|By David Eshom, DDS|
Practicing dentistry in today’s economic climate is as challenging as it has ever been in the 25 years I have practiced. The stress of presenting needed and elective treatment to fewer patients can sometimes seem overwhelming. To survive and thrive in these challenging economic times a dentist must do like businesses outside dentistry and diversify. Diversify means to provide more products that answer our patients’ needs under one roof so they can say yes to health and beauty in your office.
Laser dentistry is a great way to please and impress your patients when it comes to treatment acceptance, operative dentistry, hygiene, and cosmetic dentistry.
Over the last 8 years I have invested in dental lasers, and that has increased the diversity of my dental product offerings and helped me weather the economic downturn. I have lasers in my hygiene rooms and in my operatory, and I am thankful for the extra production, comfort and results they provide. Dental lasers are the ultimate in minimally invasive treatment and impress each patient that they touch.
Let’s go over the multiple applications of lasers in every dental office starting with the new patient exam. Take the time to tell the patient they are in a special dental office. Show them the lasers or pictures of the lasers you have to use for their benefit (stressing the patients’ benefits) when they walk in to your practice or exam operatory. This is easily done by the team while taking a health history or X-rays. Patients have been exposed and impressed by laser eye surgery for years, and now they can be impressed by your office’s up-to-date and comfort- centered laser equipment. Less than 10% of dentists practice laser dentistry and you should differentiate yourself as someone special. This all helps build trust and patient acceptance during your new patient exam.
When your exam is done and you explain treatment options, lasers will help your patient decide in favor of treatment because you can do regular dentistry more comfortably and in a minimally invasive manner. Starting with operative dentistry, you can tell your patients’ that their cavities can be worked on without a local anesthetic. Patients hate the needle and the whining dental handpiece. The Biolase Waterlase MD Turbo all-tissue laser allows me to do over 50% of my operative dentistry without the need for a shot. Patients love having a filling done without a sting and a poke, the sound of a drill, and a numb lip. More treatment acceptance and referrals will result of being able to say there is often no need for a shot or drill during treatment.
Not all laser dentistry needs to be done by you. Your hygienist can provide laser comfort, treatment acceptance, and additional production as well. Often the hygiene department becomes a place where people get “just a cleaning.” Diode lasers give the hygienist an exclusive tool to make your office stand out in the patient’s mind. Your hygiene department can provide dental health care and optional laser disinfections on top of routine prophylaxis. Medical professionals and general public now accept that the same bacteria that causes plaque in mouths causes plaque in arteries. Diode laser dental therapy kills nearly 100% of bacteria in periodontal pockets. That is better for your patient’s gums and heart. On top of conventional root planning, laser de-epithelialization and decontamination give your hygienist a tool to get better healing without subgingival drugs and the security of a extremely successful bacterial kill. When properly explained and understood, patients will pay out-of-pocket for this more effective method of fighting gum disease. Suddenly your hygienist is excited and your production increases because this new product “diversification.”
Cosmetic dentistry was a “diversification” for dentistry 15 years ago. Dental lasers help you be a more diversified cosmetic dentist. Often, over 50% of my cosmetic cases can be enhanced by laser gum contouring and even osseous contouring. Gingivectomy and closed-flap cosmetic crown lengthening take your smile makeover and veneers from good to great. This laser (Waterlase MD Turbo) method can be done the same day as your prep and temporaries. The gums heal while your patient feels nothing during or after the procedure. Laser gum recontouring keeps the patient and revenues in your office. The cosmetic result is better because the gum contours are correct, which makes your veneers symmetrical. This procedure could not be done in 2 appointments because doing it surgically would necessitate waiting at least 6 weeks for healing. Cosmetic dentistry and lasers are a match made in heaven for your practice.
Practicing in a challenging economic climate requires the doctor to be creative and use business principles outside dentistry to survive and thrive. Laser dentistry is a great way to please and impress your patients when it comes to treatment acceptance, operative dentistry, hygiene, and cosmetic dentistry. Lasers provide a way to diversify your practice and keep your patients in-house, which enhances your bottom line and keeps your practice healthy as well.