Featured Practice: Learn how to achieve high-value with high-tech tools

February 18, 2013

Anchored by the multi-use laser, this practice and its patients find high-value in high-tech.

Anchored by the multi-use laser, this practice and its patients find high-value in high-tech.

Dr. Jose Aunon has long had a passion for providing dental care to children. He trained as a pediatric dentist during his residency, but later expanded to family dentistry.

Over the years, he has sought to offer pain-free methods for treating children. His efforts were noticed by their parents who saw, thanks to a laser, that cavities could be filled-without a painful numbing shot or the stressful noise and vibrations of a drill.

For his older and younger patients alike, Dr. Aunon said using a laser helps reduce anxiety, and that means there are fewer people with sweaty palms in his office nowadays.

The potential of new technologies for transforming dentistry has been another of Dr. Aunon’s interests. He uses a range of technologies including Biolase’s WaterLase iPlus, an all-tissue laser, Sirona’s CEREC CAD/CAM system, and a cone beam 3D imaging tool.

Dr. Aunon purchased his first WaterLase in 2004. As part of his research he considered the manufacturer and its history because he wanted to be confident the company would be around for the long haul.

“I wanted a stable, progressive company that was committed to its product and to improving its product,” he said. “I didn’t want to buy a laser and then have the company go bankrupt and then be stuck with (what would amount to) a coat hanger.”

Dr. Aunon said it took three to six months to become efficient with his first laser.

As new upgrades have been introduced over the years, Dr. Aunon said training time has been reduced to a fraction of what it had been. It took his associate a day to train on the latest version of the laser and become very efficient, he said. Preparation is easy, too. Dr. Aunon estimates it takes about a minute to a minute and a half to do cavity prep with the laser, which he estimates he uses during about 75 to 80 percent of his day.

He uses the laser for a variety of procedures including extractions, fillings, crowns, crown lengthening, root canals, soft tissue procedures, and biopsies. Dr. Aunon is impressed by the upgraded versions that have been introduced over the years.

“It’s been like going from a horse-and-buggy to a Porsche,” he said. “Biolase is constantly trying to improve it and make it better and more user-friendly.” The latest version “is 10 times quicker. It cuts soft tissue cleaner and virtually no bleeding. There’s less bleeding and minimal, if any, patient sensitivity,” Dr. Aunon said.

If he has a question or issue with the laser, he calls Biolase, and his calls are answered promptly.

“I call them and they fix it,” he said. “I have zero complaints.”

A few years after he started using the WaterLase iPlus, Dr. Aunon purchased a CEREC CAD/CAM system. He mills on-site and said it has opened doors to him for doing same-day dentistry. It allows him to meet the needs of patients who have busy schedules.

“I can do crowns in one visit,” he said. “The materials are great. It’s all porcelain and cosmetically it’s fantastic.”

Dr. Aunon, who has four dental assistants, said they are eager to learn the CEREC CAD/CAM system. He said they like using the system, and he always gives final approval of their work.

“My assistants love it,” he said. “They love designing on it and tinkering with it.”

Another tool that Dr. Aunon has invested in is 3D CBCT, which he uses for implants and orthodontics.

He said the 3D image allows for more precise placement of implants. It also picks up on lesions or other abnormalities that might not be visible in a 2D image.

 

“You can slice, dice, turn it, and flip it,” said Dr. Aunon, who lets patients see the same things he does. “It makes it more visual for patients,” he said. “It’s easier for them to understand why they need a particular procedure. A picture is worth a thousand words.”

For anyone in general practice, he said the system would be useful for diagnostics, treatment planning, and many other procedures.

“If you have a root canal you can tell which canal is obsessed or needs filling or is failing,” he said. “It’s pretty cool technology.”

He said many patients today are more aware of what technology is available, and are interested in it. Since adopting these new technologies, Dr. Aunon said his practice has grown by 45 percent.

Though it can be difficult to decide to make a large investment in technology, Dr. Aunon said the ultimate goal is to provide patients with a better experience. He has noticed that his patients are less fearful.

“The anxiety that patients don’t have about having to have an injection is priceless,” he said.

Learning and using new technologies keeps him enthused about his work. “It keeps me stimulated in dentistry,” he said. “I have fun with it.”

Patients-particularly those who have had a cavity treated with the WaterLase iPlus - aren’t likely to want to take a step back in time to the needle or drill.

“They don’t want to be numbed and drilled anymore,” he said.