Dental News

Dental offices go virtual

Friday October 8 ,1999 6:22 PM ET

NEW YORK , Oct 08, 1999 (Reuters Health)– The Internet is opening wide dentists’ offices — much of the business of a dental office may soon be conducted via computer, according to a report presented Friday at an American Dental Association (ADA) meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii.

As a prelude to the Association’s 140th Annual Scientific Session and Technical Exhibition, the organization sponsored a ”Technology Day” to give dentists an opportunity to “learn how to incorporate and utilize the latest technology in their dental practices,” according to an ADA press statement.

Dr. Robert M. Pick cited several examples of how the Internet can benefit office practices. For example, e-mail may represent a convenient way for patients to contact the dental office for appointment scheduling or to fill out time-consuming paperwork such as medical history and insurance forms.

But cutting through the office red-tape is not the only practical advantage offered by electronic communications. Pick is also a proponent of video conferencing via the Internet, a strategy he demonstrated to program attendees.

“With a patient in the dental chair, I can use this (computer, live digital camera, and Internet) set-up to do a consultation,” Pick said in the press statement. For the purposes of this session, Pick joined a colleague in Chicago to demonstrate how a virtual consultation on periodontal surgery might be accomplished.

What Pick terms “an incredible tool” can be employed with relative ease, he contends. “A dentist needs (only) the right size and speed of computer, a high-speed Internet access, software… and a digital camera,” he explained in a statement.

The ADA maintains a website at to provide the public with information about a variety of dentistry-related topics, as well as a database of practicing dentists.