Digital X-Rays, Cosmetic Dentistry and CRM

All your bites are belong to us.

Since my last dentist visit, my dentist has acquired a “digital X-ray machine.” Apparently the device uses one-tenth the level of radiation of a standard dental X-ray machine. The first thing I noticed about this was they didn’t hand me the lead apron. The hygienist was excited about the prospect of the office not having to pay for raw materials (averaging about $600/month) and yet another service to collect and process badges. Although I know the apron is unnecessary because of the conical shield on the emitter, I still reflexively cover my you-know-whats with my hands while the thing’s buzzing. (Nota Bene: a set of bitewings is 0.2mrem, or about 1/1800th the radition exposure you’d typically receive in a year from normal livin’.)

The office is impressively well-wired. An iPod powers the audio system while each examination room has a flat-panel display running Dentrix’s Mercedes-featured software. It thus shouldn’t have surprised me when, about fifteen minutes into the cleaning, the display changed in the periphery. The results were processed and already ready for review. Normal X-ray film images are literally full-scale, that is teensy. These are a quarter-screen big without excessive pixelization. I could see the “amalgam tattoo,” a small piece of silver left >25 years ago during a filling. Unlike standard X-rays, it’s sensitive enough to determine differences between silver and composite fillings. And if you get bored with that, there are also a potpourri of standard Photoshop adjustments: zoom, fiddling with contrast and brightness, bas relief, and texturizing. All they need to do is add 3-D and we can have keyframe animation of my mouth. (ewwww.)

Also back in October, I got on the mailing list of the provider of the programming displayed on the monster big screen TV in the lobby. Voluntarily. As twisted as it sounds, I was interested how marketing techniques are appiled in other industries. Based on a quicvk read of the quarterly newsletter, I can safely say it’s the same stuff.

The big buzz in the industry is cosmetic dentistry. There’s no insurance oversight, so the sky’s the limit on the revenue potential. A particular article caught my attention. Dr. Tom Orent, whose claim to fame is increasing his practice’s revenue 50% over the last two years through proactive marketing of cosmetic dental services, offered ten tips for building a practice. (This is a lead-in to his seminars and services.)

[O]ne of the most common things written on our cosmetic questionnaire is […]

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