Big Bang Theories

Dentaltown Magazine

In their own words, Townies discuss the items that gave them the biggest return for their practice

Great dental practices maintain a competitive advantage by investing in technology and using it in an effective way—simply buying an expensive piece of equipment that sits in the corner won’t make your practice competitive. The familiar term used to justify a financial commitment is return on investment (ROI), which is precisely the issue addressed by Townies on the following pages, whom we asked to describe the item that provided the biggest return for their practice.

While purchasing something is always a financial decision, the ROI goes beyond dollars and cents—in some cases, it’s about getting things done more accurately, or a more pleasant treatment experience for both doctor and patient, or the ability to live on the bleeding edge of technology.

On the 2018 TCA ballot, we asked Townies to identify the items that gave their practice the most “bang for the buck.” Here are the ones that got the most results.

(mentioned by 104 Townies)

“Due to advances in technology, intraoral cameras have become very affordable and can enhance the documentation and patient education provided by the dental team. Simply put, a picture is worth a thousand words—especially when an insurance company is reviewing a claim/prior authorization, or patients are deciding if they want to go through with recommended treatment. For a few hundred dollars, patient case acceptance can be improved, which will ultimately improve patient care and increase productivity of the dental team.”
— Dr. Jarod Johnson,
Muscatine, Iowa

“The costs to implement the technology have declined drastically, and with an extremely small investment relative to other dental technologies, you can improve communication, better document cases and increase case acceptance.”
— Dr. Michael Klausner,
New York, New York

“In my practice, the hygienists and I use the intraoral camera every day to show patients their dental conditions the same way that we see it. The pictures paired with the proper verbal skills greatly improve case acceptance for teeth that don’t hurt but still need treatment. We use the Alpta MD960U intraoral camera and IOC Snapshot software to allow capture button compatibility with Dexis.”
— Dr. Mohamed Elnahass
Fredericksburg, Virginia

“The intraoral camera is essential for documentation and patient education. Patients will readily accept treatment when they can see a magnified image of their tooth with a crack or cavity. There is the ‘wow factor’ of seeing before and after images. Seeing bleeding gums and calculus deposits motivates patients to improve their home care. Insurance companies are demanding more documentation to substantiate treatment before reimbursement.” 
— Dr. Judy Huey,
Scottsdale, Arizona

(mentioned by 16 Townies)

“WaveOne Gold has been a great endo file system. I know when I find the orifices to all the canals, the heavy lifting is done. These files have just the right combination of cutting ability, softness and flexibility. When reciprocating with these files, I never have to worry about separation or ledging. They’re more expensive than other files I’ve used, but I wouldn’t want to work without them.”
— Dr. Kim Walter,
Mill Creek, Washington

(mentioned by 6 Townies)

“I’ve had my Sirona Orthophos SL #D-AI for two years. In that time, I haven’t had any luck getting reimbursed by medical insurance for a CBCT. With that said, I still feel that it gives me the best bang for my buck both in production dollars and patient care. I see more asymptomatic periapical radiolucencies than ever before, which leads to either endodontic or implant therapy. Speaking of implants, since having the machine, implants are a no-brainer to plan out. I can plan exactly where I want that implant to go, including the correct angulation and depth. I was never even remotely interested in placing them before. Another service that I’ve added to my practice is treating sleep apnea. I may not treat everyone I see, but being able to bring awareness to patients with a 3D?color image of their airway can be life-changing—again, a new service I can offer my patients in-house now that I have a CBCT.”
— Dr. Tara L. Meachum,
Greenville, Michigan

(mentioned by 45 Townies)

“I’ve tried several headlight systems and Ultralight Optics is hands-down the best. Lightweight and comfortable, longest-lasting battery and easily attaches onto both loupes I own. They have friendly customer service with quick turnaround. I would highly recommend them.” 
— Dr. Tam Ngo, 
Westminster, California 

“I have been using my Ultralight Optics light for 10 years and I love it. It has become an integral and necessary part of my dentistry, and the hands-free touch sensor that turns the light off and on is amazing.”
— Dr. Uyen Thompson,
Chula Vista, California

“I think a good pair of loupes is one of the most important pieces of equipment for a dentist because they allow us to visualize the whole mouth up close and aid in diagnosis and treatment. When I was in need of new loupes, I did a lot of research and ended up choosing LumaDent. First off, the loupes are comfortable and well-balanced, which is very important because I wear them all day. Maybe even more importantly, though, the headlight is very bright, so I have no problems seeing anything in the mouth. Each pair comes with two batteries, which last a long time between charges, so I’m able to work better and faster because I don’t have to deal with dead batteries or poor-quality loupes. They really are a game changer in my practice.”
— Dr. Josh Wayman,
Kingston Springs, Tennessee

“We love our LumaDents so much we were able to remove our overhead lights in the operatories and put TVs on the ceiling. We have three doctors, seven hygienists and three assistants. The office has purchased LumaDents for everyone to use. As more expensive headlights have failed that doctors and hygienists brought with them when they started working here, we have replaced them with LumaDents. The lower price point allowed me as a practice owner to buy everyone in the office headlights for about the same cost as two overhead lights. We have been able to expand our office from four ops to 13 ops without purchasing a single new overhead light. The cost savings are incredible. Using a headlight in general has elevated my dentistry. We have been able to get mounting kits that fit everyone’s loupes because we all prefer different brands. The one thing we have agreed on is that the LumaDents are awesome.”
— Dr. Erin Mariscal
Arnold, Missouri

(mentioned by 18 Townies)

“I especially like my Schick 33 digital X-rays because I’m able to see things that I couldn’t always see on analog films. Because of this added benefit, we are able to diagnose and treat decay sooner. Also being able to show patients their cavity on a big monitor, we know that they able to see what we are seeing.”
— Dr. Tim Tishler,
Sister Bay, Wisconsin

“Moving from traditional to digital X-rays gave our office the best bang for our buck. It decreases the amount of time waiting for film to develop, increases viewing clarification with ability to zoom, +/- contrasts, etc. Digital X-rays gave us instant ability to view patient cases in multiple locations without physical films. It reduces staff hours when having to send X-rays to specialists. We use Schick CDR Elite.”
— Dr. Christine Nguyen,
Winter Park, Florida

(mentioned by 19 Townies)

“I try to use the Isolite on every restorative patient. It just makes our job so much easier with better isolation and better visibility. Most patients tolerate the Isolite very well, and some even comment on how it makes the procedure easier for them, too.” 
— Dr. Mark Salamy,
Poway, California

“Isolite allows us to work quicker and more efficiently, which I like and which patients appreciate as well. We definitely can complete more treatment in a given amount of time using Isolite. It’s like having another set of assistant hands.” 
— Dr. Jeffrey Weaver,
Port Royal, South Carolina

“The Isolite system simultaneously addresses isolation, visibility and safety. It also removes concerns with accidental contact with the tongue and cheek with a bur. Most importantly, it saves time for the doctor, the assistant and, in the end, the patient.”
— Dr. Rance Davis,
Sherman, Texas

(mentioned by 10 Townies)

“I like my laser because the simple diode makes it easy to use to do lingual frenectomies on infants that allows them to breastfeed better. I do 6–10 cases per week and enjoy 78% reduction in symptoms in the infant and mother. I also believe it affects the development of the airway. It is my favorite piece of equipment and its value is priceless.”
— Dr. Tammarie Heit,
Edmonton, Alberta

“I honestly think I was one of the first people to own a soft-tissue laser in this area. I had the old Biolase laser and now the Epic. I do a lot of cosmetic dentistry, especially freehand bonding. My most favorite use is for lifting the gum. Nothing more exciting than lifting the gum slightly to make the teeth longer or, if all the gingiva are in line and one is a little low, to lift that gingiva. It changes the whole case from average to amazing. I have had referrals from an orthodontist and a couple of dentists who have asked me to do the bonding on their patients because of these details. I could never work without it.”
— Dr. Dilshad Mithani,
Torbay, Newfoundland

(mentioned by 62 Townies)

“The Cerec system has been in our practice since 2008 and it is a magnificent addition to our patient care. We can provide single permanent and multiple restorations for our patients in the same visit. No gagging impressions, no temporaries that come loose or can be involved with gingival height alteration as in conventional crown and bridge. With the direct integration with our XG 3D cone beam, we can fabricate surgical guides for implants with ease and either fabricate them in office or electronically. Cerec is a no-brainer for improved patient care.”
— Dr. Don Roman,
Hackensack, New Jersey

“I love using Cerec technology. I have an Omnicam scanner and I have my own lab in my practice. This allows me to use the inLab software and my lab techs can receive the scan, design and mill the crown, and I can usually have it seated in the mouth in about an hour. No second appointment, no wasted chair time. Patients love not having a temporary crown as well. The fit of the crowns is amazing and not having to use PVS is awesome for my patients, too.
— Dr. Daniel Bird,
Memphis, Tennessee

“I love Cerec. Cerec is a great investment to give you control over your restorations because you control the result from start to finish. If you don’t achieve good results, it’s not the machine; it’s you and your series of steps. You also can buy used Cerec machines, milling units and ovens, which I think work just as well as the latest and greatest.”
— Dr. Tuan Pham,
Austin, Texas

“I was using the Omnicam and MCX milling unit in my old office. Patients loved the ability to have their crowns, inlays and onlays completed in one visit. To them, not having to come in for an additional visit and time in the chair was a huge value in their lives. It means less time away from work for them, and skipping second delivery appointments for me. Not to mention the quality of the restorations—specifically the margins—were markedly better than what most of my labs were returning to me for delivery! The technology does what you tell it to do, so it is crucial to become well educated in the use of whatever technology you decide to implement in your practice.”
— Dr. Rachel Lewin,
Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania

“We first incorporated the Planmeca CAD/CAM system in our practice about 10 years ago. It has been a complete home run for us. For our three-doctor practice doing a fairly heavy load of crown and bridge, the ROI was immediate. Patients love having indirects down in a single visit. I love the control I have on the final restoration. And there’s nothing like seeing your preps blown up on a monitor to help you see where you can improve. As the scanning technology has improved, we’ve found we’re able to do bigger and bigger cases digitally, especially in the area of implants. In the future we’ll be seeing some very interesting options for in-office CAD/CAM, as 3D?printing continues to improve and evolve.”
— Dr. Mike Kelliher,
Longmeadow, Massachusetts

(mentioned by 27 Townies)

“The Trios scanner allows us to save money and time. It makes me more accountable for the quality of my preps. It’s better for the patients, who are not only more comfortable but also are impressed with the technology in our office, instead of being gagged by a mouthful of PVS. The lab returns our units more quickly, more consistently and at a lower cost.”
— Dr. Grant R. Smith,
Prairie Village, Kansas

“With traditional impressions, visualizing the different aspects of your preparation is sometimes difficult. With the Trios scanner, I can scan the prep and visualize it in any direction I would like. Gone are the days of getting notes back from the lab stating, “Crown is at minimal thickness, please adjust opposing if needed.” I can check my clearance and margins within minutes, and I can scan and capture my work long before a nice Impregum sets. … The accuracy, time and money it saves in the long run make it an incredible investment!”
— Dr. Devon Rasmussen,
Gretna, Nebraska

“My iTero gives me the ‘best bang for my buck’ because of the low cost compared with so many other intraoral scanners out on the market. (I know, because I have two other brands.) It is so easy for my team and me to use and it brings in profit to my practice on Day 1. My patients love it when they can see their teeth on the screen in 3D in seconds without the mess of impressions.”
— Dr. Rebecca Charpentier,
New Iberia, Louisiana

“My 3M scanner has made me a better dentist and provides my patients with a better experience. There is nothing more humbling than seeing your prep blown up on a big screen. It lets me see what my lab technician has to work with and allows me to make adjustments to the prep before my case ever gets to the lab technician. I used to get phone calls from the lab asking to me to reduce more. Not anymore when I use the intraoral scanner. There’s no more calling patients back in to get them numb to reduce more and retake an impression when the scanner shows you where to reduce more with the patient still in the chair. Furthermore, my patients appreciate not having to gag on impression material and there’s a ‘wow’ factor to the patients—they perceive our office as high-tech. There is a ton of value in my scanner.”
— Dr. Jason Kopakin
Seminole, Florida

“I feel the iTero has paid for itself within one year of implementation. I’ve saved thousands on PVS impression material, lab expenses and fixed pros delivery time. The scan magnification has improved my clinical skills, and other features have helped me easily integrate orthodontics into my practice, whether it be Invisalign or straight-wire presentation. I also use this for scanning occlusal guards and temporary treatment partials, all with better results than what I was previously using. I’ve reviewed 3D?mills, lasers and in-house mills, but this is the one true game-changing product with better-than-before results.”
— Dr. Christopher Diaz-Freed,
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

“The reason the Nomad Pro is such a no-brainer for our office is the combination of good ergonomics, excellent clinical results and ease of use. It also allows us to minimize overhead for our startup office in not having to purchase wall-mounted units for every operatory. Definitely a win for us.”
— Dr. Carl Crutchfield
Dayton, Ohio

“The iTero has been a great addition to our practice. It has allowed for quick and easy records for Invisalign and it is much easier to scan and send for refinements during treatment. It has also been a great patient education tool because it allows us to show patients their teeth in three dimensions, what their crown prep looks like or what objectives we may be able to accomplish with orthodontic treatment. It is quick and easy to use, and patients appreciate the new technology.”
— Dr. Angela Snider,
Pembroke, Ontario

“Implementing the iTero into our practice systems has allowed for more seamless communication between our patients and the dental team. The ability of the iTero to create a digital simulation of a patient’s smile creates engagement that not only surpasses traditional methods of case presentation but also goes above and beyond patient expectations. Improved accuracy in clinical preparations and faster laboratory delivery are additional advantages of having the iTero in our practice. Overall, the iTero has dramatically improved the patient experience, lowered our expenses and increased our patient flow and revenue.”
— Dr. Dave Goldwyn Jequinto,
San Antonio, Texas

(mentioned by 5 Townies)

“I’ve been practicing dentistry for 37 years and have used three different practice management programs (and played with several others). The charting function was always cumbersome, at best. OpenDental is effortless and totally customizable. The $0 upfront cost and very reasonable monthly support fee is by far the best bang for the buck dentistry has ever seen—and their phone support is top-notch.”
— Dr. Thomas Knight,
Bainbridge Island, Washington

“OpenDental is one of the least expensive dental practice softwares and is constantly evolving. Its customer service is the best that I’ve had. Once, I called OpenDental for support (when I almost deleted my entire server) and the president/CEO personally walked me through how to fix things.”
— Dr. Matthew Lau,
Alameda, California


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