Dental practitioners and a digital future: an initial exploration of barriers and incentives to adopting digital technologies

Br Dent J. 2013 Dec;215(11):E21. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2013.1146.


Background: Digital technologies are proliferating into dental practices. While their technical attributes have often been studied, it remains unclear why some dentists adopt and use these technologies more than others. AIM To explore the incentives for and barriers against accepting and using digital dental technologies.

Method: Eleven semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with experts in dentistry, dental technology and dental education in the Netherlands.

Results: Dentists' acceptance and use of digital technologies are to varying degrees driven by the perceived advantages over analogue methods, perceived influence on treatment quality, dentists' personal and professional orientation, and social influence from peers and external groups. These effects are complemented by personal and dental-practice characteristics.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that there are large differences in motivation to adopt and use digital technologies between early adopters, late adopters and non-adopters, which should be examined in greater detail. We recommend that educators, dentists, and representatives of the dental industry who deal with the diffusion of these technologies take account of dentists' widely different attitudes to digitalisation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Dentists*
  • Diffusion of Innovation*
  • Netherlands