watch.
Years ago, eager material scientists made a type of bond for fillings (the stuff that sticks the filling to your tooth) that minimised the number of steps, combining 3 stages into one. The idea was to increase speed and efficiency (and profits) for dentists. Too good to be true? Yes, it was. Thankfully, this was a cutting edge moment I refused to participate in and by waiting, I was able to observe the exaggerated promises fail to deliver.
This kind of shortcut sounds like it would obviously fail, but quite a number of dentists got caught in the glossy brochures and hype. It is easy to get excited by technological advancements and grab them before they have been tested in the only testing ground worth trusting - real life.
To this day, I still use a filling bonding system that is around 20 years old. Very old fashioned, very slow and very, very effective, strong and stable. 🏆
There are other times when I leap at advancements. An example is the machine in the picture above ☝🏻, the EMS Airflow. It was not super new tech when I purchased it in 2017, in fact there had been versions of it around for close to thirty years. What was new was the type of powder it used to clean teeth, and the very cool delivery system that delivers the powder to the teeth. Erythritol, it turns out, is an incredibly gentle and powerful material for cleaning teeth and wiping out bacteria - my favourite thing in the world. Many of you know I wear quite crazy magnifying glasses (5 times magnification) and everyday I watch this machine blast plaque (bacteria) off teeth.
The joy this gives me is difficult to describe. Sadly true . . . I need to get out more.
What I love about this machine:
It uses warm water. I have it set to 'warm bath' temperature (the warmest possible) and the effect is super supportive for almost every person with sensitive teeth.
It is effective and gentle. These two points are all I need to love tech. Technology must benefit people, genuinely make our lives simpler, smoother and in the case of healthcare, healthier. The gentleness I can offer with this machine helps people to build not only trust and confidence in dentistry, it also builds a stronger relationship between people and their mouth. I have seen people become more interested in their teeth and gums after years of receiving cleaning that they really enjoy and do not fear.
The scaler is the gentlest one I have ever used. Scaling is never fun, but with this scaler (used gently) it offers the most pleasant scaling experience I have ever been able to deliver.
Gentle and effective around implants and under bridges. Implants require special care. Their surfaces are delicate and easily damaged by scaling. The Airflow makes implant cleaning a breeze. It is super effective under bridgeworks too.
Bacteria hate it. This brings me immense joy. Enough said.
What I do not love about it:
Stupidly expensive. The price was ridiculous, but worth every cent. I have no regrets about this purchase.
Stupidly easy to damage. For such a beautifully designed piece of equipment, it is very easy to break. It has already been damaged and sent to 'machine hospital'. This is a design flaw that is very simple to overcome, but the manufacturers have not corrected it. I really hate this sort of silliness. If you are going to make something this great, do it properly and don't skimp on these important details.
So there are my observations on tech . . really just an excuse to write a love letter to a machine I love more and more each day, because it is making a real difference to people's oral health.