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Why You Should Be Using iPads in Your Dental Practice

The following is a guest post by Dr. Edward Logan, DDS. If you are interested in guest posting for Dental Heroes, please sign up here.

My business manager recently purchased an iPad for her family’s use to replace a laptop and provide a communication device for her son who has a communication disorder. It has been fascinating to see the role that this iPad technology is playing in the lives of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders and communication disorders. Her enthusiasm over its usefulness has led her to look into the uses of an iPad within a dental office.

Patient Education Tool

With the iPad’s ability to quickly display pictures it can serve as a patient education tool, providing your patients with the opportunity to view photos of their smile in the palms of their hands. Yes, the display of these pictures can also be accomplished on a laptop, computer monitor or mounted TV so this usage alone certainly doesn’t justify the purchase of an iPad. However, some dentists have noted that their patients seem to react better to the “cool factor” of holding an iPad while viewing their photos.

Useful Dental Apps

The main reason to purchase any of Apple’s iProducts is to take advantage of the applications available for virtually every area of life. Are there any iPad apps designed for dental practice management or patient education? A quick browse of the iTunes store displays several dental specific apps, but you can rest assured that many more apps are in the works. One app that is receiving great reviews is DDS GP which was created by a practicing dentist to be used for patient education. This app includes demonstrations of many common dental problems and their treatments. The demonstrations include drawings, but no video or sound, which allows the dentist to explain the patient’s specific case while showing possible treatments. The DDS GP app allows dentists to add their own photographs and design treatment plans which can be printed or emailed. Dentists who use this app for patient education are raving about its’ effectiveness.

Charting Tool

Many doctors, and a large number of dentists, have transitioned to using tablets for their medical and dental charting. With the release of the iPad in 2010, several dental practice management software distributors have been working on an iPad based charting app. EdgeEHR, which offers dental practice management software for use with the Mac operating system, has launched a touch based charting application that integrates with edgeDMS. The edgeDMS app allows for dentists to use the iPad to chart and check patient history. This app integrates with the edgeDMS software and can share information with other Mac computers running edgeDMS.

Potential Pitfalls

As I consider whether this new technology would be helpful to my office, I have a few concerns. The first concern is about durability of the iPad and the possibility that it could get bumped or dropped in a dental office. To decrease my worries, I believe I would want to purchase an Otterbox Defender series case before introducing the iPad into my office. The Apple Warranty does not cover drops, bumps or spills, but other companies offer extended warranties that cover these occurrences. I’ve never been one for expensive extended warranties, but I might consider a warranty from a company like Square Trade to cover these possibilities.

Your Thoughts

Do you believe there’s a place for iPads in your practice? If your office is already making use of the iPad or considering purchasing one, please comment below with any tips or advice you may have for others.

Reader Comments

  1. Alex Shalman January 18th

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    Hi Dr. Logan, and Cory. I’m a 2nd year dental student at NYU, and I’m a huge tech enthusiast. Once I start working in our family practice, I’m definitely going to integrate things like iPad for patient education.

    Thank you for the article :-)


  2. Dental Technology March 28th

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    I have seen the iPad used for displaying digital X-rays to a patient. It definitely affected the experience of the patient in a positive manner. An educated patient is a better patient; having them hold an instrument and see what the dentist is viewing on their monitor, is a major plus in today’s technology.


  3. Liz Chapple June 17th

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    Take a look at myDentalScore.com. It’s a simple patient self assessment tool which gives indicative risk and disease scores for perio, caries and oral cancer. It can be used on ipads in reception to get patients thinking about their oral health before they come and talk to you.


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