The Right Laser

As a strong fan of digital dentistry and progressive clinical therapy, one of the most frequent questions I am asked is, "What is the best technology with the highest ROI ...

By Neal Patel, DDS

As a strong fan of digital dentistry and progressive clinical therapy, one of the most frequent questions I am asked is, "What is the best technology with the highest ROI that I can use for all my patients? (Oh yeah, and I don't want to spend too much money!)" I am forced to laugh and scratch my head, feeling like cheap technology and high ROI are often considered an oxymoron in dental technology.

When I really started to investigate a solution, I reflected upon my own practice and daily work. I have come to a conclusion that there is one technology that I touch every day, is used for almost all patients and procedures, and truly has a low cost of entry … and has one of the quickest and highest ROI that one could easily implement. What is this device, you ask? A laser.

Mind you, not just any laser, but one that could be used in all facets of clinical dentistry and achieve outstanding clinical results. I think that dentists are often blind to the fact that their patients are already used to multiple technologies that are used routinely in medicine. When we assume that "patients won't know the difference," this is a poor way to practice. Trust me, the patients that do realize are steering clear of your practice … so it's time to wake up! We have to offer services and amenities that are associated with modern medicine.

When I thought about it some more, I realized just how much I relied on my laser. I took a moment to reflect on my week and considered the technologies that I use routinely. Looking at my procedure mix, I noted that the laser was "ready to roll" for most of my procedures, regardless whether it was a perio appointment, surgical procedure, restorative procedure, or emergency visit. It seemed like I was subconsciously leaving it on because I knew I might need it! Perhaps my staff knew I would ask for it and could read my mind as to what my next move would be.

Here's the bottom line. The next piece of technology I recommend you consider for your practice, for your patients, for your business … is a laser. I am a huge fan of lasers. I own five different lasers in my practice. Each has its own benefits and uses, but I find myself using one routinely in my daily grind since it has the capacity for multiple clinical procedures. Someday, you might be interested in acquiring the other lasers that I implemented, but let's start with one that is a staple, or at least should be a staple for your newfound laser practice: The SIROLaser Advance.

Let's talk about the SIROLaser Advance and all it can do. It provides a broad range of power, duty cycles, and pulse modes. It is portable and ergonomic. The fiber management is great since it can be sterilized, which helps keep my ongoing costs lower compared to other lasers that require new tips for every patient. It comes preprogrammed for multiple procedures, but also allows the more advanced clinicians to customize the settings. This is a great feature because when you first start your laser practice, you may not have the experience to understand what peak power and pulse modes do clinically. As you gain experience, you will demand certain things from your laser. I have found this laser to be the unit that is great for both beginners and advanced users.

Although it is limited to soft-tissue surgery, I still use it when doing hard-tissue procedures (crown preparation or osseous surgery) to manage the soft tissue with finesse. Scalpels will do, and honestly, nothing cuts like a scalpel (as many surgeons would agree), but nothing heals like a laser when dealing with soft-tissue procedures. Plus, how many of us have a code word for "scalpel" when asking the assistant to hand it to us in the middle of our procedure? "Faith, can you hand me … that one over there; no, not that; that one with the thing on the end … yeah, the 15c …" so our patients don't freak out in the middle of the procedure. Don't laugh – you know what I am talking about!

When you use the word "laser," you get your patient's attention, but in a good way! They are used to the term as it is often a treatment modality they are familiar with from other health-care arenas such as ophthalmology, dermatology, and even in elective procedures such as plastics. Patients are drawn to this treatment because they recognize that lasers offer improved care and healing for them.

So take my advice, give the SIROLaser Advance a try and see what I'm talking about for yourself!

Neal Patel, DDS, created a completely digital practice where he utilizes digital technology throughout (all-digital planning, fabrication of splints, surgical guides, and prosthetics), bypassing traditional analog methods. Widely published, he is best known as an international educator on 3D digital imaging, treatment planning, and computer-guided implant surgery. He can be reached via email at drpatel@infinitesmiles.com.

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