September 1, 2005
by Dental Practice Management
Dr. Edward J. Mills is the founder of the Atlanta Center for Restorative Dentistry and the Atlanta Institute for Advanced Education. He is the past president of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry and the Director of the Medical College of Georgia’s comprehensive dental implant program. He has lectured extensively on state-of-the-art restorative techniques both nationally and internationally. Dr. Mills serves on the advisory board for Kodak’s dental systems group, where his guidance and input assist with the development of new products and services for the greater dental community.
Recently, we had the opportunity to visit Dr. Mills at his practice and talk with him about his experience with digital radiography as well as other digital imaging technologies. Here are just some of the answers he had to our questions about implementing digital imaging technology in his practice.
Q:What did you take into consideration when researching digital radiography systems?
A:My primary consideration was the quality of the diagnostic images. I was looking for technology that I could use to help improve my initial diagnosis, increase the implementation of actual treatment and enhance the follow-up care for my patients. My staff and I were competent using traditional film, and we knew that we were going to have to invest time and money when using digital sensors. I wanted to find a system with the capabilities and features I needed, yet would be easy to learn and use.
Q:How long did you research digital radiography solutions before you purchased your system?
A:I considered implementing digital radiography for about four to five years.
Q:Why did it take you so long to implement digital radiography?
A:I was concerned about the initial investment in the technology and whether or not I would be able to obtain the same diagnostic information as I had from traditional film. After researching the benefits of digital imaging technology, I realized that by waiting to make the move to digital, I was depriving my patients of the most technologically advanced treatment I could provide.
Q:What were the key factors that helped you select a digital radiography system?
A:My primary concern was image quality. It was only natural that I selected the system that offers the highest resolution and the software I need to enhance my diagnostic abilities. For these reasons, I selected the Kodak RVG 6000 digital radiography system.
This system has an image resolution of over 20 lp/mm — the highest resolution in the industry today. That means that I can get the high-definition images I need for endodontic and other procedures requiring maximum precision. And, it comes with the Logicon caries detection system to help detect the presence and depth of penetration of proximal caries on permanent teeth.
Q:Tell us how you utilize digital radiography in your practice.
A:Digital imaging enhances a clinician’s sensory acuity. We take digital panoramics as well as a digital full mouth series of x-rays on all initial patients. Our ability to evaluate these radiographs in front of a patient quickly on a large computer monitor helps the patient better understand their pre-treatment condition. It further allows us to develop a treatment plan which takes the patient from their pre-treatment condition to their desired results. During treatment, we are able to obtain fast, accurate images which can sometimes alter the course of treatment as well as enhance the treatment outcome. Following treatment, we are able to take subsequent radiographic images of our patients. The information we obtain allows for improved post-treatment management and patient care.
Q:How do you use digital technology in presenting diagnoses and treatment options to patients and in communicating your findings to other doctors?
A:The comprehensive system allows for efficient organization of patient information which can be retrieved easily when preparing case presentations. I use my dental digital photography system to obtain digital photographs of my patients before, during and after treatment. The full digital system also includes an intraoral video camera that allows for fast, close-up images within the patient’s mouth. These images can be utilized to inform the patient of their treatment needs as well as demonstrate specific clinical conditions to other doctors.
When you’ve been practicing for over 25 years, patients’ charts become very large and cumbersome. Together with our imaging system, our integrated practice management software allows for a clean organization of patient data and images. We can easily obtain clinical images and import these images to Microsoft word documents as well as PowerPoint presentations.
Q:How do your patients perceive the transformation of your practice into a digital environment?
A:Reviewing digital images on an LCD screen with a patient gets them involved in the discovery process. They can understand their pre-treatment condition much better when they visualize what is present on radiographs and on digital photographs. Once the patient clearly understands their present condition, as well as the appropriate treatment options, it is much easier to obtain their true, informed consent.
Q:What should doctors and their staff expect when they make the transition from film to digital x-rays?
A:When you first get out of dental school, you think you know a lot. You may or may not — but regardless, your senses are better. The longer you’ve been in practice, the more retrospective thoughts, practical knowledge and clinical experience you have to offer your patients. Unfortunately as we get older and our senses are less acute, our ability to evaluate radiographs as well as patients’ clinical condition may diminish. Digital technology enhances our senses and our ability to continue to provide high levels of patient care.
Interview conducted by Eastman Kodak Company.