Today I brought the Apple iPad to work for use in the dental office.
Needless to say, it was a hit. Patients played Scrabble, read Winnie the Pooh, and watched the latest Netflix movies.
But an iPad in the dental chair is so much more than the “cool” factor.
1. It Will Educate in the Waiting Room.
First, the obvious. I can create interactive quizzes, videos, and articles for my patients to learn about dental care while they wait.
Ask the Dentist is one of my attempts at increasing the availability of oral health information on the web, but there’s something different about placing the information right into a patient’s hands.
2. It Will Reduce Radiation Exposure.
The iPad will serve as a conduit for taking low-radiation dental x-rays and allowing the patient to see the problem areas on the iPad.
Since digital sensors, like those in digital cameras, are better at gathering light, using it to take x-rays instead of the analog method allows for less radiation for the patient.
If a patient has a cavity, I can hand her the iPad and she can zoom in and examine the issue herself and then email it to herself so she can keep it for her personal online health records.
3. It Will Provide Access to Online Health Records.
As the iPad propagates itself throughout the medical community, there will come the day when I can place the iPad in the hands of a patient and ask them to log in to their online health records. I will be able to look at an x-ray of the patient’s tooth from a dentist in another part of the country.
Chances are, you won’t have the same dentist your whole life. But sometimes I will need to see a tooth x-ray that was taken by your old dentist in Wisconsin in order to make decisions. The iPad will be the new portal for patients to access online health records and hand them over to the dentist.
4. It Will Decrease Dental Phobia.
I have cable television in all of my operatory rooms but cable is, well, cable.
Now I’ll hand the iPad to a patient before a root canal with a choice of a Netflix streaming video.
Or I’ll let my younger patients play an online game or check Facebook – way better at distracting kids from procedures than the cooking channel.
The iPad can distract and entertain patients with dental anxiety, which prevents some 30 to 40 million people in the U.S. from seeing a dentist (and puts them at a higher risk of several serious health conditions).
5. It Will Improve Diagnoses.
Along with exposing my patients to less radiation, the iPad will provide a more precise x-ray picture to make diagnoses even more accurate.
The iPad is here to stay in my operatory room.
Mark Burhenne DDS
What do you think of iPads in the dental chair?
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