To say there is a lot of negativity about dental lasers, especially hard tissue lasers, would be a massive understatement. The application of lasers in hard tissue has created a lot of confusion, skepticism, and discomfort on the part of would-be users.
Having used lasers since 2004, I can tell you that evaluating laser technology is easier than you think. The criteria for selecting a laser should be the same as any other technology you consider. Just ask yourself how it will grow your practice.
The three ways to grow a practice are the same as ever: increase efficiency, add new procedures to your repertoire, and increase new patient flow. From my experience, lasers can help in all three categories.
A little more than two years ago, I began using Solea, a 9.3-mm carbon-dioxide dental laser from Convergent Dental. The increase in production and improved patient experience that it enabled was dramatic and immediate. This was due not only to my ability to perform the vast majority of my hard tissue work anesthesia-free, but also to the expanded scope of surgical procedures I added to my practice.
The additional procedures are the result of my ability to do so much soft tissue work quickly and without bleeding, stitches, or postoperative discomfort. Now, more than 10 years into using them, I can tell you that lasers have finally come of age and are well within the grasp of any dentist.
Efficiency and Effectiveness
Like most general dentists, I perform a broader range of procedures than I did when I started out, but the laser took that to a whole new level. One of the nice things about Solea is that it is equally effective in hard and soft tissue. I use it for more than 50 different procedures in my practice, including third molar extractions, cavity preps, crown lengthenings, and peri-implantitis procedures.
This laser’s hard tissue abilities are stunning. I can do almost any cavity prep or replace any old filling regardless of size or depth without anesthesia and with the same or less chair time than I can with the drill. I also can work in all four quadrants in the same visit, which is a huge time saver. Then I can just switch over to soft tissue and do all sorts of procedures that I would never take on with traditional instruments.
Less Work Out, More Work In
Soft tissue work is easy with this laser, so I decided to expand the scope of what I do. Following the lead of other users, I developed a network with pediatricians and lactation consultants to make them aware of how effective 9.3 mm was for frenectomies on babies and small children.
Now I average about one frenectomy a day, and that one additional procedure generates more than enough revenue to pay me back for the laser in less than a year. So I not only refer less work out, I bring more new work in, and it all drops right to the bottom line.
Positive Patient Experiences
Positive patient experiences drive practice growth, and negative patient experiences are, well, negative. In the current day of social media, word of mouth is now word of computer, and it all happens faster. With the right laser, you can definitely leverage it in a good way.
One of the most powerful aspects of the laser is that I can use it in almost every case. I don’t have to tell patients who come in looking for the laser that they are not eligible for it because their cavity is too big or it would take too long to do a surgery. I never have to disappoint them. Even the veteran erbium patients are amazed at the difference.
If you are looking to grow your practice, take a good look at lasers. They can enable you to do more of the same procedures you do today, add new procedures to your practice, and drive increases in referrals.
Plus, the more you use the laser, the more it will give back to you. Ask the right questions about not only what it can do but also how fast and how often it can do it. If you evaluate lasers from the same perspective that you did for CAD/CAM or cone beam, you will make a good decision.
For more information, call Convergent Dental at (844) GO-SOLEA or go to convergentdental.com.
Edward Kusek, DDS, is a cosmetic dentist with a practice in Sioux Falls, SD, which he has served for more than 31 years. He is a graduate of Creighton University and received his doctorate in dental surgery from the University of Nebraska College of Dentistry. Also, he is a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology and is one of 23 professionals worldwide recognized as a course provider for laser dentistry. And, he is an adjunct professor for the hygiene program at the University of South Dakota and a clinical instructor for Straumann implant dentistry training and Convergent Dental laser training.