As we say farewell to 2023, the Dental Solutions team is looking ahead to some exciting dental trends on the horizon.
From the increased reach of artificial intelligence (AI) to the use of very good dogs in the dental office, here are four trends we’ll be keeping our eye on in 2024.
As one of the hottest topics of 2023, it was hard for a day to pass without seeing at least one headline related to AI. And as the technology grows in leaps and bounds, the ways everyone from doctors to content creators are using AI is moving forward at a rapid rate.
In 2024, you can expect to see continued advancement of AI in the dental industry as well. But we’re not talking about robots conducting a root canal: AI can help dentists provide improved diagnoses and offer options for less invasive care. Plus, AI can assist with 3D printing services to make implants, crowns and orthodontic devices to make construction more precise and tailored to the patient.
But AI in the dental industry isn’t just about how you receive care: it’s also how dental offices communicate with patients. Look for chatbots to play a bigger role in helping you set up appointments and answering basic oral health questions.
Despite the name, a dental therapist is not a counselor in the way a mental health professional is. Rather, they are more akin to a physician’s assistant: a licensed utility player who can provide a range of preventative and restorative care, including:
- Cavity fillings
- Making mouthguards
- Polishing teeth
- Replacing crowns
- Dental prosthetic repair
- Providing oral health advice
The first dental therapists were introduced by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in 2004. Since then, 13 states have authorized dental therapy in some or all settings. In addition, over a dozen other states and Tribal governments are in the learning stages of authorizing dental therapists.
Look for more states to authorize dental therapists in 2024 to help underserved people and communities.
Dental therapy dogs
Picture this. You’re at the dentist’s office, waiting for your appointment to start when you feel a gentle nudge on your hand. You look down and meet the sweet, gentle gaze of a dog who has been trained to sense when you are anxious. When you pet its fur, you can feel your nerves melt away, making you more comfortable during your appointment.
If that scenario sounds like a dream, then we’ve got good news for you: an increasing number of dentists are utilizing certified therapy dogs in their practices.
With more than 61% people worldwide suffering from some degree of dental anxiety (including one out of three Americans), dentists are meeting patients where they are to help reduce stress and make them more comfortable coming in for important oral health care. One of those tactics is the use of therapy dogs, thanks to their sweet dispositions and ability to unconditionally love.
Watch for more four-legged friends to join dental teams across the country in 2024.
In a post-pandemic world, telehealth is here to stay. And even though dental offices across the country are resuming business as usual, look for practices to continue to employ teledentistry into 2024.
Technology like digital radiographs, photos and videos, electronic health records and internet connectivity can help dentists facilitate oral health care remotely. From routine check-ups, consultations and even minor procedures, dentists can provide care to patients who may not have been able to receive it otherwise.
And for underserved communities, such a low-income areas and rural towns, teledentistry can make oral healthcare more affordable and accessible.
The bottom line: The dental trends we are keeping an eye on in 2024 all benefit patient care and we are excited to see how they advance throughout the year.