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By Prof Dr Asaad Javaid
In recent years, the field of dentistry has undergone a significant transformation globally, with technology playing a key role in reshaping patient treatment methodologies. While Western countries have been at the forefront of embracing modern technological advancements in dentistry, the potential for similar progress in countries like Pakistan is on the horizon, promising improved accessibility and affordability.
The integration of technology into dental practices has brought about both positive and negative impacts on treatment costs. However, quantifying the exact effect on expenses proves challenging, given the complex interplay of factors such as practice size, technology adoption rates, and geographic location.
For smaller dental practices, incorporating cutting-edge technologies entails substantial initial investments in equipment procurement, training, and maintenance, presenting a notable challenge. Moreover, certain technologies, such as 3D printing or CAD/CAM systems, require specialized materials and software, often accompanied by licensing fees, further exacerbating the financial burden on dental clinicians, particularly in countries like Pakistan where costs are typically denominated in US Dollars.
Nevertheless, it is crucial to recognize that while some technological advancements may lead to increased upfront clinic expenses, they also offer opportunities for long-term cost reduction and enhanced affordability. Certain innovations, while not directly lowering treatment costs, enhance diagnostics, treatment efficacy, and overall patient experience, thereby potentially preventing future issues and resulting in sustained cost savings over time.
As technology continues to advance, it is anticipated that the costs associated with these technologies will decrease, making them more accessible to dentists across practices of all sizes.
The implementation of Electronic Treatment Records has streamlined record management, communication, and care coordination among healthcare providers, potentially leading to reduced administrative costs in the long run. Additionally, advanced imaging techniques and AI-powered tools can aid in early issue detection, paving the way for less invasive and more cost-effective treatments.
Digital impression systems eliminate the need for physical molds and casts, thus saving on materials and laboratory charges. Furthermore, the integration of digital scanning with CAD/CAM and robotic assistance streamlines procedures, minimizes errors, and reduces chair-side treatment time, resulting in significant cost savings.
The adoption of technology by Pakistani dental practitioners is influenced by factors such as affordability, awareness, and the availability of training opportunities. Economic considerations play a pivotal role in this decision-making process. Dentists who are cognizant of the benefits of technology and have access to relevant training opportunities are more inclined to embrace these advancements in their practices.
To ensure that future dentists are adequately prepared to benefit from technological advances in the dental sector, it is necessary to integrate modern technology into the dental curriculum. This initiative will equip dental students with the requisite skills and knowledge to meet the evolving demands of contemporary dentistry, both in terms of practice and patient care.
Achieving this integration necessitates a collaborative effort involving educators, policymakers, dental school administrators, and curriculum developers, all working together to shape the dentists of tomorrow.
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