We had always enjoyed vacationing in Maine; my goal was to move to a small town there, take over a small practice, go fishing, and fade into the sunset. However, once I got there, I became revitalized. I decided to take another bold step—build my dream office. I knew that I wanted this new practice to reflect my philosophy of giving the most advanced treatment that my skill and technology could produce. I am a big proponent of continuing education, so I felt I had that part well covered. Now it was time to add technology to the mix. After many months of planning and construction, of choosing everything from paint colors to major equipment, we opened the doors in March 2005. I now have a beautiful, high-tech office that offers a wide range of quality services to the community. I had help in realizing this dream from local craftspeople, my Sullivan-Schein Sales Consultants, and from my dedicated and knowledgeable team.
One of the technologies we wanted to implement was digital radiography. I already knew that digital X-ray meant instant images, no chemicals, and enhanced diagnostics. And my team was excited to lose the darkroom and the heaps of film that it generates. This coincided with our goal to “go paperless.”
Although I did a lot of research myself, my team was instrumental in the final selection of the system we chose. I valued their input. After all, they are the ones who take the X-rays in the office. I knew their participation was key to our success in this digital endeavor. I wanted to make sure the transition was a positive experience for them.
Luckily, Tracy, one of my hygienists, had used a digital system that had varying sizes of sensors and hard-to-use software, so that one was “out.” We went over the research and checked out several systems. Ultimately, we chose a system that made sense to all of us; was easy to use; and gave the best images.
Once our digital X-ray system arrived, we installed the software right away. With the installation guide and some phone assistance from the company, we took our first X-rays that day. The company also provided training videos that allowed the team to learn the basic functions. These short videos gave my team the confidence to begin using the system.
The next week, we had our in-office training session with a company-certified instructor, Laura. The team appreciated that she was a hygienist that worked the system in a clinic before she became a trainer. One of her suggestions was to tell the patients that the sensor is smooth and rounded like a jellybean, that they would no longer experience the cutting sensation they do with film. Her insights helped continue to raise the team’s confidence.
After training, digital radiology quickly became second nature to my team. Tracy became our “digital girl”; she made sure we had the correct settings on our X-ray heads and computers, those that give us the best image quality. The software has become her passion. If we have a question, she knows the answer!
From the beginning, my team took great pride in our digital X-ray system. They are excited to share their knowledge with our patients and tell them about the benefits. We ended up doing so well with intraoral X-ray that we added a digital pan; both run neatly through the same imaging software.
All and all, the team whole-heartedly accepted this technology. They like the instant images that can be easily enhanced; the fact that all the images are stored in one place; and that these images can be displayed anywhere in the office. I asked them what they would do if I told them we were going back to film. Cippa, my assistant, was very clear in her answer: “No way! Absolutely not! Film is smelly, toxic, slow, and it takes away time we could spend with our patients!” But I don’t have any intention of going back. Digital X-ray, like other technologies in this beautiful office, is one of the reasons why we all like coming to work each day.
Dr. Fred Wigand maintains a private practice in Topsham, Maine. He graduated from Temple University School of Dentistry in 1975. He is a Fellow with the Academy of General Dentistry, and is currently enrolled in the AGD’s Mastership Program. Dr. Wigand lives in Brunswick, Maine with this wife of 32 years, Debra, a former dental hygienist who now manages Maine’s Cardiovascular Health Program. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.