Catalysts to practice growth

Aug. 1, 2011
The transition to a true cosmetic practice can be challenging. So it's no surprise I'm often asked about my path from general to cosmetic and implant dentistry. Many dentists have asked me what has helped my practice grow, and they want the same for themselves.

Wynn H. Okuda, DMD

For more on this topic, go to and search using the following key words: think outside the box, Dental Day Spa of Hawaii, Wynn H. Okuda, DMD.

The transition to a true cosmetic practice can be challenging. So it’s no surprise I’m often asked about my path from general to cosmetic and implant dentistry. Many dentists have asked me what has helped my practice grow, and they want the same for themselves.

A quote comes to mind when I reflect on my journey in creating my cosmetic, implant, and restorative practice. “As you climb the ladder of success, check occasionally to make sure it is leaning against the right wall.” This seems obvious, yet time and again dentists tell me how their pursuit was in the wrong direction, wasting their time and resources.

First, optimal clinical skills are critical in assuring consistent and excellent outcomes. We all know this takes hard work and dedication. I was fortunate to have found the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) and discovered a home where exceptional dentists with artistic skills could perfect their craft through the rigorous accreditation process.

In the early 1990s, we found pearls of dental wisdom from the likes of Larry Rosenthal, Jeff Morley, and Jeff Golub-Evans in the lecture hall. I was awarded board accreditation in 1995. This elevated the level of my practice because I could finally create the natural smiles my patients wanted.

It’s also important to know your patients and be able to incorporate the correct equipment and materials for the best results. By the mid-’90s I’d developed my unique style of cosmetic treatment called accelerated cosmetic treatment (ACT). This helps accommodate patients who fly into Honolulu from the mainland U.S. or from around the world.

In these situations, it’s crucial for me to use equipment and materials that give predictable, ideal results. I rely on the Discus NV Microlaser to help me accelerate treatment by using it in combination with esthetic procedures. I also use it in other areas besides esthetic contouring, such as perio treatment, frenectomy, and implant procedures. I highly recommend incorporating laser technology into your practice if you have not already done so.

Follow your instincts

I always follow my instincts about my practice and patient care. Sometimes I come up with an idea that seems out of the ordinary to the average dentist. However, if the creative idea makes my clinical outcomes better or my patients happy, I’ll do it. I encourage my peers to follow their instincts as well. You never know the power behind an idea unless you put it into practice. Just make sure your ladder is leaning against the right wall.

The Dental Day Spa of Hawaii is one such creative idea. When this dental practice was built over a decade ago, I received puzzled looks when I explained that it looked like a resort or spa. But when patients saw the office, the massage therapist, and more amenities, their smiles said it all.

This creative idea won us the Hawaii BIA Overall Grand Award in Office Design, as well as Contemporary Esthetics’ National Cosmetic Practice of the Year. Creative, out-of-the-box thinking is common in our practice.

Furthermore, my wonderful staff has always been instrumental in creating a special practice and making patients feel comfortable. Julie Bouvier, my practice manager for more than 18 years, plays an essential role in the practice flow, patient care, and many other things.

In addition to her excellent management skills, she has a generous heart. What started as our conversation about helping our community grew into the national Give Back a Smile program to help survivors of domestic violence. In developing this program with the AACD, it became an international program and helped people by providing millions of dollars of free dental services.

Another key element to our success has been working with the Levin Group. They have been instrumental in helping us turn our vision for a successful practice into reality.

What does the future hold? For me, I am honored to be able to perform a live patient cosmetic procedure at the ADA Scientific Session in Las Vegas in October, which I did previously in 2009. In the near future the Okuda Educational Institute for Accelerated Treatment will open in Honolulu. For you, I hope that the catalysts you create for your office will keep taking your practice to the next level.

Wynn H. Okuda, DMD, practices cosmetic, implant, and restorative dentistry with comprehensive spa services at the Dental Day Spa of Hawaii in Honolulu. Dr. Okuda may be reached at [email protected].

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