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Office of the month

Aug. 1, 2003
Technology and teamwork leads a pair of San Antonio dentists to total patient care.

By Dr. Joe Blaes, Editor

Dr. Little (far left) Dr. Crocker (far right), and team.
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This month, we spotlight an office located approximately five miles east of San Antonio, home of a Texas shrine, the Alamo. To Texans, the historic landmark honors individuals of vision and determination. Such traits still exist in a smaller venue, the dental practice of Drs. David A. Little and Justin J. Crocker, Professionals in Dentistry. The office facility itself, replete with scenic views of a pond and easy access to total patient care, stands as a personal symbol of Dr. Little's vision to offer a variety of specialties under one roof. This distinctive practice ultimately provides a broad range of complete dental care to its patients through a team approach. Dr. Crocker joined the burgeoning practice in 1999 as an associate and is now a full partner with the man who inspired him, while in high school, to pursue a career in dentistry.

Together, they live the vision by integrating a full-service practice with dynamic, cutting-edge technology for the existing community around them and for new patients beyond the immediate area. "Our vision," Dr. Little succinctly states, "is to provide total patient care through a quality team of dental professionals and on-site laboratory services." To the team, "total patient care" even extends to split-shifting to offer more options to the patient and to maximize the use of the facilities.

The vision becomes a reality, both Dr. Little and Dr. Crocker acknowledge, because of the people who make up the team — specialists and staff who are the heartbeat of the office. Rotating seamlessly to the building from their main offices are Dr. Lynn Hurst and Dr. Tyler Ferris, orthodontists; Dr. Kent Hamilton, periodontist; and Dr. Stephen Buckley, partner with Alamo Maxillofacial Surgical Associates of San Antonio. Dr. Doug Leitch provides endodontic services.

Along with the various specialists is a highly motivated team of professional women who collectively bring to the practice over 128 years of experience. This team-within-a-team focuses specifically on patient-centered care, a focus that has helped the practice establish a reputation as both professional and personal.

An in-house laboratory, The Master's Touch Dental Laboratory, allows ceramist Lorena Medina, CDT, to become more involved with aesthetic outcomes. To achieve optimal results, she meets with patients prior to the preparation appointment to ascertain their expectations. She then relies on a palette of laboratory options — Cercon SMART Ceramic System for Cercon crowns and bridges and the Procera System, the latest in zirconia restorations. Cristobal indirect composite system and Finesse Pressable Ceramic System are additional options. Master's Touch Dental Laboratory, together with Leo Cortez of Implant Consultants Laboratory, provides fixed and removable implant restorations.

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In this single-building arrangement, patients have easy access to the specialists they need in a familiar setting. All of the practitioners operate in close proximity of one another to enhance communication through frequent, joint consultations.

Dr. Little and team consult with a patient
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Especially in the cases of implant dentistry and periodontal plastic surgery, this collaboration produces the most favorable results. With all "players" present, provisional crowns can be fabricated expeditiously and accurately, leading to a superior final restoration.

Surgical area
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Recently, to facilitate communication among the different groups even further, Dr. Little and Dr. Crocker incorporated a new tool — headphones — that connect the doctors, dental assistant, and front desk. Headphones link the front office more intimately with the workings of the clinical staff. For example, schedule changes can be relayed immediately, which gives all parties time to adjust.

Dr. Little and Dr. Crocker surround themselves with other assorted technologies to make patient care more efficient and rewarding. These tools include Britesmile, an in-office whitening system, intraoral cameras, digital radiography and photography, an air-abrasion system, and, in the immediate future, a CO2 laser. "We have recently associated ourselves with DEKA Laser Technologies and are thrilled to be one of the first offices in the United States to be getting the new SMART US 20 D UltraSpeed CO2 laser system," Dr. Little explains. He goes on to say, "After seeing the success of this laser in Europe, we look forward to incorporating it in a multitude of ways in patient care."

This treatment room overlooks a tranquil pond.
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"Knowledge is power," states Dr. Crocker, "and sharing knowledge is an obligation we have to our team." Strong proponents of these beliefs, Drs. Little and Crocker began initiatives to that end. Dr. Little lectures nationally and internationally on cosmetic dentistry and dental implants. And, in collaboration with Dental Team Concepts (DTC), Dr. Little and Dr. Lou Graham joined with JP Consulting of California and Werner Consulting from Chicago to offer a variety of courses that can improve all aspects of a GP's practice — with the entire team in mind.

Dr. Little's involvement in dental education extends beyond helping other dentists improve their practices. Dr. Little has teamed with Dr. Andrew McKamie of Oklahoma City to establish Dynamic Dental Graphics, a company that offers dentists effective patient-education tools that relate to cosmetic dentistry. "Before" and "After" posters, recall cards, and a "Smiles" book graphically illustrate the possibilities available to patients. One of the most impressive tools is the Dynamic Smile Morphs that show, in DVD format, the dramatic effects of simple, progressive dental procedures.

Dr. Crocker's contributions to the area of education take a different turn. His work as a part-time faculty member at the UTHSC-San Antonio Dental School provides him with valuable experience and a change of pace. Says Dr. Crocker, "Working with senior dental students in a more relaxed teaching environment is a refreshing shift from the tempo of a private practice. I'm a better clinician because of my relationship with the school."

Clearly, the practices within the office and initiatives beyond the front door say much about Dr. Little's and Dr. Crocker's commitment to their patients, their team, and their profession.

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