3 smart ways to upgrade your radiography in today’s economy

Bryan Delano, co-founder of Renew Digital, discusses creative techniques for investing in innovative technologies


Today’s high-tech world demands advanced state-of-the-art equipment – both inside and outside the general dental and specialty practice. Numerous studies have shown that dental professionals who reinvest in their practices with modern technology tend to be leaders in their respective fields with increased production and higher profits. The challenges of our current economy, however, can often limit a practitioner’s practical and financial ability to adopt these innovative products and services. The use of creative purchasing techniques and tools such as Section 179 tax deductions and financing, trading in your current X-ray, or purchasing used or refurbished systems can help minimize the impact of upgrading and keeping up with current imaging technology.

IRS Section 179 Deduction

Historically, one of the easiest ways to realize immediate savings on capital dental equipment purchases is through the IRS Section 179 deduction. This incentive allows business owners to deduct the full price of purchased, financed or leased qualifying depreciable equipment and software for the current tax year. The equipment purchased or leased must be within the specified Section 179 dollar limits and must be placed into service in the same tax year that the deduction is taken. In recent years, the size of the deduction provided an exceptional opportunity for dental practitioners to upgrade, modernize, and invest in their practices.

Prior to the economic downturn following the 9/11 tragedy, Section 179 allowed for a deduction of up to $25,000 of qualifying depreciable property used in trade or business activities. To help boost the economy through increased spending in manufacturing and technology, the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Act of 2003 increased the Section 179 deduction limit from its annual ceiling of $25,000 to $100,000. The annual deduction limit was further increased in 2007 to $125,000 and then again in 2008 to allow for an annual deduction of up to $250,000. It was revised significantly in 2010 to allow a maximum annual deduction of up to $500,000 for tax year 2011 and then dramatically reduced the deduction back to an inflation-indexed $125,000 ($139,000) in 2012. Starting in 2013, the annual deduction limit under Section 179 is scheduled to return to its pre-2003 $25,000 level (see Figure 1).

As a result of these significant upcoming changes to Section 179 deductions at the end of this year, dental practitioners should contact their tax advisors to discuss the benefits of acquiring depreciable business assets, such as dental X-ray and cone beam systems in the remaining months of 2012.


The introduction of dental cone beam and the release of newer generations of these systems have created a previously unprecedented trade-in value for 2D panoramic digital X-ray and first generation cone beam units. Due to this demand, several reputable companies have surfaced that purchase, refurbish, and sell used dental X-ray equipment, allowing practitioners to recoup a portion of their initial investment by selling or trading their panoramic or cone beam systems. Often, these funds can be provided to the practitioner directly upon removal or sent to the equipment dealer or vendor to apply to the down payment of the new unit. Used equipment dealers can also work directly with the new equipment vendor to coordinate removal of their existing system with the implementation of the new unit, minimizing office “down time” or loss of production.

The fair market value of used dental X-ray and cone beam equipment, like that of used vehicles, depends on several factors such as the unit’s make and model, age, condition, and exposure count. Included hardware and networking components such as cephalometric capabilities, ethernet connectivity, and multiple sensors can affect the system’s value. Additional features such as extraoral bitewings, touch panel controls, and other upgrades can also impact the purchase price.

Some practitioners opt to sell their existing equipment on their own in an attempt to achieve the greatest profit. However, these transactions often result in improperly licensed software, missing parts, and non-transferable warranties. Plus, delicate X-ray components can be easily mishandled in removal, shipment or installation, resulting in expensive repairs. All of these issues, combined with lost production while managing the process, can be more costly and time consuming than initially anticipated.

Refurbished equipment

Many practitioners have chosen to purchase used or refurbished equipment that is current generation or only one generation behind. This strategy can offer a significant cost savings on more advanced 2D digital panoramic systems, 2D/cone beam 3D-hybrid units, or cone beam 3D scanners.

Companies that offer used and refurbished dental X-ray systems can often provide the “new” product experience with up to 50% savings off the cost of new equipment. This equipment is typically inspected at time of pick up, refurbished as needed at the company’s warehouse, thoroughly tested again, and resold in an “almost new” condition. They then coordinate product delivery and installation – including the latest imaging software, conduct on-site training, and provide after-purchase service and support. Some companies even include comprehensive product and manufacturer’s warranties.

Because refurbished X-ray companies are “vendor neutral” and have access to a wide variety of models, they can help practitioners select systems that best fit their practices, regardless of manufacturer. They can also help find previous generation models to “match” X-ray systems in primary offices for secondary locations, minimizing staff learning curve and software integration issues. Because they are equipment resellers, these companies are also often willing to take existing 2D digital equipment as trade-ins for more advanced 2D or cone beam systems, further reducing the purchase price.

For increased affordability, used or refurbished X-ray equipment is eligible for certain low-interest financing programs and Section 179 tax deductions.

There are many ways in which modern dental and dental specialty practices can benefit from innovative imaging technologies – and numerous ways to incorporate them, even in today’s tough economic landscape. Implement your smart X-ray upgrade plan today!

Bryan Delano is a co-founder of Renew Digital, the leading provider of refurbished dental X-ray systems. With more than a dozen years in dental technology experience, he has held key management positions at Carestream Dental (KODAK Dental Systems), 360imaging, and topsOrtho. His extensive background includes practice management software, dental X-ray technology, implant planning and patient education. Mr. Delano lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and two children.

About Renew Digital
Renew Digital is the leading provider of quality refurbished panoramic X-ray and cone beam 3D systems to dentists and dental specialists throughout the U.S. and Canada. Since all systems include delivery*, installation, training, and a comprehensive warranty, Renew Digital offers dental professionals the features and reliability they need to deliver superior patient care more affordably. Visit www.renewdigital.com or call 888-246-5611 for more information. *Continental U.S. only.

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