Office Visit: Dr. Jarron Tawzer by Kyle Patton, associate editor

Office Visit: Dr. Jarron Tawzer 

by Kyle Patton, associate editor
photography by Michael Brandy

Dentists spend most of their working hours inside their own practices, so they usually don’t get many opportunities to see what it’s like inside another doctor’s office. Dentaltown’s recurring Office Visit profile offers a chance for Townies to meet their peers, hear their stories and get a sense of how they practice.

When Dr. Jarron Tawzer bought a practice in Logan, Utah, it seemed nobody believed it could do better than the $250,000 it scraped together each year. Where most saw improbability, though, Tawzer saw possibility: Now, only a few years removed from making a “mistake” purchase, his redesigned practice pulls in more than $2 million a year.

In this month’s Office Visit, we tour this Townie’s clean and homey office while he outlines a new dental assistant school he’s opening, how he approaches teaching implants, which small investments make a big difference to patients and more.

Office Highlights

Dr. Jarron Tawzer

Graduated from:
Oregon Health and Science University

Practice name:
Tawzer Dental
Logan, Utah

Practice size:
3,100 square feet;
7 operatories

Team size:

How did you find your way into dentistry?

When I was in first grade, I wrote on my school’s “get to know you” questionnaire that I wanted to be a dentist when I grew up. As the only boy out of four children, taking over my father’s successful construction company would have been the easy and obvious route, but I always loved smiles and teeth and never ventured from that desire.

Give us an overview of your practice.

I work and live in a small town in northern Utah. The area is heavily insurance-driven and has some of the lowest prices and insurance reimbursements in the entire country.

Early in my career, I gravitated toward the implant and cosmetic sectors of dentistry because I found them the most intriguing and the most complicated. I saw too many patients dissatisfied with the results of both, and wanted to change their perceptions of what could be done both cosmetically and surgically through proper implant implementation.

You bought a practice that had been doing $250,000 in collections. After five years, it’s now pulling close to $2 million! How’d you do it?

The short answer is hard work. Here’s the long answer: not settling for the norm. It’s easy to get caught up in what other dentists and people tell you must be done in certain areas to be successful. I was told that I would have to accept every insurance plan under the sun. I was told that to increase profit, I just had to work more and work faster.

I decided early on that I would focus on educating myself with the best in the field of dentistry. I began traveling the country to advance my knowledge and skill set. I considered my education from dental school as a simple foundation, not a terminal destination. My patients value the training and experience I have. That training and experience have also become my best marketing tool.

There was no shortage of doubters. What did you see in the practice and your approach that others didn’t?

In dentistry, we like to use the phrase “patients first” or “patient-driven practice,” but over my career I’ve met only a few dentists who exemplify what it means to truly focus on patients’ needs rather than their own. I have centered my practice on giving the best clinical outcomes and creating an environment where patients feel comfortable. For instance, if studies show that a piece of equipment creates better outcomes or simplifies a procedure—digital scanners, for example—then I research and start using it. If a dentist excels in a certain field of dentistry, such as bone grafting or extractions, I attend their course to learn what makes them successful. So many of us care so much about the bottom line that we ignore what “success” should look like.

You’re creating and building a school for dental assistants. What was the motivation for this? What should we expect from it?

Our town has a major shortage of dental assistants: Anytime a dental assistant is available, many dentists fight over the new hire. I also saw that newly graduated dental assistants were never taught about CBCT, intraoral scanning or any surgical assisting skills, so we built a dental assisting school of our own to solve those problems and provide more qualified assistants to our community.

How did your father’s health issues shape you into the doctor you are?

My father has suffered chronic head and neck pain for years. He has been around the country and through countless surgeries trying to find a cure, to no avail. Many doctors performed surgeries they knew wouldn’t work but were willing to perform because insurance would pay for it, but these surgeries only increased his chronic pain. Seeing this has helped me remain focused on what matters: the patient.

Along those same lines, you’re always working to change the average person’s opinion about going to the dentist. What are some things that have worked for you?

If I had a dollar for every time I heard, “No offense—I love you, but hate coming to the dentist,” I could retire a millionaire tomorrow. I began researching ways to make patients more comfortable at the office. When I built my new practice, I put in a fireplace, decorative wood beams, memory foam dental chairs, anesthetic warmers, individual walled operatories (not partitioned by cabinets), floor-to-ceiling windows, 60-inch TVs in every operatory to show X-rays and pictures, and intraoral cameras in every operatory.

I review patients’ CBCTs, X-rays and intraoral pictures on the TV and educate them on what I’m looking at. I help them become invested in their oral health. Patients understand that we truly care about their oral health and often have no reservation about investing in their mouths to restore oral health.

You’ve made a name for yourself as a teacher and instructor. How’d you get started, and what can Townies learn from you?

I teach dental surgery and the business of dentistry. Implant Pathway is a course in Phoenix that provides hands-on training for extractions, sinuses, grafting and implants; I teach there roughly once every four to six weeks. I also teach implant courses here in Utah, and do one-on-one mentoring sessions for dentists in the western half of the country who want individual training on their patients.

I got into teaching by surrounding myself with doctors who were performing at a clinical level I strived to reach. Dr. Joshua Nagao (@implantsanta) has been my best friend since high school. We have attended countless CE courses together and also teach together.

What are the three biggest mistakes you see dentists make?

1. Being cheapskates. Many dentists believe that spending money will make them broke. They’ll buy a new truck or sports car but complain about spending money on what finances the new vehicle: their practice.

2. Lack of new training. Those who believe that training received in dental school is good enough are mistaken.

3. Lack of investing in or leveraging technology. Doctors not willing to adapt and embrace technology that helps generate better outcomes will continue to struggle.

Top Products

Carestream 8200
CBCT imaging machine and 3800 intraoral scanner

MegaGen AnyRidge implants

BioHorizons biologics

Acteon Piezotome Cube system

BioHorizons IntraSpin centrifuge

You’ve got some impressive technology in your office. Do you regret any of those purchases?

I have incorporated CBCT, digital cameras, intraoral scanners, 3D printers, Acteon Cube system, face scanners and more. I don’t regret any of those purchases because I’ve taken courses and learned how to implement all of them.

Many pieces of amazing technology sit unused in offices because the dentist doesn’t understand how to use them or see their value. I invest in new technology and equipment only when I know it will meet two requirements: It simplifies a procedure and results in a better clinical outcome.

Let’s get specific. What are some clinical outcomes you’ve been able to reach that would have been impossible without the technology?

I could expound on this topic for hours! CBCT should be the standard of care in every dental office, in my eyes. I have been able to place implants in sites that many said were impossible because of lack of bone. With the use of CBCT and a 3D-printed surgical guide, I can treatment-plan and place an implant with exactness.

Technology is nice, but you still had to learn a lot to reach a point where you could teach. What’s your CE regimen?

Utah currently requires 15 hours of CE a year (which most struggle to complete). As a CE junkie, I completed more than 500 hours of CE courses last year.

I believe that to be the best, you have to surround yourself with those who are the best and will push you to different levels and standards. Being complacent in your skill set is not only ignorant but dangerous. Dentistry is changing and will continue to change, and it is our responsibility as dentists to stay updated and informed.

Which trends in dentistry worry you the most?

I often see that dentists have an addiction to complaining about insurance reimbursements and the fees they accept. Many dentists believe that to make better money, they must work faster and see more patients. This mistake usually leads to decreased quality, and an increase in stress on the dentist and the entire staff. I believe most patients will pay higher fees for a more competent or qualified dentist.

How big of a role did marketing and advertising play in transforming your practice?

For the past five years, no advertising has been done. Patients will market your practice for you if they believe your work and training are superior to what they are used to. In my practice, the best marketing tool has been my commitment to outcomes and education. This does not mean that every implant is successful, or every crown or veneer is perfect. But patients trust that if something isn’t right, I have the solution to make it right or know someone who can.

What kind of case excites you the most?

I love surgical cases. My favorite cases are often restoring form, function and aesthetics to a patient who has lost all three. Often it involves all-on-X treatment or full-mouth rehabilitation. Sometimes a patient only requires a couple of crowns, some veneers or a single implant, but either way it still beats doing endo treatment on #14. I refer out most if not all endo, perio and ortho, all of which I hate.

Tell us about the design choices you made for your practice.

Several things were of utmost importance when designing my building.

1. I wanted every operatory to be a separate room, not one big room separated by partitions of cabinets.

2. I wanted it to feel comfortable, so we included wood beams throughout, tall ceilings, a separate entrance and exit, three bathrooms, decorated ceilings, and individual music devices in each operatory to allow patients to choose their favorite audio tracks.

3. I wanted it to feel clean, so we incorporated lots of whites and grays. We chose digital equipment wherever possible to incorporate touchscreens instead of knobs and buttons that build up dirt and bacteria, so we have touchscreen Cavitrons, ultrasonic cleaners, sterilizers and digital forms, to name a few.

4. Anything clean, digital and comfortable is what we based the building around.

Give us a snapshot of your life outside of dentistry.

Is there a life outside of dentistry? Just kidding (kinda). Hunting in the mountains and fishing in Island Park, Idaho, are some of my favorite hobbies. My wife, Whitney, and I also love traveling to new places. With four kids it is hard to travel too far, but anything to get out and turn the cellphone off is a hobby for me.

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