No matter how much patients say they love their dentist, in my 25-year career I have yet to meet a patient who looks forward to a dental appointment. I recall one patient in particular who said she would rather visit her OB-GYN than the dentist. So, how can we help patients overcome their hesitancy to walk through our doors?
Today, patients look for certain efficiencies in their dental care that lead to a better experience. It’s important for dentists, hygienists, and staff to understand what efficiency means to their patients and that efficiency and return on investment often go hand in hand.
One important aspect of efficiency for patients is time savings. Getting in and out of their appointment quickly with everything going as planned is critical. Patients expect to get their tooth prepared, their crown cemented, and be done. If the whole process can be completed in one day—or better yet, in one appointment—patients have one less future appointment to schedule, which means less time off work or less money paying for childcare. In cases where patients must be anesthetized again to seat the crown, this means one shot versus two for the patient. The same-day crown is a win for patients and clinicians alike.
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From an office standpoint, there’s a wide range of benefits involved in same-day dentistry; for example, chair-time savings. Same-day dentistry reduces the need for temporary crowns, along with the potential need to recement or remake a temporary. There’s no need for a second appointment.
Same-day dentistry eliminates outsourcing crown production to a lab, which saves additional time and money. If you have in-office milling capability, you’ll reap these benefits:
- Better patient service, without temporaries that can break or come off
- Reduced lab costs equals a reduction in overhead
- Maximized production dollars per hour
- Time and cost savings for your office with fewer appointments
- An efficient one-day restorative solution for patients
A boost for your ROI
While your focus is patient care, your dental business should have an established minimum for production dollars per hour. You can be an ethical, skilled clinician with a good heart, but there is a time and place to donate your time to charitable efforts and time to make a profit. Saving production time without compromising quality will help you meet your overhead and budget demands. Same-day dentistry can improve the quality of patient service and overall experience while enhancing your bottom line.
You'll wonder what you did before
Adding new digital technology to an established practice is never easy. Years ago, the first practice I worked in had an old-school handwritten appointment book. When we added an automated practice management system, it was intimidating at first. Over time, however, it became second nature to use the more efficient digital appointment system.
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It’s the same with same-day dentistry. Once you have it, you’ll wonder what you did without it and why it took so long to get it.
Collaboration with your lab will continue
Unlike practice management systems, in-office milling solutions will never totally replace your laboratory; that’s a partnership and collaboration built to provide the very best care for your patient’s individual needs. The complex cases should be left to your dental laboratory specialists, but everyday bread-and-butter cases lend themselves to same-day dentistry.
Word will get around
When you can see patients from start to finish in one day, the ROI will be immediately apparent, especially when your lab bill is lower and you don’t have to fill potentially valuable time slots to seat restorations. Your patients will notice this efficiency, and word will get around.
As a dental consultant, I’ve heard patients brag to their friends that their dentist didn’t need to take an impression (not a goopy one anyway), and they received their crown in one day with one appointment. Patients will begin asking potential new dentists and even their current dentists if they provide this type of service.
The time to embrace digital tech is now
How do you get in on this new efficiency and ROI? There’s never been a better time to increase efficiency in your practice with digital technology. Years ago, when the technology was in its infancy, a clinician had to spend $150,000 for a closed chairside milling solution. Now, there are cost-effective open-architecture solutions like Roland DGA’s DGSHAPE DWX-42W Plus Chairside Milling Solution that offer a quick ROI at just under $30,000. Open architecture adds to efficiency because you can provide more customization for your patients.
Another historic obstacle for same-day dentistry is finishing time. Let’s face it; laboratory technicians are artists when it comes to the finish of dental restorations, but new materials on the market can make same-day dentistry more efficient. One such material is Amber Mill Direct, Powered by Roland DGA, a precrystalized lithium disilicate that requires no firing—just mill, polish, and seat. Lithium disilicate is well known for its high strength and esthetics.
Another mill, polish, and seat material is the new Chairside Zirconia, Powered by Roland DGA, a fully sintered zirconia block that requires no sintering. The sintering process can be time consuming and tedious, so this type of product increases efficiency and reduces chair time while increasing ROI and full-strength zirconia restorations.
These cutting-edge materials offer full strength and esthetics, which means there’s no compromise in quality with same-day dentistry. Today, with open-architecture and same-day chairside milling solutions and materials, patients can attain their vision of efficiency and an optimal experience from their dentist’s office, while dental professionals can customize their own efficiencies, saving time and money and increasing their ROI in the process. That’s a true game changer.
Editor's note: This article appeared in the November 2023 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.
Lisa Aguirre is an experienced dental marketing and product manager, consultant, mentor, and coach with a demonstrated history of team-building, dental practice management, development, and consulting. She is currently the dental marketing manager and primary resource for the marketing and development of Roland DGA’s DGSHAPE dental product line. Her experience in both the dental laboratory and clinical markets makes her a key authority in projecting the voice of the customer and the growing, changing needs of each market segment.