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    Why cosmetic dentistry matters to every practice

    From ensuring precise composite color matching to offering in-office teeth whitening, cosmetic dentistry can take your practice to the next level.


    An easy add

    Adding cosmetic services to one’s practice is neither daunting nor expensive. The best way to begin, Dr. DeSanto says, is by starting small.

    “One small step takes you light-years with people,” she says. “When you get the person who comes in for their six-month checkup, maybe they have a small little chip on their tooth, or one tooth out of position a tiny bit. You can start by smoothing the chip they’ve lived with for 20 years and balance their centrals a little better. You’ve created a little more symmetry in their smile that took 30 seconds of your time. You just won that person over forever, and you can do things very small and simple to start — Invisalign, ClearCorrect and the clear aligners, that kind of dentistry is very simple. Making trays to line up somebody’s front teeth a little bit better, it’s very affordable. It’s not something like full-mouth, bracketed orthodontics. And it’s fast. You can move a tooth with slight alterations of position in just several weeks. Small steps make a big difference.”

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    Whitening services have become very popular with clinicians and is another straightforward service to offer.

    “Whitening is a huge thing to offer someone,” Dr. DeSanto says. “Offering an effective whitening system in-office, if someone can walk in your office, and walk out later and their teeth are six shades lighter, oh my goodness. You’ve just boosted someone’s confidence 10 levels. It’s so fun and rewarding because it’s instant gratification, and that’s what today’s economy and today’s population mandates. Everybody wants something now, and that’s definitely something you can do now that just makes a big change in someone’s life and confidence and self-esteem.”

    Advancements in materials have made esthetics better and easier for clinicians.

    “When you’re talking about composites, for example, choosing the right composite system based on its physical properties and having mastery over the components of any particular system are equally important to making you successful, esthetically,” Dr. Rowe explains. “If you match the materials with the appropriate case, sound planning and well-honed skills, I really think you can be successful and not have to invest in every single system available.”

    Once the clinician gets started, offering premium services can be well received by patients.

    “Ultimately, there is a huge difference made by choosing the right laboratory partner. Working together with a master ceramist, having the support of a great ceramic artist (often an AACD-accredited ceramist), is key for any cosmetic practice,” Dr. Rowe says. “That can sometimes be expensive, but if you build value with the patients and offer the patients a choice so that they do know the difference in what they’re getting and what possibilities there are for their teeth, most times the patients will surprise you and they’ll opt to pay a little more to get the smile that they want.”

    And while some specific services require a relationship with the vendor (like name-brand clear aligners, for instance) those services can still be offered using just a skilled lab.

    “You don’t need any special contracts,” Dr. DeSanto says. “You need to find an in-office whitening system that you like, that you researched, that works well for your office, and something that isn’t causing sensitivity and is easy and affordable. Choose a lab that you want to have a relationship with that can make clear aligners for you – most any lab can make that for you. You can talk to the lab that you’re working with for crowns and bridges and dentures and ask if they’re doing clear aligner treatment and send them your first case.”

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    Dr. Rowe shares a similar viewpoint.

    “It’s not absolutely necessary,” he says. “There are some vendors that have patented certain processes and have also invested a significant amount of time and effort into marketing, and you can benefit from partnering with them. But there are other ways of doing things like clear aligners where you can work with a skilled orthodontic laboratory that can provide a similar service. There are benefits in different processes that certain companies offer that would be beneficial in becoming involved with them, but many times alternative services can be performed with a great laboratory, or even if you were inclined to do the lab work yourself.”

    A partnership with laboratories that share the same vision of esthetics is an important part of the process.

    “These highly skilled technicians that provide highly esthetic results are in strong demand and can be scheduled out for months. When scheduling a patient for this type of treatment, we schedule with the patient and we also reserve time with the laboratory, so we have a reasonable turnaround time. If that isn’t done, there could be a wait of several months before the restorations are returned. There is different planning with the laboratories and also regarding financial arrangements with this type of dentistry.”

    Once the clinician dips his or her toe into the waters of cosmetic dentistry, he or she can grow from there.

    “You can dabble in small amounts of cosmetic dentistry, then you get the excitement and you kind of get addicted and you further your training by going to a conference about cosmetic dentistry and picking your subject matter and just advancing your skill set a little more,” Dr. DeSanto says. “It’s so fun, it’s so rewarding, because you just see these patients and their lives just turn around in front of your eyes. They’re excited and they’re happy. It’s your best marketing because they’re going to refer everybody to you. You’re creating your own internal marketing.”

    Up next: How to get started

    Robert Elsenpeter
    Robert Elsenpeter is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics. He is also the author ...


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