Crypto, Meet Dental

March 08, 2018

A Quick Take on Dentacoin

With all the craze surrounding the boom and bust (and boom?) of cryptocurrencies, it should come as no surprise that the dental industry has gotten in on the action. Starting in early 2017, a slow rollout of Dentacoin has taken place. Billed as a blockchain-based solution for the dental industry, Dentacoin promises to build a decentralized future for dentistry.

At their heart, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin rely on blockchain technology to distribute a ledger of transactions, meaning that no middleman controls the flow of information or has the potential to restrict access to the currency system. (This is why many fear that cryptocurrencies facilitate illegal, black market transactions.) It also means that the network is more secure, and isn’t as vulnerable to a system-wide crash if any individual is compromised.

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Dentacoin is looking to leverage blockchain technology to change the dental field altogether. The Dentacoin team wants to be much more than another cryptocurrency focused on paying for visits to the dentist- they’re angling to build a decentralized infrastructure for all things dental.

And that starts with patient reviews. Patients can receive Dentacoin in exchange for contributing to the broader dental community, and the most obvious way to do that is to rate and review your last dental appointment. Patients will ultimately be able to receive Dentacoin for other tasks as well, such as brushing their teeth or flossing.

Ultimately, Dentacoin can serve as the ledger for everything from patient payments to electronic health records and insurance databases. Dentacoin has outlined such a plan and timeline in a white paper, available for view on its website. It plans to be the central repository for all things dental.

What I find most interesting about Dentacoin aren’t its ramifications for the dental world, but rather its implications for blockchain and cryptocurrency. Its basic premise implies that we won’t have one universal cryptocurrency- we’ll have different ones for different uses. And rather than just being used for the exchange of currency, cryptos will be expanded in function to apply to a host of aspects in each industry, and potentially interact with one another in a matrix of combinations.

To some, it’s a reminder that nothing is as easy as cold, hard cash. If you have to transfer Bitcoin to Dentacoin to retrieve your dental records and pay the dentist, what’s the point? Where’s the added efficiency from your perspective? Just bring a wad of cash instead.

To others, though, it represents the opportunity of a decentralized blockchain ledger in every industry, this one helping to blaze the trail for others. And in an age with blockchain instead of middlemen, all information can be secured, guaranteed, and easily accessible. In theory, at least.

Adoption of Dentacoin seems to be picking up steam in 2018. Several New York-based practices began integrating Dentacoin into their workflow. This past week, Dentacoin announced that Floss Bar, a startup focused on making dental care easier, is joining the Dentacoin ecosystem as well. The news gives Dentacoin a potential foothold in the largest city in the United States.

We’ll see what happens to cryptocurrencies, and Dentacoin in specific, as we move past the recent bubble and burst. Perhaps Dentacoin is a glimpse of a decentralized future. Or perhaps it’s just one more misguided crypto.

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