In His Element
by Chelsea Knorr, Associate Editor, Dentaltown Magazine
Dr. Gregory J. Snevel always knew he
wanted to be a dentist, but might have
shocked even himself when he decided
to forego working at his father's
practice and hang his own shingle
relatively soon out of dental school.
Dentaltown Magazine had the privilege
of sitting with Dr. Snevel to learn more
about him, his road to dentistry, the
challenges and rewards to opening up
his own practice and what he has
learned since graduating.
Dr. Snevel, why did you chose dentistry as your profession?
Snevel: I chose dentistry because it had all the elements that I
wanted in a profession. I always new I wanted to be my own boss,
I always knew I wanted to work with people and I always saw
myself working in the health-care field. Dentistry combines all of
the things I wanted in a career plus it allows me to be creative,
problem solve, and really improve someone's self esteem and quality
What was your experience like in dental school?
Snevel: I had a lot of fun in dental school, just not the school
itself. I had the advantage/disadvantage of coming from a background
in dentistry, so I knew how certain things would be handled
in the real world vs. the academic world. A lot of the protocols and
red tape were excessive in my opinion, but I think that is probably
very common to the academic practice of dentistry.
My education at OSU was top notch. Our clinical exposure was
above and beyond most. It really made me very confident to walk off
the stage at graduation and go right into practice in the real world.
Tell us about setting up your own dental practice right
away. When/how did you come to that decision?
Snevel: Originally the plan was to join my father's practice,
learn the business and then, in three to five years, take over for
myself. I began practicing in July 2011 and from the beginning it
was apparent that it was moving a lot quicker than anyone had
anticipated. The practice began to grow and I decided that it would
be better to start building my own practice sooner rather than later.
Name: Gregory J. Snevel, DDS
Graduate From: The Ohio State University College of Dentistry
Graduate Year: 2011
Practice Name: The Snevel Dental Group, Ltd.
Practice Location: Willoughby Hills, Ohio
Office Size: 2,366 square feet 2012 2012
Staff: Two dentists (one full time, one part time), one part time hygienist,
one office manager/chairside, one chairside assistant
Staff: Six full-time staff
As you started working on setting up your
own practice, what surprised you the most
about the process?
Snevel: I was surprised at how much coordination
and planning it took to get the ball moving. Even with
the great equipment, design and builders I worked
with, I still spent a lot of time on the phone, making
sure everyone was up to speed, that everyone was working
together and that things were progressing smoothly.
What were some of the biggest challenges in
setting up your own practice?
Snevel: Having the confidence to actually go
through with it. It's very scary when you start looking
at the actual hard numbers of costs associated with
building a new office, moving, updating equipment,
etc. You can't let those fears keep you from getting what
you really want. You need to take a good hard look at
the financials of the practice and make a decision. I'm
not a halfway kind of person, so we didn't make a move
until I was confident I could get exactly what I wanted.
What sort of input did you have on the
design/functionality of your office?
Snevel: I had total control. When I was in dental
school, I would read magazines, like Dentaltown
Magazine, and spend time in a lot of private dentists'
offices. I kept a scrapbook and whenever I saw a product
or cool idea I would add it to the book. I had
designs of what I wanted my office to “feel” like all the
way back to my second year in school. I still use that
When it came to color schemes, paint, art, etc., I
had an interior designer work with me to pick colors
and materials that would fit with the image I had for
our office. I was looking for modern, high-tech, visually
striking, but not cold. I wanted the office to be
bright and feel comfortable.
What challenges do you face today?
Snevel: My biggest challenges today do not come
from the clinical side of dentistry at all. The dentistry
is the easiest part. My challenges all have to do with the
ins-and-outs of running my own business - administration, collections, staff/patient issues, dealing
with vendors/suppliers, marketing, etc.
What is the biggest advantage to having
your own practice?
Snevel: The freedom to run things exactly how
you want them, the pride in watching something
that you build grow and serve people, and the flexibility
of being your own boss.
Snevel: When you own your own business you
are it - the end of the line. Every decision is (or
should be) yours to make. Every consequence is
yours to deal with. You must monitor and keep
eyes on every aspect of your practice at all times. I
joke that I never really have a day off. I'm at my
office doing something every single day. I'm very
involved in the business/marketing side of my practice,
so I'm constantly looking at new-patient numbers,
production, overhead, etc. When you start to
loose grip on those things, your practice can start to
get away from you. It pays to put the time in yourself,
because nobody else is going to be as concerned
with your practice health as you.
Is setting up your own dental practice
something you'd recommend for other
young dentists? Why/why not?
Snevel: That all really depends on the dentist
and if he or she really wants to put in the work and
effort and stress of going it alone. If you know in
your mind that starting your own practice is what you want to
do at some point in the future, then do it. What's the point in
waiting? Do it now while you are young and have the energy and
drive to do it and before you have any obligations. If you're not
sure about taking all this on, then don't. It is not a decision to
be made lightly.
You grew up in Ohio - how important was it for you to
remain in your area?
Snevel: It was very important for me to stay in Ohio. This is
where I grew up and my whole family is here. I couldn't imagine
leaving this behind.
What is the one thing you've learned about dentistry
that you wish you had learned in dental school?
Snevel: In dental school when a restoration doesn't hold up
or fails in a patient's mouth, they would always make it seem
like it was something the dentist did. “If you had done the procedure
correctly or ideally it would have lasted indefinitely.”
That's just not true. You can do everything right and have perfect
skills, and it can still fail. Failures are going to happen,
some will be your fault, most will not. It all comes down to
how you handle it, what you learn from it and how you make
it right by the patient.
You are quite the early adopter of new technologies
in your practice - tell me how you got so involved in
Snevel: CAD/CAM is the future of dentistry, plain and simple.
Just like the air driven dental handpiece was a game changer
so long ago, CAD/CAM is the same. It allows you to do better
work, faster and ultimately more affordably in the long run. The
question we asked ourselves was, “Do we want to come late to
the party?” In my mind the answer was a definite no! In 10 to
15 years, some form of CAD/CAM will be in every dental office
in America. I want to be ahead of trends, not behind them. We
sat down and compared the cost and features of a couple different
systems, and examined our lab bills from previous years. I
definitely saw the potential in the investment. I decided to go
with Sirona's Omnicam because the company has such a proven track record, and the clinical workflow of the Omnicam is a
breeze. Much easier to learn and implement than the other systems
we looked into.
What other technologies are you excited to implement
in your office?
Snevel: I explore, invest and implement any technology that
has two common factors: 1. Improvement in the quality of my
work; and 2. Improvement in the speed of my work.
I try not to focus on the direct cost to implement, but if a
new material allows me to do better dentistry, or a new product
allows me to do a procedure faster, it will pay for itself in the
long run. Digital radiography is the perfect example. Obviously,
it's much faster than having to process film the traditional way,
plus the image quality is superb, leading to better dx and better
acceptance of treatment.
I love rotary endo; it has really improved the speed and predictability
of my root canal procedures. I stick mainly to anterior
and single-rooted teeth, being able to implement this in my
practice has been a great service to my patients.
My STA machine is great as well, it allows me to predictably
numb a tooth without doing a nerve block instantly. I also don't
have to wait five to 10 minutes for the anesthetic to take effect.
On top of that, its much more comfortable to the patient.
Tell us about a typical day at your office. How many
hours do you work each week? What sorts of
patients do you see?
Snevel: I typically work anywhere from 25-35 hours a week.
A typical day consists of everyone being ready to go at the office
around 8:30 am. Our first patients start at 9 a.m., and we work
until about 5 p.m.
I see all kinds of patients, from simple cleanings (yes I do my
own prophys occasionally), all the way to complex implant supported
fixed arch therapy. Every patient is different with different
needs; it's what makes my days enjoyable.
What would you recommend to those in dental
school right now?
Snevel: Get out into the real world as much as you can. There are plenty of doctors out there that would love to have
you shadow them. See if you cant get a feel for how you want
your practice to be.
Remember there are always lots of ways to do things. Be
open minded, use your critical thinking and judgment skills, try
new things and don't be afraid to push yourself.
|Dr. Snevel's Top Five
|Dexis Digital Imaging
||Milestone Scientific STA
(Single Tooth Anesthesia System)
|Isolite Isolation System
|When did you start using it?
|Why can you not live/work without it?
|After doing my first root
canal with Dexis, the thought
of having to wait for film to
process seems prehistoric.
||It has fundamentally changed
the way I look at dentistry.
||It's a big wow factor for
patients. Give a patient a
painless injection, and they
will not stop sending you
referrals. Plus, I can confidently
numb a lower tooth
||I bought the Isolite when I
just started as I was sometimes
working without an
assistant. The visualization
you get is great, it allows me
to do better dentistry.
||It has taken my posterior
composites to another level.
|When do you use it?
|On a daily basis, multiple
times a day.
||Every day, I use it to mill
large compsites, onlays/
inlays, even temporaries.
Not just for crowns. I scan
and digitally submit cases to
the labs as well.
||Anytime I have to administer
anesthesia. It is easy,
predictable and painless.
||Quadrant cases, scaling and
root planning, sealants,
CEREC cases (its great for
imaging), any patient that
has heavy salivary flow or has
wandering tongue syndrome.
||Any posterior Class II/III
composite that isn't large
enough for an inlay.
|If you could change anything about the item, what would it be?
|I'd like it to be wireless and
||I would like to see more
implant integration in the
basic software as well as the
ability to do bridges.
||I wish I had more of them.
||I wish the mouthpieces came
in a few more configurations.
||I wish the rubber on the rings
lasted a bit longer. It seems
like I'm replacing one about
every four to six months.
What are you most excited about in your practice?
Snevel: It's a toss up between my CAD/CAM and implants.
I started placing implants a little more than a year ago, and it has
really taken off in my practice. Patients love that they get to continue
to see me for all their care, and I love having complete control
over the whole situation. Integration of both CAD/CAM
and implants (which is something I'm working on) will really
take the workflow to the next level, and will bring us even closer
to a restorative driven approach to implants.
You've been a member of Dentaltown since 2011. In
what ways has it been a resource for you?
Snevel: It's a huge resource for me. Before I buy any product,
Dentaltown is the first place I check for reviews from other
dentists. I also spend a lot of time on the message boards, seeing
what other dentists are doing, what materials they are using, etc.
Let's say someone told you were not allowed to practice
dentistry anymore, what would you do instead?
Snevel: I've thought about being a school psychologist.
Maybe a musician.
When you're not practicing, what do you like to do
Snevel: I like to stay active. I like to fly fish, spend time outdoors
hiking, camping. I also really enjoy playing music; I play
in a couple of bands.
Where do you see yourself and your practice in
Snevel: I would like to see the office continue to grow, and
to increase the amount of surgery/implant service I do on a daily
basis. I want to expand our use of CAD/CAM technology and
do more total mouth dentistry. Another full-time doctor on staff
would be nice, too.