May the force be with you

Our industry is aggressively converting to CAD/CAM technology. This seems to be very exciting and promising to the dental industry as a whole. Restorations that used to require many visits appear to require fewer. Those that were challenging or problematic appear to be easier. Where quality was difficult to achieve, accuracy now appears to be guaranteed. And what was expensive appears to be more affordable.

In some ways, all of these statements are true. CAD/CAM technology, like other digital technologies, is a wonderful advancement that enables us to do things we could not have previously imagined. Along with the benefits, however, it has its challenges.

Look at how our lives have changed in the last 30 years. Digital technology has made our lives so much easier . . . or has it? Prior to the 1980s, we used typewriters and ledgers for our bookkeeping and office management. Computers and word processing software promised to make these responsibilities easier and more cost-effective by eliminating the need for carbon paper and streamlining our office systems. And mostly, that promise turned out to be true: We no longer have to manually type all of our invoices and statements, and we can now compose letters, memos, and other documents without those clunky typewriters.

Before computers, however, we did not have to worry about software crashes, viruses, hacking, data corruption, never-ending software upgrades, or the cost of new computers in an ever-changing world of technology. If you were to evaluate the time and cost of continually upgrading modern computer technology, you would be quite surprised about how much more time and money we pay for our present-day office management systems. In no way am I suggesting that we go back in time to pre-1980s technology, of course; I am just suggesting that we keep in mind the investments and responsibilities that are required for adapting to the digital age of dentistry.

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