Who’s Zooming Who?

By Larry Darnell, FDA Director of Information Systems

The title refers to an Aretha Franklin song and the first time I heard it, I struggled to understand what that even means (it refers to checking someone out). Now it has a new meaning. I remember just a month ago, the FDA Board of Trustees had their first Zoom video call. It seemed like such a novelty then — almost like watching a Brady Bunch intro with squares of talking heads. Little did we know then that this novel way of communicating would now become the standard for so many of us.

In the last month, so much has changed thanks to COVID-19 and our response to it. The saving grace for us is that our technology is up to the task in most cases. My daughter needed to see a doctor for a minor illness. Thanks to telehealth, she “saw” the doctor and got a prescription called in the same day. My wife is a teacher and she has at least weekly and sometimes daily video interaction with her students via technology. I’ve even attended church services virtually through Facebook Live. A different world indeed.

This year, we had a few employees at the FDA who could work remotely. Now, everyone is setup with that ability. It’s a challenge to work remotely, but at least we have that option. There are a few things to remember in this new Zoom Age we’re in now.

First, remember to communicate with others. While social distancing may be around for a while, communication is still essential. I admit, despite my technology background, I like face-to-face communications better. There are so many obvious physical and non-verbal cues you can pick up on in person that are missed when the contact is virtual. However, we have to now relearn the art of communicating intent through texts, emails, phone calls and even through video sessions. Communication now is intentional and likely requires more effort, but do not cease to do it. When communication ceases, people are left to doubt, question and become fearful. Be honest, kind and as positive as you can be.

Secondly, get to those projects that have been “when I get around to it” things. For me, that means clean up my email inbox, organize our shared company file system and review our websites. I do these when they become emergencies, but seldom think of them when other things are happening. It allows you to stay productive and prepare for the time when we’re able to return to our new normal.

And lastly, do not lose your spirit of volunteerism. Dentists are caring and giving people. It saddens me that the Florida Mission of Mercy was postponed, but it was the only option. There are so many other ways you can volunteer. People still have needs. I’m helping my wife’s teacher friends with technology. I’m advising churches who are forced to go online how best to do it. I am assisting my daughters’ friends who now take all college classes online. I’m using my gifts to benefit others. I’ve always wanted to help others, and I’m not going to let COVID-19 stop me from doing just that.

The Value of a $10 Gift Card

By Larry Darnell, FDA Director of Information Systems

In light of Facebook’s personal data issues several months ago, there are more things out there that we never even think twice about. What about the innocent looking email that asks you to fill out a simple survey for a $10 gift card or perhaps a chance to win a larger prize? Most people never give those a second thought. You fill out that survey and even if you use a throwaway email address (with so many free email services, you can create one that you hardly ever check and use for just such an occasion), you still provide valuable data to the company or the people who sponsored the survey. The value of your personal information is much higher than you think.

There’s already so much data mining (personal data compiled into a profile about you) going on. One day my wife and I were talking about backpacks for a trip; the next day my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Amazon shopping feeds were flooded with ads related to backpacks. So, who gave them that information? I never Googled it. Alexa heard me and so did Siri. Talk about Big Brother listening to me! I wanted to break out the tinfoil hats and go off the grid for a while.

We provide so much personal information when we use the internet, smartphones and tablets, and don’t even realize it. Facebook didn’t even have to try very hard. Several quizzes about which Kardashian you resemble and we have given up a lot of our personal information for free. So, what are we to do in the aftermath of this?

Here are five things to remember:

  1. Guard your personal information. There’s no need to give it away for nothing, and trust me, $10 is a bargain for your personal data. Are those $10 gift cards worth the risk?
  2. Never assume there are private communications on a public internet. Anything you put on the internet (social media, email, etc.) can and will be seen, heard and shared with others. This includes Snapchat and other sites that say they are “secure.”
  3. Use all security measures that are afforded to you by the devices you use. If that means encrypted emails or a virtual private network, then use them. Be careful about using open Wi-Fi (a password isn’t required to use it). Nothing is free, and although open Wi-Fi may appear free, it could cost you greatly in the end.
  4. Keep a tight rein on your personal brand. If that means regular credit bureau checks, services that monitor “risky” websites for your data or even staying off social media altogether, then do what is necessary to protect yourself. Once your identity is stolen, it’s nearly impossible to get it back.
  5. Treat your virtual world like you would your real world. If you would not do or say something face to face, in person, then why do it in a virtual world? If a stranger showed up at your door asking a slew of questions, you’d probably slam the door in their face. On the internet, we give them what they want and more.

Bonus tip: The next time you install an application on your smartphone, visit a website or use software on your computer, take a moment and read the terms and conditions that you blindly click to accept. You’ll be shocked by what you are agreeing to without even considering the consequences.

This article first appeared in Today’s FDA, July/August 2018, Vol. 30, No. 5.

3 Solutions for Payment Processing at Your Dental Practice

By TransNational Payments

Between scheduling appointments, filing paperwork and coordinating staff, operating a dental practice can be stressful. Add to that the responsibility of selecting the right treatment and procedures for your patients, and the last thing you want to worry about is how you and your colleagues will get paid.

Fortunately, there are effective solutions for payment processing at your dental practice that can give everyone something to smile about.

Credit Card Terminal
A credit card terminal is a stand-alone device that enables your patients to pay with their credit or debit cards. It’s a very common option in dental practices today — in fact, you may have one at your reception area right now. But, do you know if it’s EMV-compatible?

EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa), a standard behind chip cards, is a must for all businesses that want to enjoy secure payment processing and avoid liability for fraudulent transactions. When it comes to your dental practice, security is key, especially considering all the confidential patient information you handle daily. This one-time upgrade is simple and can protect your payments for years to come.

Mobile Payments
It’s 2018, so why should you or your staff be stuck at the front desk when processing your patients’ co-pays? It’s time to give your staff and your clients the flexibility of mobile payments! Here are just some of the many benefits you can experience:

  • faster payments — complete transactions in just a few seconds
  • shorter lines — reduce the wait and increase customer satisfaction
  • stronger security — keep the cardholder information safe and sound
  • diverse features — enjoy real-time reporting and paperless receipts
  • reasonable price — get modern payment processing without breaking the bank

Getting started with mobile payments is just as simple as using them. All you need is a mobile device, such as a smartphone or a tablet, a card reader and a mobile app that lets you perform, save and manage transactions at the palm of your hand.

Recurring Billing
Payment processing isn’t hard, as long as you approach it in a smart way. If you have patients visiting the office on a regular basis, there’s no need to request their credit or debit cards each time a payment is due. Instead, ask them if they want to enroll in recurring billing. If they agree, you can use your payment gateway to select the transaction amount and the frequency of withdrawals. This is a great way to give your patients an excellent visit experience and help your practice achieve a steadier cash flow.

Recurring billing also is something worth looking into for your personal payments. It’s no secret that dental school debt is sky-high right now, averaging $287,331 as of last year. Some of the best advice for loan repayment includes consistent and timely installments. With recurring billing you can achieve just that, all while avoiding late fees and penalties.

Don’t let your existing payment processing make a dent in your dental practice. At TransNational Payments you can enjoy the transparent interchange plus pricing structure and work with dedicated account managers committed to helping you lead your dental practice to success. Experience payment processing made simple today!

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21st Century Laser-assisted Dentistry

By Dr. Anthony Cardoza

Over the last 29 years, I have witnessed many technological advances in dentistry. Some of these advances have included computers throughout the office, digital X-rays, digital intra-oral photography, loupe and microscope magnification, and CAD/CAM technology, just to name a few. One of the most significant technological advances has been the evolution of the dental laser, and it’s this technology that’s really firing my passion for dentistry.

Lasers have been used in dentistry for several decades, but during the last five years they have become widely accepted and now tens of thousands of dentists in the U.S. and around the world have implemented lasers. Market acceptance of dental lasers is rapidly growing at a level where digital imaging was five to seven years ago.

In my practice we have several lasers for both hard- and soft-tissue applications, which are used for a wide range of procedures. It’s well-established that different procedures require different laser wavelengths. Wavelength is important because specific body tissues (chromophores) interact in different ways depending on the laser source. Therefore, it’s important to use the proper wavelength that is tissue-specific for the procedure.

The following are a few of the laser procedures performed in our office every day and the clinical advantages they offer our practice and, most importantly, our patients.

The near infrared diode laser has become my laser of choice for hygiene and soft tissue. It’s extremely effective for hygiene procedures such as laser bacterial reduction (LBR) and laser de-epitheliazation during scaling and root planing. Additionally, it’s excellent for soft-tissue surgical procedures such as frenectomy, gingivectomy, fibroma removal, and gingival retraction for crown and bridge impressions.

The most versatile laser I have is the erbium mid-infrared wavelength hard/soft-tissue laser. I use this laser several times a day for no-shot, no-drill cavity preps. My patients love being able to avoid having shots and post-op numbness. This laser gives me the ability to quickly and effectively remove decay, and often these restorations weren’t scheduled, but discovered during hygiene examinations. We can complete these procedures in one appointment and avoid the inconvenience of rescheduling the patient. With my erbium laser I can perform these procedures fast and often without anesthesia.

In addition, by lengthening the pulse duration, I also can perform many soft-tissue and bone procedures. Procedures like apicoectomy, gingivectomy, osseous recontouring and laser periodontal surgery are examples of treatments performed with the erbium laser.

Finally, lasers are now being used during endodontic treatment in the form of laser activated irrigation to greatly reduce bacteria and debris found in the canals without a net thermal elevation within the canal. Lasers also are now being used for snore reduction. The role of lasers in dentistry is continuing to increase as we see ongoing research in both lasers and their use in various applications in dentistry. The decision is no longer whether to add a laser to your practice, it’s just a matter of which laser will best fulfill your needs.

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Cordoza Photo (3)

Cordoza Photo (2)

 

Dr. Cardoza will be speaking at the 2018 Florida Dental Convention in Orlando in June. On Thursday, June 21, “Dispelling the ‘CSI Effect’ Myth” will be at 9 a.m., and “Dentistry’s Role in the Mass Disaster Scenario, Child Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence Recognition,” will be at 2 p.m. later that same day. On Friday, June 22, his workshop, “21st Century Laser-assisted Dentistry” will be at 9 a.m. with a repeat of the workshop at 2 p.m. To register, go to floridadentalconvention.com.