We are very lucky to be living in the year 2006, especially when it comes to the dental profession. What we can do now for patients is really unparalleled in human history in terms of restoring patients’ biologic, biomimetic, and functional capabilities while also providing them with excellent aesthetic results. What is also unparalleled is the amount of new dental material, technology, and equipment that is available to the practicing dentist. It is incredible just in terms of the sheer volume of what becomes available on a weekly basis.
How do you decide what dental products to incorporate into your practice? How do you know what will work with other products, what is compatible in terms of chemistry, aesthetics, and dental materials? How do you find information about that new piece of equipment or technology to determine if it’s right for your practice? What is the best way to compare products so you can see what is the best choice for your patients at the most reasonable price?
These are all questions that we ask on a daily basis, and this article will help you find some of the answers.
Illustration by Brian C. Green
THE INFORMATION SOURCE…THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Thankfully, the World Wide Web has made it quite easy to acquire a lot of the information we need to answer the above questions. Let me share with you some dental Web sites that can really help you cut to the chase in getting the answers you need. You can have the information you need to make a decision literally at your fingertips within minutes if you use these easy Web sites.
Clinical Research Associates (CRA) has an excellent Web site at cranews.com. Most of you know CRA quite well. Drs. Gordon and Rella Christensen founded CRA and are still actively involved on a daily basis. Their motto, “Clinical success is the ultimate test,” just about says it all. CRA also does basic scientific testing on dental materials, so you can check the different physical properties of the dental materials you are using. It is very important that more than 300 evaluators who are practicing dentists use these products in their offices on actual patients. These clinician’s valuable feedback really helps rate the products as to their effectiveness. I’ve been lucky to be associated with Clinical Research Associates for many years, and I can tell you this has been one of the most valuable additions to my dental practice and my professional growth as a dental educator. A day does not go by where I do not check the CRA Web site. In addition, the independent evaluators’ ratings and comments are invaluable in helping me choose whether something is right for my patient’s treatment plan or my practice philosophy.
The Dental Resource Center from Sullivan Schein is also an excellent addition to any dentist’s Web bookmarks. It can be found at drcdental.com. This site is a subscription Web site where you can not only get important information on dental products, but can actually learn how to use many new products or techniques with the Center’s continuing education offerings. The animation is very lifelike on many of its continuing education modules, so you can get a real feel for what using some of the newest products available will be like. More than 100 continuing education credits are available, and it is a convenient and cost-effective way to train your employees. The Dental Resource Center then gives you easy click-throughs right to a manufacturer’s Web site or lets you easily go to your Sullivan Schein cart to add a product for purchase. Dental Resource Center is a complete and powerful resource for every dental practice.
Dentalcompare.com, the online buyer’s guide for dental professionals, provides your office with product and service information, all online and in one place. This is a new service provided by dentists for dentists. You no longer need to search through catalogs for products now that this service is accessible to you 24 hours a day without cost or registration. Online at dentalcompare.com, you will now be able to find quickly the products for your practice, and you can focus on treating patients with the time you save.
At the heart of dentalcompare.com is its robust product directory, 15,000 products deep, including the following categories: restorative dentistry, endodontics, oral surgery, orthodontics, periodontics, digital imaging, and more. The dental products are the stars of this Web site, which is what makes it so valuable to every practicing dentist. Each product section on dentalcompare.com provides detailed product information with specifications, images, product reviews, links to suppliers’ Web pages, information request forms (which allow users to contact suppliers and receive information directly from them), quote request forms, catalog numbers, and vendor contact information. The site also boasts professional product reviews, product editorials, literature updates, new-product profiles, and informational product videos. Many of these are written by dentists who have used these products and techniques, and their e-mail addresses are available if you have a question.
Users can also compare products by selecting multiple products within the product directory and then selecting the “compare” button. Information is displayed in a side-by-side matrix format, allowing dental professionals to evaluate accurately specifications and features among multiple products and manufacturers. For me, this is the most valuable feature of dentalcompare.com. This is similar to the consumer Web sites where you can compare digital cameras side by side, so it is very intuitive to the user, since you have probably used this feature on other Web sites.
Dentalcompare.com also provides some of the best e-mail newsletters in the industry. These newsletters are a great way for dental professionals to stay updated on the latest news, subspecialties, technologies, literature up-dates, events, and promotions from suppliers. Newsletter categories include the following: dental news, digital imaging, endodontics, aesthetic dentistry, general dentistry, oral surgery, orthodontics, periodontics, practice setup, and restorative dentistry.
Dentalcompare.com facilitates enhanced product research and discovery by allowing dental professionals to find the best product for the treatment of patients’ oral health. While other Web sites concentrate on product sales and distribution, this Web site focuses on providing accurate and comprehensive product information, filling a much-needed niche.
Every dental office should have Internet access. At this point in time, it is crucial to your daily practice of dentistry. Consulting these Web sites can help you make more informed buying decisions as you wade through the sea of dental products out there and decide what is best. The Web sites listed in this article, as well as other sites, can help every dental practitioner make the right choices for their dental practice, and more importantly, for their patients.
Disclosure: Dr. Malcmacher is a consultant to Ultradent, SS White, and Den-Mat.