How this practice went high-tech [VIDEO]

December 9, 2013
Renee Knight
Issue 5

This family-focused practice relies on technology to provide their patients with the most minimally invasive, high-quality care possible. Biolase lasers, including the WaterLase iPlus and the Epic, play a huge part in making that happen every day.

This family-focused practice relies on technology to provide their patients with the most minimally invasive, high-quality care possible. Biolase lasers, including the WaterLase iPlus and the Epic, play a huge part in making that happen every day.

After 22 years at the same location, Dr. Peter Harnois and the team at Hinsdale Family Dentistry decided they needed a new space, a space where they could really showcase their technology and enhance the patient experience-from the relaxing atmosphere to the engaging learning experience that truly makes their patients partners in their care.

Dr. Harnois, along with two associates and 14 team members, made the move about a year ago-2-and-a-half years after deciding it’s what the practice and the patients needed. Patients can’t help but be impressed when they walk in. The practice sits back in the woods, overlooking a beautiful pond that patients can see from any of the many windows throughout the practice.

Each of the eight operatories provide a private space where patients can relax. The rooms are equipped with television screens in the ceiling, giving patients the opportunity to learn about any recommended procedures while in the chair, and to really understand the possibilities. When they’re properly educated, patients are better able to make the right decisions about their oral health, and to communicate what they want as the end result.

“The key to this is to properly educate them and to give them all their options,” he said.

“With our practice’s look, listen and learn philosophy, we’re able to find out what they want. We’re really geared toward what the patients want.”

The right technology

Hinsdale Family Dentistry is a family-focused practice, and each team member strives to offer patients the most minimally invasive dentistry possible.

Technology is a big part of that, and is why it’s such a focus at this Illinois practice. From digital x-rays to digital impressions to laser dentistry, this practice stays on the cutting edge.

This has been the practice’s philosophy since it first opened at its original downtown Hinsdale location in 1969. Dr. Harnois can’t help but remember his interview with now retired partner Dr. Donald Thorne in 1982, and how impressed he was with the practice’s level of technology. Even though Dr. Thorne no longer works at the practice, keeping up with that level of innovation remains important to Dr. Harnois and the rest of the team.

“I looked around the office and it looked like something out of Star Wars. The practice housed every bit of technology they talked about at dental school,” he said. “That’s exactly what we’re doing with the practice now. Always keeping technology at the forefront of what we’re offering to take better care of our patients.”

Laser dentistry fits perfectly into the practice’s philosophy of care, and Biolase’s WaterLase technology has been part of their armamentarium since it was first released.

Why the move to laser dentistry

When the first version of the WaterLase came out in the late 1990s, Dr. Harnois and then partner Dr. Thorne were among the first in the country to buy it. When they saw it at the MidWinter Meeting, it just made sense. Instead of damaging their patients’ teeth with a drill, they could use water spray combined with laser light to get the job done. Why wouldn’t they make the switch?

“We had a demo the day after MidWinter and we purchased it on the spot,” Dr. Harnois said. “You could see where things were going. Dr. Thorne trained me that if it’s good technology and working for the benefit of the patients, we get it.”

They began using that first version immediately, and patients loved it. They loved the fact that they didn’t have to use anesthetic and that procedures were just so much simpler and pain-free. But back then, Dr. Harnois had no idea how much the technology would evolve in the coming years.

In 2005, Dr. Harnois upgraded to WaterLase MD, which offered tooth cutting speed that was roughly half the speed of a high-speed drill.

Now, in 2013, he has upgraded to the latest version, the WaterLase iPlus, which cuts as fast as a high-speed and offers many other “very impressive” features, Dr. Harnois said

The latest in laser technology

Laser technology just continues to improve over time, and Dr. Harnois loves the fact that WaterLase iPlus comes complete with dozens of procedure pre-sets. If he wants to do a cavity prep, he finds the icon on the laser, pushes it and the settings pop up. He can adjust the water and wattage as necessary, but now he doesn’t have to come up with procedure settings chairside.

As in the beginning, laser dentistry is still a huge draw for patients. On his practice’s website Dr. Harnois and one of his partners demonstrate the difference between a drill and the WaterLase, letting patients hear how they both sound. For patients looking for a high-tech practice- especially those with children- actually seeing the difference helps them understand one of the benefits of laser dentistry.

No matter what technology you’re using, Dr. Harnois said it’s key to talk about it on your website and to educate current and potential patients about its benefits. His practice website has an entire tab dedicated to laser dentistry.

More than half of his new patients “interview” the practice by looking at the website to decide if it’s a good fit, so it’s vital to have a robust website that offers that education.

A support team

As with any new technology, training is key to making laser dentistry a success in your practice.

Dr. Harnois and his team spent two weeks training with laser guru Dr. William Chen, really giving them a feel for how to best use the laser. They did this training for both the second and latest version of the laser, and it made a huge difference both times. Beyond that, the local rep, Jim Buckley, is a great resource on not only the business side of laser dentistry, but the clinical side as well. He also offers in-office training, and Dr. Harnois has been impressed with his level of knowledge on the clinical and scientific side.

“It’s rare to have that.” he said. “Biolase is good about offering hands-on resources. A lot of times you buy something and the company disappears and you can’t get anybody on the phone.”

The Epic’s impact

Not only does Dr. Harnois use the WaterLase iPlus, he incorporated Biolase’s newly released Epic laser into his practice a few months ago.

This soft-tissue diode laser has been a huge asset, especially when it comes to whitening.

“It is the home run of the century for whitening,” he said. “It takes an hour plus procedure and cuts it down to about 20 minutes. You put gel on the teeth and use laser energy to cure and activate the whitening gel with the laser. The Epic kicks that gel into gear and you cure each quadrant for 3 minutes, repeat the procedure twice and the patient is done in less than 30 minutes. You get the patient out of the chair quicker with less sensitivity and you get great results. It’s the best system to date for how well it works.”

Using the Epic laser for surgical applications also means much less damage to gum tissue. Electro-surge cuts through 500-1,000 layers of cell, he said, while the Epic only cuts through 3-5. This does wonders for the healing process and means patients don’t leave with damaged tissue. He also no longer needs to use retraction cord to access the margin before taking an impression for a crown, which can lead to permanent damage.

Now, he trims off a tiny bit of cells without causing damage.

“This fits into again talking about Minimally Invasive Dentistry,” he said. “What’s nice about these lasers is they will cut and coagulate, there’s no post-op bleeding, they sterilize and decontaminate the area.”

A philosophy of care

Dr. Harnois loves the fact that he practices dentistry in the town he grew up in, and he and the rest of the team are committed to serving their patients with the most up-to-date technology to achieve natural looking, beautiful and confident smiles.

Minimally invasive dentistry is their goal, and the Biolase lasers couldn’t fit that philosophy of care any better-and the 5,000 patients who call his practice their dental home certainly have noticed.

“Patients really get it pretty quickly. I think the public now is much more educated,” he said. “We really focus on technology and being minimally invasive to give our patients the best possible result.”

FEATURED PRODUCTS

WaterLase iPlus biolase.com

The dual-wavelength WaterLase iPlus all-tissue laser is said to deliver more power, control and versatility for experienced laser dentists. Reportedly able to cut hard tissue twice as fast as current laser systems, without the discomfort or risk of cross contamination associated with conventional drills, iPlus creates an optimal bonding surface.

The unit also features an intuitive applications-based user interface with a large, high-resolution touch screen programmed with more than 50 factory-loaded procedure presets. The iPlus with the proprietary 2780 nm YSGG technology is available in a dual-wavelength configuration with an integrated iLase 940 nm diode laser, or as a standalone unit. The completely wireless iLase will enhance the capabilities of the YSGG by providing a diode laser that can be used for unexpected soft-tissue cases in an adjacent treatment room, better control of bleeding, and the freedom to move around with no foot pedals or cords.

 

Epic biolase.com

The EPIC™ diode laser provides three distinctive treatment modes: surgery, whitening and pain therapy. The laser is controlled by a full-color touch-screen interface. With treatment options ranging from soft-tissue surgery to whitening to pain therapy for TMJ patients, it can address various clinical situations. The laser is FDA cleared for providing temporary relief of minor pain, meaning it can be used to treat TMJ and other musculoskeletal pain. Providing up to 10 Watts of peak power, the compact console also is fully portable. ComfortPulse settings deliver precisely controlled micropulses of diode energy to the tissue followed by down time to allow tissue to positively respond.