Amateur Photography Has its Place, But Amateur Radiography Does Not

Everybody loves snapshots and selfies, but if your practice approaches radiography as if it were amateur photography, there could be trouble ahead. Florida law requires anyone who performs radiography to be certified to do so. Patient safety is a significant factor driving the need to have a certified radiographer behind the X-ray camera. Dentists need clear, concise radiographs in order to evaluate the integrity of teeth and roots, and determine treatment needs. Radiographs taken by an untrained person compromise a practice’s ability to deliver the oral health care patients deserve.

Getting dental assistants trained in radiography is now an easy process, thanks to the Florida Dental Association’s (FDA) Online Radiography Training Program. Putting dental assistants through this training enhances their skill sets, provides the valuable professional development they need and want, and keeps your practice in compliance with the law. The online radiography program is thorough, interactive and provides foundational knowledge paired with hands-on experience. Here’s how it works.

First, the supervising dentist creates an account at mydentalradiography.com and completes a brief tutorial about how the training works and their related responsibilities. Once the dentist’s tutorial is completed, which takes about 20 minutes, training vouchers for their assistant(s) can be purchased. Each voucher costs $285 for an FDA-member dentist. Non-members pay $385. When the voucher is purchased, the dental assistant that voucher is assigned to receives an email advising that he or she has been enrolled in the training.

The assistant follows the link in the email to create an account and get started. The training is completed online at the student’s convenience. Start and stop at will, and the program remembers where the student left off. Do it by smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. There are nine sections in the course and each section has a quiz. Once all modules have been completed, the student takes an online test and passes it with a score of 80% or more. There are unlimited retakes! After the test is passed, the dental assistant has one more challenge: Successfully exposing a set of full-mouth radiographs, including four bitewings, under the supervising dentist’s supervision. There can be up to five retakes.

Two more steps to go and the assistant is licensed!

The supervising dentist logs into his or her account and signs off on the full-mouth radiographs for the student to receive a certificate of completion. The certificate is always available in the student’s account.

The student then submits the certificate of completion to the state of Florida, which issues its certification.

To get started, visit mydentalradiography.com and click “Florida Dental Association.” To learn more and review the frequently asked questions about this program, go to floridadental.org and hover over “Continuing Education.” Then, click on “Radiography Training Program.” You also can call the FDA at 850.681.3629 and speak with Judy Stone for additional information.


Reprinted from Today’s FDA, March/April 2021. Visit floridadental.org/publications to view Today’s FDA archives.

So, You Want to Buy a New Computer?

By Larry Darnell, FDA Director of Information Systems

Lately, there has been a greater need to have better computers. Perhaps it’s because so many more people are working from home or more students are doing virtual education. In fact, I get asked this question at least once a week within my network of influence. In response, I have some questions to ask them: What do you want to do with it? What is the purpose? Do you want it to be portable or will it stay at the house? These are critical questions to answer for yourself. Other questions arise, too. Do you want a laptop or a desktop? Would a tablet or a Chromebook meet your needs? How much do you want to spend? Usually, the answer becomes clear just from this initial questioning.

If you are looking to work from home or you have students doing virtual school, the answer will generally be a laptop. Why? Because it’s portable, flexible and most laptops can do what you need. I’m sure you’ve seen advertisements for Chromebooks, and they’re economically priced. A Chromebook is essentially an internet-only computer where the browser is the operating systems (as opposed to a Windows or a Mac operating system). Chromebooks have their uses, primarily in educational settings, where the subset of applications are solely internet-based. If you want to install other applications that aren’t browser-based, you’re going to want a laptop.

What about a tablet? Tablets are more powerful, but they’re restricted to applications that run on the tablet (either Android or Apple IOS). You can use a tablet like a laptop, but there are obviously things a tablet cannot do. If you can accept those limitations, then a tablet might work.

Why not a desktop? Well, if you plan on seldom moving your computer and have no plans to pop down to the coffee shop with your desktop in tow, then that could work. However, most people want the flexibility to have their computer be mobile, thus, a laptop is a better choice. You also can buy accessories like dual monitors and external keyboards and mice to make your laptop have that desktop feel.

Now that I have sold you on a laptop (cha-ching!), what more do you need to know? Size matters. An 11-inch laptop and a 17-inch laptop are just that different. An 11-inch screen may be too small to see, and a 17-inch laptop may be too heavy to easily lug around. You must do what is right for you based on how you plan to use it. Go to a store where you can see them and pick them up. You don’t have to buy from there, but you can try out the look and feel.

Should you choose Windows or Mac? That question often is a matter of personal preference and money these days because Macs and PCs mostly can do the same things. A Mac is more expensive but quite honestly, requires less maintenance by the user. I bought a Mac for my wife years ago because I was tired of spending all my free time fixing her Windows PC. A PC is significantly less expensive and for some, that alone is the deciding factor.

What about all those letters and numbers and two and three letter abbreviations? Those things matter, since you’ll want a better processor. If it’s an Intel processor, they go from I3 to I9 and generally, the higher the number, the better. Same is true with RAM — 4 GB will never be enough. You need at least 8 GB of RAM, and preferably more. Your hard drive size isn’t as important as it used to be, and there’s now solid state drives (SSD) that are fast but have limited capacity. You always can add an external drive to store files, but you need to get enough hard drive space to store applications, so 256 GB is a minimum for a hard drive.

Video capabilities also matter. Laptop video cards are underwhelming, so look for one with a better video card, also measured in gigabytes of RAM.

Another factor to consider is the number and type of ports the laptop has on it. You need at least three USB ports and an HDMI port for video output capabilities. All laptops have wireless capability built in and some have a standard network jack as well. If you are concerned, look at the battery life as well.

One of my recent tricks of the trade is to buy gaming laptops for everyday use. They come with more than enough processor, RAM and video capabilities to play high-end games, but that also means they can do all that you want, too.

If you have time to make a purchase, I also recommend you get it from a reputable seller. The cheapest one on Amazon Marketplace may not be the best option for you. Google the make and model number you are interested in and see what people are saying about it. There are manufacturers I won’t buy from just because of the reported problems. You can look at back-to-school or holiday specials but often, they’re selling a lower-class PC with limitations. Caveat emptor.

I admit the options and information can be overwhelming, but remember, you will use this computer every day. We all know a computer can be the greatest source of frustration imaginable, so do your research, get what you need and revel in the joy of how much easier this purchase has made your life.


Reprinted from Today’s FDA, Sept/Oct 2020. Visit floridadental.org/publications to view the Today’s FDA archives.

4 Tips to Maximize Your Disability Benefits

By Scott Ruthstrom, FDA Services Chief Operating Officer

Dentists understand the importance of purchasing a quality disability income insurance policy, but are you ensuring you receive every dollar you’re eligible for? Not having enough disability income or saving a few bucks by passing on available options and riders can make a tremendous financial difference.  Should you fall victim to an accident or an extended illness, be sure you have your financial well-being fully protected.

1. Max out the total monthly amount you can financially qualify for.

Typically, disability insurance (DI) benefits are calculated as a percentage of your total gross income. One hundred percent of total gross income replacement is not available, so having the maximum benefit you are eligible for will help ensure that, in the event of a disability, you can maintain a lifestyle post-disability that is comparable to your pre-disability lifestyle. Even if you max out your benefits with one insurance company, you may be able to buy additional benefits through a second or even a third policy (depending on the amount of coverage in place already and your annual gross income).

2. Make sure your DI policy can grow with you.

Many carriers offer options/riders that allow you to increase your monthly benefit without having to retake medical exams or physicals; you only have to prove you qualify financially.

3. The fact is, one in three dentists will have a disability over the course of their career.

A dollar today is not what a dollar will be worth five, 10 or 20 years from now. A “cost-of-living adjustment” rider (COLA) is a great way to ensure your DI policy will be able to keep up with inflation. The COLA rider will adjust the monthly benefit each year while on a claim.

4. Since most disabilities are temporary in nature, purchasing a “residual disability” rider is vital.

This rider is designed to help offset the loss of income when returning to work following rehabilitation or recovery, as it could take months or even years to return to pre-disability income levels.


FDA Services is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Florida Dental Association (FDA). We strive to be the source for information about insurance for our member dentists. Revenue from insurance sales goes directly toward helping FDA programs and lobbying efforts that are important to members, and to keep dues at their lowest possible level.

Our experienced staff is ready to get to work for you — call or text 850.681.2996 or email insurance@fdaservices.com to connect to our agents today. Visit fdaservices.com/disability for more information.