Education and technology continues to elevate interdisciplinary care

Editor’s intro: Improving clinicians’ ability for education and technology will result in better communication with patients and colleagues and lead to better patient care. 
Jon Irelan, DDS, MS

With ever-advancing treatment modalities and technology, our path as clinicians and educators continues to evolve. Traditionally, for a healthcare profession that utilizes multiple specialists in conjunction with general care providers, a certain degree of communication breakdown is inherent to dentistry. While the discussion of treatment plans between providers is largely accomplished with the aid of study models, radiographs, and conversation, the ability to involve the patient and other clinicians in specific procedures has always been limited to postoperative descriptions. However, as new means of documentation and communication arise, as clinicians we can educate patients and one another like never before.

Advancements in 3D imaging allow us to approach endodontic issues with greater certainty, allowing us to more fully understand why an issue has arisen, and why it is presenting as such. This advantage, in addition to the ability to discuss these images with patients in real time using computers stationed in the operatory, furthers our capability to educate the patients about their unique clinical situation. This is vital for not only obtaining a truer informed consent from the patient, but also furthering the principals of patient autonomy and joint decision-making.

Just as effective a tool for educating patients and our colleagues as 3D imaging, advances in microscopy have continued to revolutionize our clinical practice. While few endodontists could argue that the advent of microscopy has vastly improved our diagnostic, surgical, and orthograde treatment abilities, it is now shaping the way we communicate with one another. Important documentation of clinical findings was made possible by mounting SLR cameras using a beamsplitter and camera adapter, allowing for intraoperative information to be collected. Clinicians now had an opportunity to refer to additional image data during correspondence with colleagues. However, in addition to a decrease in available light source for the operator, organizing and viewing of images made in real time was not ideal using this technology. We now have microscopes such as the ZEISS EXTARO 300, which offers the opportunity to display photographs and live video feed wirelessly to an iPad®. With this technology, patients can readily see important visual information in real time, whether it is a crack or some other significant finding. Besides aiding our ability to better educate our patients, it allows for efficient decision-making with the patient mid-appointment if a prognostic concern arises. Also improved is the ability to communicate quickly with referring colleagues, as this feature allows for snapshots to be emailed directly from the application.

The end result of an improved means of communicating with patients and our fellow colleagues is the greater ability to educate others on the treatment possibilities that endodontic procedures offer. By improving our ability to evaluate the clinical situation surrounding a tooth before, during, and after potential treatment, clinicians can better predict the prognosis. This means an improved understanding of when endodontic treatment is indicated and appropriate, and what potential complications might arise during and after treatment. By refining our ability for case selection and documentation, we also improve our ability to educate our colleagues and patients on the viability of modern endodontic orthograde treatments and microsurgery.

Dr. Jon Irelan

Having a 3D imaging option gives clinicians more ways to share education and technology with patients and peers. Read more about 3D imaging in Dr. John Khademi’s article, “The CS 9600 CBCT System: Five advanced features you didn’t know you needed, and how they benefit your patients.”  

Jon Irelan, DDS, MS, MS, received his BS and DDS at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as well as an MS in Prosthodontics and an MS in Endodontics from Marquette University. He continues as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Endodontics at his alma mater. Dr. Irelan lectures nationally and internationally on topics including complex treatment planning and advanced restorative procedures, as well as maintaining a private practice in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin.

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