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Dr. John Flucke - June 14 2021

Why Should I Use Lasers in My Practice?

I have been using lasers in my practice since the late 90s (which seems like yesterday) and if you are considering lasers, I want to tell you I was once in your shoes.  Dentistry has changed *a lot* since the days when I first began using lasers in my practice, but the one constant in that equation is that lasers offer tremendous advantages over other treatment modalities.

Whenever I am considering bringing a new technology into my practice, I always ask myself the following three questions:

1. Does the technology allow me to do new procedures or, if not, does it allow me to work better, faster, and more efficiently?

2. Does the technology give at a minimum the same results as I am currently achieving or better?

3. Does the purchase cash flow?

I came up with those 3 questions as I began my tech journey and over the years I’ve found they have served me well.  So with that in mind, let’s take a look at how a soft tissue laser answers those questions.

1. Does the technology allow me to do new procedures or, if not, does it allow me to work better, faster, and more efficiently?

Depending on the services you choose to offer, a soft tissue laser can be a tremendous adjunct to clinical dentistry.  Prior to incorporating lasers, my cosmetic dentistry was confined to only restoring teeth.  After introducing lasers I expanded into cosmetic gingival recontouring and gingivoplasty.  Previously, these had been referred to a local periodontist who did the procedure with a scalpel.  While the results achieved were acceptable, the amount of time for healing and touch-up surgeries would often extend to several weeks.  Using a laser, one can basically “melt” the tissue to achieve the proper height and contour.  If done properly, the tissue doesn’t change as it heals, it stays exactly as it appeared post operatively.  This allows me to perform the recontouring and the tooth preparations in a single appointment.  This saves the patient lots of time as well as allowing the case to be finished much more expediently.

Soft tissue lasers cut bloodlessly so visualization of the field is greatly enhanced.  There is also the fact that laser procedures have minimal to no postoperative pain.  Before lasers I refused to perform frenectomies.  Using a scalpel, scissors, and sutures created painful postoperative scenarios that I preferred to not have patients associate with my treatment.  However, with a laser I was comfortable doing frenectomies, operculectomies, and biopsies.  The fact that I had clear visualization of the field, did not have to suture, and had little to no postoperative pain greatly increased my confidence level.  I also quickly learned that my patients did not like being referred, but instead preferred to have me perform these procedures.

2. Does the technology give at a minimum the same results as I am currently achieving or better?

The results I achieve with lasers are much better than with other forms of treatment.  As I mentioned above, bloodless and painless surgical procedures are a huge benefit.  Yet, lasers can also be incorporated into your everyday bread and butter procedures as well. 

Like most general dentists, crowns are a big part of our monthly production and our quality must be constant and predictable.  Lasers have become a big part of that.  Most lasers use a tip that is between 300-400 microns.  By utilizing a laser for troughing crown margins we have eliminated the use of retraction cord.  When the preparation is completed the laser tip is introduced into the sulcus and traced around the margin.  This creates a 300-400 micron “gap” that allows our iTero scanner to receive a clear view of the margin.

This is also beneficial in multiple unit cases.  Since troughing vaporizes a tiny amount of tissue, there is no concern with tissue rebound that begins to occur the moment the retraction cord is pulled from the sulcus.  The sulcus will heal over 48 hours with no residual defects.

Placing retraction cord can also cause pain once the anesthetic wears off, but not so with a laser.  In my office having a laser available during fixed prosthetic appointments is now just a regular part of the operatory setup.

3. Does the purchase cash flow?

Once a laser becomes part of your standard operating procedures, you’ll find yourself reaching for it many times throughout the day.  If you are not currently doing frenectomies, biopsies, and cosmetic recontouring you will find that lasers easily increase production levels.

Even if you currently are offering every procedure imaginable, you will still find utilizing lasers will be a tremendous benefit.  I love to say “technology markets itself”, and it’s true.  When your patients learn you are using lasers, they get excited about your practice and your services and when people are excited, they love to share that excitement.  You will see that translated into increased referrals and increased productivity.

One of the better marketing I have done with lasers is the destruction of herpetic and aphthous lesions.  My patients know that when they begin to notice a lesion developing they need to call as soon as they notice it.  The earlier a lesion is laser treated, the faster it heals.  For patients of record I always say to them, “I’m not going to charge for this, but in exchange for that I’d like you to tell 5 of your friends that this is the best office on the planet!”  That little joke almost always transfers into referrals.  I always laugh when I say it and patients laugh too.  They know I’m not really serious about “being the best office on the planet”, but they also know that we will take good care of their friends and family.  Of course lasers are a part of that care.

So today if someone were to ask me, “Why Should I Use Lasers in my practice?” my answer would be, “Are  you kidding me?  How can you practice without them?”  Simply put, lasers are a game changer that should be part of every practice.  At one time I wondered if they were right for me.  Now I know the answer is a huge “YES”!

Dr. John Flucke

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