Mark E. Hyman, DDS, MAGD
By Mark E. Hyman, DDS, MAGD
“But that’s what we learned in dental school…” That is a mentality that I have consciously avoided during all 29 years that I have practiced cosmetic and family dentistry in Greensboro, NC. What I have discovered is that dental practices that embrace technological advances early are the ones leaping ahead of everyone else! Learning from the best, I have chosen to integrate many of these innovations into my practice, and with great results!
Take the intraoral camera (IOC) for instance. It may seem easy to give a patient a mirror and try to show them their cracked tooth. Certainly this seems less costly than investing in an IOC for every treatment room to show the patient’s entire mouth. Mirrors show a very small portion of the mouth, and most patients don’t know what they are seeing. With the IOC, we can show the condition to the patient immediately. When “evidence defeats doubt,” a patient is more willing to have trust and accept their treatment plan.
We now have a game changer in the world of local anesthetic. In school we were taught to give a block, wait ten to fifteen minutes, and pray it took. This wastes a lot of time and is one of the main reasons dentist get behind schedule. Additionally, since the pH of Lidocaine is approximately that of lemon juice -- it burns! Now we can use Onset by Onpharma, a precision buffering technology that adds sodium bicarbonate to your anesthetic before it’s injected, with a soothing benefit of seeming to “turn lemon juice into water!” Our numbing now occurs almost immediately…even in blocks is painless, and we begin treatment without ever leaving the operatory!
In 1986, I never imagined we would fabricate porcelain restorations in the office. However, CEREC does just that. The convenience to the patient made it an easy decision to integrate it into my practice. Time has become the most precious commodity for all of us. It’s a big deal to be able to offer same day service to my busy patients! What appeared to be an expensive technology turned out to be a valuable competitive advantage. Similarly, the Isolite is an innovative tool that provides many benefits to the patient and our team. Compare the old school rubber dam -- bulky, uncomfortable and time-consuming -- to the ease, comfort and efficiency of the Isolite. The patient’s experience and overall satisfaction with their visit is greatly enhanced. Sure, with both of these technologies, it would have been easier to take a “wait and see” attitude. But that’s not how one succeeds.
One of our biggest challenges is comfortable patient financing and the dental insurance situation. I tell my patients I am glad they have dental insurance, but coverage is minimal. It’s more like a $1000 coupon towards the cost of their care. When Care Credit came along, and offered low monthly payment options with no interest shorter term plans, we told everyone! Hundreds of my patients have been able to invest in their dental health, and that of their growing families, through a Care Credit account. The impact has dramatically reduced our accounts receivable and helped patients keep their teeth for a lifetime.
It truly is what you learn, after you know it all that counts.