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Everyday Dentistry

Issue: Fall 2010
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What is the definition of “Everyday Dentistry?” We use this term all the time. In lectures, everyone wants to teach us techniques we can use in “Everyday Dentistry.” Sales people want to sell us products that can be incorporated into “Everyday Dentistry.” So how do we define this term and how can we achieve success in Everyday Dentistry? I define Everyday Dentistry as controlled mayhem, because there is no “everyday.” Each day is different, each day is a new challenge, some days are great and some days—we can’t wait for them to end. A great day is high-quality Dentistry, staying on schedule, and happy patients. Unfortunately sometimes we have days when impressions are difficult, restorations need to be redone, patients show up late, keeping us behind schedule, and—certain patients just can’t be made happy.

With technology, we can change our Everyday Dentistry into “Extraordinary Dentistry” by providing better, more predictable outcomes to the challenges we face—every day.

So how can we create more great days, reduce our bad days and make Everyday Dentistry better. Technology helps us improve the quality of care we provide for our patients and technology in Dentistry has come a long way. I learned basic principles and the technological advances of the times 25 years ago in dental school; however, a lot of these advances have gone by the wayside. Today’s advances vastly outnumber those of 25 years ago. So as Dentistry constantly evolves and technology advances, which technologies offer the most when practicing Everyday Dentistry. How do we determine the value a certain technology has, not only from a cost basis, but also an ease of use, learning curve, and predictability of outcome points of view. Some technologies make life easier, some technologies make us more money—but all technologies should help us provide better care for our patients.

Buccal Frenom Before
Buccal Frenom Immediate Post-Op

One technology I feel provides all these advantages is laser technology. Although lasers come in all sizes, types, and costs, I would like to concentrate on soft-tissue diode lasers. Lasers have evolved over the years although many misconceptions still remain. This has prevented numerous practitioners from visualizing the benefits this technology has to offer. I often think of 12 years prior to purchasing my first laser and how I perceived laser technology—too expensive, too few uses, questionable patient acceptance, and numerous other excuses. Luckily I took the plunge and have never looked back. Yes, there were a few times when I questioned my abilities (There have also been a few times I questioned whether I wanted to be a Dentist!) and yes, there was a learning curve but Everyday Dentistry is all about change—changing and improving the quality of care provided to our patients. It’s also about updating our thought processes, keeping us interested and motivated in our profession.

Fibroma Before
Fibroma right after removal shot
Fibroma Post-Op

So how can soft-tissue laser technology change the way we practice and how or what do we have to do to be successful at incorporating this technology into our Everyday Practice? I like to look at any new technology as an adventure. Too many times we are uncomfortable with change, yet change is what makes life better. So we have to keep an open mind. If your laser doesn’t do what you want or you don’t get the desired result, it’s probably not the laser, it’s probably the operator, remember any new technology has a learning curve, so be open-minded, be innovative.

So what can soft-tissue lasers do? Probably a lot more than you think. First, diode lasers can cut and shape soft tissue, which gives us the opportunity to remove lesions, (fibromas), release frenoms, recontour gingiva, and trough around crown preps. Usually this can be accomplished with little bleeding, minimal collateral tissue damage, and better healing. Unlike an electro- surge unit, diode lasers can be used around crowns, ortho brackets, and implants. Diode lasers can also be utilized to whiten teeth. Diode lasers seek pigment so it makes sense that they would be effective at removing pigment and stain in the whitening procedure. I feel the results are similar or better than any in-office whitening system available, with less sensitivity and a shorter appointment time. (I have seen great results in as little as ten minutes utilizing a laser to whiten teeth.)

Laser Whitening Before
Laser Whitening After
TMJ Treatment Still Image

Certain diode lasers are FDA approved to help treatment of TMD and facial muscle pain. Diode laser can actually penetrate tissue and increase blood flow, decrease edema, and aide in healing. Although diode lasers have been used for many years in treating muscle and joint pain, this could provide another avenue in treating our patients. Diode lasers have been used to help treat periodontal disease and certain studies have shown better results and advantages of utilizing a diode laser in conjunction with scaling and root planning. These studies have shown reduction in bleeding on probing and reduced pocket depth. Other uses for diode laser include treating aphthous ulcers, desensitizing teeth, pulpotomy procedures and, best of all, removing inflamed excess tissue that makes taking your crown impression impossible.

So when we look to technology, we expect a lot—better, faster, easier, but don’t forget our patients; patients have come to expect technology. Old-fashioned Dentistry is the material of outdated jokes, not patient care. If we provide better care, we get better results, better Post-Op, and happier patients. Diode lasers can provide quick healing, less need for sutures, and pain relief. As Dental professionals, we can also know we are providing the latest in technology and taking part of this exciting revolution in patient care.

So, when we hear the term Everyday Dentistry and think of the norm of what we do, let’s think of how we can change it. Everyday Dentistry denotes an unexciting day-to-day existence of providing Dental care for our patients, hoping each day turns out positively, but starting each day wondering if it will. With technology, we can change our Everyday Dentistry into “Extraordinary Dentistry” by providing better, more predictable outcomes to the challenges we face—every day.