Dental IT: Not for the Faint of Heart

Digital Technology Partners is excited to bring you the second edition of DTP Tech Talk. In a follow up to our discussion on ‘Shadow IT’, we wanted to talk about some additional topics and explore the comparatively complex world of Dental IT and the reasons that it presents an even larger challenge for practitioners and IT providers than an equivalent small business in a different field. 

Put simply: The dental industry seems like it is under an outright assault from the multitude of technologies, vendors, and regulations that place demands on a dental office’s Information Technology resources. When compared to a small business in a different market space with equivalent revenue and employee count, the complexity is several notches higher for Dentistry.  

There are four main components of the dental IT environment that not only offer several product options, but are all co-dependent on one another, whether they were developed with the other top of mind … or not. Let’s dive into what these are.  

1) Imaging Hardware

One of the most visible reasons that IT complexity is elevated in dentistry is because of imaging hardware. The list is pretty exhaustive: IO cams, caries detectors, 3D scanners and printers, 2D panoramic x-ray units, and a whole myriad of 3D modalities and machines. Every one of these pieces of technology ends up connected to either a computer or the network, with some offices needing the functionality enabled across many or all stations. 

The advent of 3D technologies in Dentistry is helping practitioners deliver next generation care, and requiring next generation hardware. The basic system requirements for computers accessing 3D imaging are also increasing rapidly as of late. (Those machines are also physically growing, while the space allotted for them in an operatory or dental cabinets seems to be shrinking!) 

2) Software Packages

All of the hardware mentioned above feeds diagnostically critical information into one of many software packages – sometimes multiple packages for either 2D, 3D X-Ray, 3D spatial scanning, as well as interoperability with dental labs or in house mills/printers. Combined with practice management software, a typical dental office now utilizes 3-4 critical business line applications on average. 

3) 3rd Party Integrations

On top of all the software used to run a dental practice, there is no shortage of 3rd party integrations and services: Reporting and business intelligence tools, patient communication packages, review and feedback platforms, insurance verification and claims tools, artificial intelligence addons, just to name a few – all syncing and interfacing with your business line applications 

4) Secure Remote Access

Covid opened the door to remote work for many industries, and dentistry was no exception. Many offices now have work-from-home staff or are utilizing outsourcing services to tackle the back-office tasks. Remote access requests and provisioning terminal servers or other solutions is now a frequent part of dental IT. 

We Know, It’s a Lot. That’s Why We’re Here. 

Suffice it to say, there’s a lot going on in a typical dental office these days – and while some vendors have the interest of the practice at heart, many are just after their next sale. For this reason, an IT partner who is a true Dental Integrator is critical. 

We encounter practices that have been tied up in knots by vendors selling into the practice: multiple instances of the same imaging database irresponsibly set up, purchases of new hardware or software while not addressing the web of compatibility requirements, critical items not being backed up, compliance issues like having workforce members use the console of a server as a workstation, the list goes on. 

That’s why it’s imperative to proactively include our team in IT-related conversations and look to us as a trusted advisor when it comes to the tech in your practice. We are happy to collaborate with you by assessing and recommending the best product or software for your unique set-up and needs, as well as planning the best course of action for implementation.  

We hope you enjoyed this edition of DTP Tech Talk. If you have a specific subject matter you’d like covered, drop us an email at! 

Subscribe to Digital Technology Partners Blog for Cybersecurity Tips