Dental Health Trends in Texas
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Texas Dental Trends
Texas is home to several sprawling metropolitan areas, each of which offers access to premium dental health care. From Dallas to San Antonio and Laredo over to Houston, there is no shortage of providers ready to serve the people of the Lone Star State. Many of them are setting the pace for new standards in Texas dentistry, including the new trends that are sweeping the state. Although some aging practices remain firmly anchored in the past, others are embracing the new wave of modern dentistry, which is beginning to look very different than the antiquated techniques and equipment of the past. Continue reading to learn more about the changing face of Texas dentistry and what you can expect to see in technology and the availability of dental implant services in the years to come.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tooth decay is the single most common childhood disease in the United States, and Texas is no exception to this rule. Although overall dental health has seen major improvements in the last half-century, dentistry and oral health are still seeing some changes.
How Technology is Changing Dentistry in Texas
Technology’s role in the dentist’s office is no longer an accessory, but rather it is quickly becoming the foundational component from which modern Texas dentists are building their practices. For example, it is already becoming more and more difficult to find dental practices that have not switched over to digital x-ray systems, which feature less radiation and easier diagnostic analysis. Patients are also starting to complete their paperwork online, making for faster appointment times and cutting down on in-office paperwork and the need for complex filing systems.
With cloud-based solutions, dental and health specialists can quickly communicate with one another and send x-rays and other important patient information between offices with the touch of a button. In some cases, secured patient portals even allow for secure messaging between the provider and patient, as well as the ability to view patient file notes online.
In the dental chair, technology is re-shaping how dentists perform diagnostics, carry out procedures, and cooperate with patients in developing personalized treatment plans. For example, CAD/CAM imaging and manufacturing technology makes it possible for dentists to eliminate the messy process of creating oral impressions and sending them off to labs with lengthy return times. This cuts down on costs, brings complete procedure processes into the dental office, and also reduces the number of visits necessary for patients. This technology trend is becoming so mainstream that is not only available in big cities like Dallas, but also in smaller towns like Tyler, Sugar Land, and Galveston.
Dental payment technology is another focus in Texas right now. This is due to a number of factors. First, there are a rising number of self-employed individuals who are now responsible for paying for their own dental care. In addition, younger patients are embracing streamlined account processing with an emphasis on mobile payments and cloud-based services. In keeping with the trend, many Texas dental offices are opting for in-office payment plans, with some large group practices even opting for in-office plans that mimic the benefits of dental insurance. Some offices are also staying ahead of the trends by developing customized practice apps that allow for push-notifications, in-app appointment confirmations, and easy one-touch payments.
From a marketing standpoint, Texas dentists are beginning to utilize more digital platforms in exchange for the traditional print advertising solutions of the past. With sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram commanding the attention of billions around the globe, these are easy outlets for creating new ‘buzz’ about a practice and producing organic traffic sources. Providers can also use these platforms and the wide-reaching Google advertising platform to purchase ads that are specifically targeted at potential patients looking for dental services and providers in the local market.
The Changing Face of Dental Professionals
One major shift that has taken place in the last 60 years is a movement away from the small, two-person dental office that used to be the norm. In 1950, the typical composition of a dental office was a practicing dentist with a single assistant: of all the dental professionals working in the country at that time, just over half were actual dentists. By 2012, the total number of professionals working in dentistry had increased by nearly 600%, but only 20% of these personnel were dentists, representing a huge increase in dental hygienists and other support staff.
The Move Toward Preventative Care
In the mid twentieth century, the field of dentistry revolved around disease-based care: the majority of a dentist’s work was responding to and correcting dental problems experienced by patients, such as filling cavities and extracting diseased teeth. Diseased teeth were common, with the average child in 1971 having roughly 7 teeth that were diseased, filled, or missing. Thanks in part to the widespread addition of fluoride to the country’s supply of drinking water, that number had fallen to 2 by 2004.
In addition to fluoride, the last few decades have seen a shift in public attitudes toward dental health: the latter half of the twentieth century saw more Americans becoming diligent about their oral health and scheduling regular dental check-ups and cleaning, although that upward trend seems to have leveled off in the early 2000s. Coverage of dental services under health insurance has also increased, making regular care an affordable option for more Americans. As a result, the overall focus of dental practice has shifted from the treatment of disease to preventative measures that enhance overall oral health and decrease the likelihood of experiencing disease later on.
The Dental Needs of Older Adults
Now more than ever, older adults are at the core of a dental practice. Due in part to the general increase in dental care and health across the population, fewer young people are seeking treatment for dental problems. As the incidence of childhood tooth decay falls, that trend of improved oral health carries over into adulthood, leading to a generation of young patients who overwhelmingly rely on preventative care. At the same time, older adults who did not have access to such preventative treatments in their early years continue to experience problems, along with those exacerbated by the aging process.
Dry mouth, periodontitis, and root and coronal caries are common dental issues for older adults, and the impairments to memory and cognition that sometimes accompany aging can make it increasingly difficult for some seniors to maintain regular self-care dental habits like brushing and flossing teeth. Prescription medications and co-occurring medical conditions can also impact a patient’s dental health and their response to treatment. Because aging patients may show increased sensitivity to anesthetics and other drugs used in dentistry, great care should be taken when treating older adults.
Digital Systems: Better, Faster Treatments
Dentists that use digital impressions, 3-D printers, smart sterilizers, or practice holistic dentistry are seeing an upsurge in new patients. Dentists who stay ahead of the curve and provide patients with these new options not only provide a better patient experience, these technologies make dental appointments shorter and allow more patients to be treated within the same time frame – a worthy investment.
The Importance of Dental Health
The immediate consequences of poor dental hygiene are decaying teeth and gum disease, but the reality is that poor oral health can have far-reaching consequences. Illnesses that affect the immune system may increase the risk of oral health problems, and gum disease may lower the body’s defenses and play a role in the development of some other diseases. To connect with patients who are interested in their dental health, a powerful online presence has become more important than ever for dental practices. Contact our experienced team at Solution21 to see how to make your dental practice more visible.
Dental Implant Trends in Texas
Though dental implants have existed for many decades, it has only been in the past 10 to 20 years that they have become a mainstream option for permanent tooth replacement. Improvements in technology and techniques have paved the way for greater and greater success in the placement of these artificial tooth roots, and word is spreading about the long-term benefits of dental implants compared to alternative solutions.
With traditional options, missing teeth are replaced with topical crown replacements – often dentures or bridges. This leaves the space beneath the gums vacant where the tooth root once stood. Over time, the bone that surrounded the root begins to deteriorate, which can cause changes in facial appearance and also affect the fit of a patient’s dentures. With dental implants, these problems are resolved by placing an artificial tooth root inside the jaw bone where it fuses with the surrounding bone. The new ‘root’ prevents the erosion of the bone and also becomes a strong anchor for topical prosthetics, such as crowns, dentures, and bridges.
Mini dental implants are also gaining some popularity in the Lone Star State for a number of reasons. First and foremost, they are less expensive than standard dental implants, making them more accessible for uninsured patients and those with limited funds. Mini dental implants are also smaller, meaning they are less invasive than traditional implants and can be placed in smaller spaces and bones with less density. That means the patient can potentially avoid bone grafting prior to the procedure, which significantly cuts down on the treatment timeline. As an added bonus, mini implants are often paired with mini dentures, which cover less surface area in the mouth and make for a more pleasant and complete tasting experience when eating.
Although the placement of dental implants can be considered a complex treatment, technology is constantly evolving to create better treatment outcomes, improve patient comfort, and potentially shorten treatment time. Right now, a large percentage of oral/maxillofacial surgeons prosthodontists, and periodontists in Amarillo, Waco, Austin, Midland, Corpus Christi, Fort Worth, and other Texas cities are offering dental implant treatment protocols. However, the aging Baby Boomer population in Texas is expected to put pressure on more general dentists to begin offering the service, too. Since there are more general dentists than specialists and the prevalence of missing teeth increases with age, there is no doubt that the dental implant industry will continue to grow and expand in Texas in the coming years.