If you're reading this, it means you know how to use technology to learn about your dental health. Many dentists now offer one more tool to help: an interactive patient education system. This type of dental technology brings the latest dental treatment information to you on the small screen -- right in your dentist's office!
More screen time may mean better dental health for you down the road. When you know just how serious things can get without attention, you're likely to visit the dentist early, when dental problems are less severe. Plus, when you understand your dental treatment, how procedures will be performed and how to care for yourself at home, you'll probably feel less dental anxiety.
Watch and Learn
An interactive patient education system isn't as complicated as it sounds. This type of dental technology allows you to watch a video to learn about your proposed treatment. The system usually comes in a DVD format and can be shown on a TV or computer monitor in your dentist's office. Some dentists set up viewing in the reception area, where you can learn about the types of dental services offered in that particular office. More specific content related to your dental care is chosen by your dentist and can be viewed chairside. All you need to do is sit back, relax, watch and learn!
There are several companies offering some type of interactive patient education system, each providing different features. The more complex dental patient education systems feature videos, animation, still photos and even 3-D graphics. All kinds of dental topics are covered -- from a dental bridge, dental crown and dentures to services provided by a pediatric dentist, orthodontist and cosmetic dentist. The videos usually explain why a certain type of dental procedure is needed, treatment options, what the treatment entails and self-help techniques for at-home care.
Visualize Your Care
In the past, patients had to rely solely on their dentists to explain the care they needed. Sometimes this was enough, but sometimes it wasn't. After all, dental procedures can seem scary and you might not be able to understand much more than the name of a treatment -- let alone why you need it and how exactly the procedure will be performed. The result? You might just avoid the treatment altogether, most likely leading to bigger problems later.
An interactive patient education system is no substitute for speaking with your dentist. But it gives you a chance to visualize what your dentist is describing. Not only will you be able to watch a video that explains and shows you the problem, you'll also find out why it happened in the first place. Armed with this knowledge, you may feel comfortable enough to ask your dentist questions to make sure the recommended treatment is right for you.
Taking in a lot of information all at once can feel overwhelming. That's ok! Many interactive patient education systems provide handouts you can take home and review. Some even allow the dentist to create a copy of what you watched to take home. Even if you initially decide not to have a proposed treatment, you may change your mind later. The important thing is that once you're informed and understand your options, you're more likely to seek out the treatment before the situation gets serious.
If you're not sure if your dentist uses an interactive patient education system, ask about it the next time you visit the office.