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How to enhance patient experiences with the Solea laser


How this laser from Convergent Dental can be used for anesthesia-free dentistry.

There are so many amazing technologies available in dental practices today, from imaging equipment to treatment planning software that’s verging on the border of - if not actually considered - augmented reality. But the traditional drill-and-fill aspect of dentistry is still going strong.

Fortunately for dentists and patients alike, modern technology has made its way into the surgical restorative arena in the way of dental lasers. Here, one dentist explains why he recently implemented one of these lasers and what kind of results he’s seen so far.

A major improvement to the patient experience

For most patients, the needle is the lesser of two evils; something that’s tolerated so as not to experience any further pain as the dentist works in their mouth. Part of tolerating the needle is dealing with hours of numbness afterward, which can affect the day-to-day needs of patients who just visited the dentist.

Read more: Convergent Dental introduces Solea Software 3.2

“I’ve been in private practice for 32 years and the thing people dislike most about going to the dentist is being stuck with a needle and then the hours of numbness afterward,” says Jim Sandras, DDS.

Consider that it’s already difficult for many people to see the dentist in the first place. Taking time off work and making sure they have coverage for the procedure they need and the out-of-pocket costs makes visiting the dentist an inconvenient necessity. As a result, patients often find themselves debating whether they have the time and resources for a dental visit at all.

And because patients are numb, they can’t tell if their bite is off while they’re in the chair, which means that patients will often call in after their appointment complaining that their bite is off or that their tooth is sensitive.

Because Dr. Sandras is always looking for an easier and better way to take care of his patients and improve their experience, he started looking around for a better option.

“If someone needs fillings on opposite sides of their mouth and you use anesthetic, their whole face will be numb for hours,” he says. “That’s not enjoyable for anyone. Anything to eliminate that would be a huge plus for patients.”
Cue the Solea® all-tissue dental laser from Convergent Dental, a quiet, anesthesia-free option that works for the majority of cases. At first, it sounded too good to be true to Dr. Sandras. But, he scheduled an in-office demonstration anyway. Unlike other lasers he had looked into, Solea could cut teeth quickly and smoothly.

He was so amazed at what he saw that he decided to purchase Solea. Since adding Solea to his repertoire, Dr. Sandras has noticed that he only needs to use anesthesia for fillings about 10 percent of the time, such as when the filling is deep or if he’s removing a large surface amalgam.

He also appreciates that Solea is more tooth-friendly than a drill, as it only takes minimal amounts of tooth structure and leaves healthier teeth intact. 

“Since I’ve been using it this past year, I haven’t had one person call back complaining that a tooth was sensitive or that their bite was off,” he says. “When I used the drill, I would often get people calling back complaining that their tooth was sensitive to the cold or that they felt like they were hitting on the filling. I haven’t had that problem once in the past year since using Solea because they can tell right away if the bite is off because they’re not numb.”

Solea is also a great option for Dr. Sandras’ pediatric patients. Not only can the doctor avoid giving his patients a shot, but he can satisfy their inherent curiosity by showing them how the laser works and allowing them to wear “cool” glasses. Because he hasn’t given a shot to a child since he bought Solea a year ago, he no longer worries about self-imposed injuries that often result from being numb for hours afterward.

Related article: 10 ways lasers can make your practice money right now

Another benefit Dr. Sandras and his patients enjoy is the ability of Solea laser to cut and cauterize tissue. That positively impacts his work with subgingival fillings, frenectomies and gingivectomies.

Typically, bleeding slows and frustrates the restorative process when a filling goes below the gumline, Dr. Sandras explains. But because Solea cauterizes tissue, he’s able to remove subgingival decay more effectively. With gingivectomies, the laser ablates the tissue, so there’s no need for curettage afterward. And frenectomies can often be done without anesthesia. 

As a dentist who’s focused on keeping his patients comfortable and optimizing his workflow, Dr. Sandras says he’s happy to have found the Solea laser. His patients appreciate that he keeps up with technology and takes the time to do the research in order to provide a better patient experience.

“Patients absolutely love Solea,” he says. “As soon as patients sit up after treatment, they say how awesome their dental experience was and that they’re going to put it on Facebook, and then they go and tell everyone about Solea.”

Dr. Sandras is excited by the progress happening in dentistry and the rate of change the industry is experiencing. To him, Solea is a “huge step forward" - one equal to the effect digital X-rays had when they were first introduced.

“I believe it’s just a matter of time before every dentist is using lasers,” he says. “Patients are very informed these days and will find out about it and start looking for practices that have the Solea laser."

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