No-risk investments

Sept. 1, 2003
At my overhead control lectures, dentists always ask me a very important and basic question — "Should I invest in new equipment, such as lasers...

Louis Malcmacher, DDS

At my overhead control lectures, dentists always ask me a very important and basic question — "Should I invest in new equipment, such as lasers, fast curing lights, educational systems, and the like?" There is no one easy answer to this question, but let me give you some of the principles we use in our office when evaluating new equipment. Using a common-sense, logical approach to evaluating equipment before making the investment can help raise your production dramatically and reduce your overhead at the same time.

The "time is money" principle

Saving time = saving money! Anything that saves you time in the office during a procedure will directly result in saving you money. This is probably the most important principle to use for evaluating new equipment. For example, let's take a look at a piece of equipment from the clinical aspect. A new, fast curing light, whether it's a plasma arc light or an LED curing light, will help you cure your composite resins anywhere from five to 10 times faster.

According to a study done by Gordon Christensen and Clinical Research Associates published in the Journal of the American Dental Association in July, 2000, "Practitioners who have switched to the fast curing lights report that they will not go back to using typical curing lights, and continuing on [with typical curing lights] will cost you up to $40,000 a year." There is no question that investing in fast curing lights is a reasonable and wise financial investment. They will pay for themselves in a matter of weeks.

By the way, your hygiene department should have a fast curing light as well. Hygienists are much more motivated to do sealants on six- to 12-year-olds when they only need a five-second cure for a sealant as opposed to a 40-second cure.

One-hour whitening has been an incredible investment for dental offices that have gone this route. New-patient flow often increases dramatically because these "one hour" patients have the potential to become patients for the long term. In addition, if the light that comes with the bleaching system also can achieve high-speed curing, you have the best of both worlds in terms of overhead control. There is no better investment in new technology than a piece of equipment that can accomplish multiple tasks. This truly gives you the best bang for your buck.

Different tools for different jobs

Although educational systems and intraoral cameras are certainly valuable tools and assets for the dental office, they do not fall into the "time is money" principle. Why? Because this category of equipment has a different job to do — they can help motivate patients to accept treatment. Many dentists have difficulties with case presentation. That's where these devices come into play beautifully. An educational system or set of videos that patients can view in your office or take home and watch at their leisure can be an indispensable tool in this regard. The intraoral camera — clearly showing patients their dental problems and needs — can be a great motivator as well.

Commitment is key

The bottom-line answer to whether you should invest in new equipment can be found right there in the mirror — it absolutely and ultimately depends on you. Any new technology can be worth its purchase price if (and only if) you are committed to learn how to effectively use your investment and proactively train your staff so the equipment becomes thoroughly integrated into your practice. However, if you have unrealistic expectations and think that just by placing an intraoral camera or laser into your office you'll gain $100,000 in new production, then you are just wasting your money; worse, you are wasting your time. And, time is money!

Dr. Louis Malcmacher is an international lecturer and author known for hiscomprehensive and entertaining style.An evaluator for Clinical Research Associates, Dr. Malcmacher is a consultant to the Council on Dental Practice of the ADA. For close to two decades, Dr. Malcmacher has inspired his audiences to truly enjoy practicing dentistry by providing the knowledge necessary for excellent clinical and practice-management skills. His group dental practice has maintained a 45 percent overhead since 1988.For details about his speaking schedule, Dr. Malcmacher can be reached at (440) 892-1810 or via email at [email protected].

Sponsored Recommendations

Clinical Study: OraCare Reduced Probing Depths 4450% Better than Brushing Alone

Good oral hygiene is essential to preserving gum health. In this study the improvements seen were statistically superior at reducing pocket depth than brushing alone (control ...

Clincial Study: OraCare Proven to Improve Gingival Health by 604% in just a 6 Week Period

A new clinical study reveals how OraCare showed improvement in the whole mouth as bleeding, plaque reduction, interproximal sites, and probing depths were all evaluated. All areas...

Chlorine Dioxide Efficacy Against Pathogens and How it Compares to Chlorhexidine

Explore our library of studies to learn about the historical application of chlorine dioxide, efficacy against pathogens, how it compares to chlorhexidine and more.

Enhancing Your Practice Growth with Chairside Milling

When practice growth and predictability matter...Get more output with less input discover chairside milling.