Unit 6: Clinical Operations
Clinical administration

Section 4: Dental Office Technology

Information and Clinical Technology

The past few decades have seen the development of many new technologies for use in oral health care. Various applications for oral health practice management have been introduced at an astounding rate within the last 20 years, streamlining the work environment and introducing major benefits to safety net dental clinics. The integration of dental technology is important for the efficient and effective functioning of clinics.

These technologies include, but are not limited to the following.

Information technology, information systems and information management

  • Computer hardware
    • Workstations
    • Networks, both wired and wireless
    • Servers
    • Flat screen monitors
  • Software
    • Practice management
      • Electronic health record
      • Billing
      • Clinical charting
      • Treatment planning
      • Insurance processing
      • Appointment scheduling
    • Digital imaging
      • Radiographs, photographs
    • Voice data entry

Specialized clinical technology

  • Digital radiology
  • Digital cameras
  • Intraoral cameras
  • Computer assisted design/computer assisted manufacturing (CAD/CAM)
    • CEREC, E4D
  • Computerized periodontal probes
  • Caries detection devices
    • DIAGNOdent, KaVo America
  • Air Abrasion units
  • Lasers

While it is possible to practice dentistry without digital and computer technology, it is becoming the standard of practice. According to a study in the Journal of the American Dental Association, 74 percent of solo practitioners and 79 percent of group practitioners used a computer at chairside, and 15 percent managed all patient information on a computer.

In 2008, the National Network for Oral Health Access (NNOHA) published Guide to the Future: Using HIT to Improve Oral Health Access and Outcomes, a white paper on the use of health information technology (HIT) in dental clinics. NNOHA has other HIT resources available on its website.