In the dental industry, where person-to-person contact is required, safety is the top priority for both patients and dental staff amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Dental Association (ADA) reported a 38% decrease in dental spending in 2020, and as COVID-19 cases continue to spike, the ADA predicts an additional 20% decline in dental spending in 2021.
But, as the dental industry continues to experience challenges, these 2021 dental industry trends may shine a light for dental practitioners around the world.
Improved patient engagement
With stay-at-home orders still being implemented around the world, dental professionals are leveraging the power of social media and other online platforms such as websites to engage their patients. Using these platforms allows you to connect with your local community, share useful information, and to establish and nurture relationships with new and existing patients.
For example, you can use Instagram Stories or TikTok to create and share short and real-time ephemeral content with your patients and followers. This, in turn, encourages your followers to quickly engage with your content before it disappears. This is also a good way for you to collect new leads.
3D printing in dentistry will continue to rise
The use of 3D printers in dentistry has been rising steadily over the years and this trend is expected to continue in 2021. 3D printers are currently being used in every aspect of general dentistry, prosthodontics, and implantology. They are also being utilized to develop customized devices to aid patients suffering from sleep apnea.
As 3D printing technology continues to advance, you'll be able to create and deliver customized prosthetics to your patients faster than ever. So, if your dental clinic still doesn't have a 3D printer, now is the best time to invest in one.
Dental providers have turned to technology to stay connected with their patients during the pandemic. Teledentistry allowed patients to interact with their dentist without leaving the safety of their homes. It became a vital part of dental care during the pandemic and is expected to be more widely adopted this year.
The ADA even created a policy on how and who can use teledentistry. The policy states that it's the responsibility of the dentist to document procedures properly, provide a high and consistent level of care, and protect their patients' privacy using only video conferencing software approved by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
Chatbots for patient support
Dental professionals have been reluctant to use chatbots because of privacy concerns when collecting patient information. However, with advancements in chatbot technology, dental offices can now leverage chatbot technology without compromising the privacy of their patients. Healthcare experts predict that by 2025, chatbots will be worth over $700 million.
Chatbots can be installed on social media sites, patient portals, and websites to provide enhanced patient support such as:
- Oral health guidance
- Scheduling and canceling appointments
- Reporting and diagnosing symptoms
- Medication support
Routine dental procedures like treating damaged gums and filling cavities require invasive and oftentimes painful surgery. The thought of experiencing pain is one reason patients are reluctant to visit a dentist. The good news is, there are some dental practitioners who are starting to use laser surgery to make treatments less painful. Aside from reducing pain, laser surgery can also:
- Minimize bleeding
- Promote faster healing
- Reduce the need for sutures
- Kill bacteria
Using laser surgery is a good way for your patients to overcome their fear of pain when undergoing dental treatments. In fact, Research and Markets predicted that the dental laser market will grow by as much as $190 million between 2020 and 2024.
Is your dental clinic ready for 2021? These trends are all geared toward providing better care and service to your patients, and it's up to you to determine which ones to adopt to enhance your practice. If you're not sure where to start, you should partner with a trusted managed IT services provider like Pact-One. Our dental IT experts will help you implement the latest dental trends so you can take your practice to the next level. Call us today to learn more.