The value of lasers in dentistry

Dental practice management experts bombard us with the “secrets of success” to grow our dental practices and supercharge production.

Oct 1st, 2011

by Michael Koceja, DDS

For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: lasers in dentistry, NV Microlaser from Discus, diode laser, Michael Koceja, DDS.

Dental practice management experts bombard us with the “secrets of success” to grow our dental practices and supercharge production. They hold the answers that, for a price, will transform our practices to a magical level. While this may work for some doctors, I believe in a simpler approach — using concepts all dentists know to create a better level of patient care and increase their bottom line.

In order to provide the highest level of care we must embrace technology. Dentistry is constantly changing, and numerous devices continue to sprout up that promise amazing advantages. One area of technology that has received a lot attention is soft tissue lasers. Dental lasers are crucial for doctors striving to provide the highest level of patient care, but can incorporating laser technology actually help a dental practice grow?

I believe the answer is a resounding YES! Not only will I validate my answer through practical applications, but I will also show how my startup practice has grown through the incorporation of laser technology.

Why have lasers become so popular? Prices have dropped (my first soft tissue laser cost $24,000), but I believe price is just one small aspect when incorporating cutting-edge technology. Remember, with price you get what you pay for. Just like I do not provide cut-rate dentistry, I do not believe in cut-rate technology. Diode lasers are smaller, more powerful, and easier to use than ever before.

Weighing only 1.9 ounces yet powerful enough to accomplish a wide range of procedures, I rely on the NV Microlaser from Discus Dental. Personally, I find ease of use to be the most important factor in choosing a soft tissue laser. Disposable tips, easy to read LED screens, rechargeable batteries, and wireless foot pedals all help you incorporate new technology into your practice.

These features are great, but how can a laser help you perform better dentistry? Here are a few situations:

  • Subgingival decay: Lasers can remove gingival tissue to allow for proper restoration of subgingival margins, while providing great hemostasis.
  • Troughing and tissue recontouring: Lasers allow for better margin preparation, easier impressions, and better hemostasis during crown and bridge procedures.
  • Cosmetic contouring: Lasers create even gingival heights and thickness when creating smile design.
  • Periodontal applications: When combined with scaling and root planing, lasers can offer patients an alternative to more invasive treatment.

So how can lasers actually grow a practice and how have they grown mine? You will do new procedures you may not have done before, and this will increase your bottom line and provide more convenience for your patients. You will also provide a higher level of care by using your laser during crown and bridge, you will get better impressions by exposing subgingival or class V caries with better homeostasis, and you will place better restorations. All this will save you time. Also, by differentiating your practice, you’ll attract a more educated cliental.

I recently opened a new practice, with no patients, in an area that was densely populated with other dentists. I knew I had to stand out, so I named the practice Columbia Laser Dentistry. This accomplished two things — by using the word laser I differentiated my practice from other offices, and I brought the laser technology aspect to the public’s attention. I then set my sights on spas that provided medical and laser cosmetic services.

I contacted these spas and asked if I could display my laser dental office information. I received a warm reception in the area and have received numerous quality patients from this relationship (orthodontic offices are another great source of referrals). Patients associate laser procedures as less invasive and an overall better dental experience, and once treated will refer their families and friends.

So when looking at ways to grow your practice while providing better care for your patients, soft tissue lasers are a win-win. Diode laser technology will provide big results in a small package.

Dr. Michael Koceja has been actively involved in the use of lasers in dentistry since 1999. He received his laser certification in 2000, and has achieved mastership level in the World Clinical Laser Institute. He is actively involved in the WCLI, including a position on the certification committee. Dr. Koceja practices in Camas, Wash., and can be reached at mkoceja@comcast.net.

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