By Laura Thill
With access to new technology and the ability to connect with – and educate – patients, Advanced Dental Solutions helps patients discover a new reason to smile.
The first prosthodontic specialty level practice to join Mortenson Dental Partners, Louisville, KY-based Advanced Dental Solutions provides life-changing care to patients who often mistakenly believe their treatment is out of reach. To a large extent, belonging to a dental service organization has made this possible, according to prosthodontist Mark C. Nation, DMD, who heads the practice. In addition to full-mouth reconstruction on teeth and implants, Nation and his team offer grafting procedures to facilitate these treatments, as well as general anesthesia for bigger cases. “A large part of our practice involves helping patients with existing dental implants who require additional restoration, repair or replacements,” he explains.
“Belonging to a dental service organization has helped alleviate the non-clinical tasks generally required to run a dental office,” Dr. Nation continues. “It has freed me up to focus on my patients and facilitate their care at the highest possible level. While I had great experiences as a practice owner in the past, I’ve discovered the lower stress level associated with being affiliated to a DSO – together with the services they provide – have enabled me to improve my well-being and spend more time with my family.” Indeed, while the experience has not impacted his staff’s day-to-day responsibilities, the support Mortenson Dental Partners provides around managing finances and training team members has made life easier for everyone in the office, he adds.
Better for patients
The DSO experience has led to an overall improved patient experience as well, notes Dr. Nation. “Mortenson Dental Partners has multiple specialists, which is a huge advantage for our patients,” he explains. “We are able to render multiple treatments in one clinic. For instance, in our group, we have maxillofacial surgeons who come to my clinic to help facilitate care on very difficult implant reconstructions and bone augmentations. Patients appreciate comprehensive care in one clinic instead of traveling between specialty offices. We also have orthodontists in the adjacent space that allows for ease of interdisciplinary care.”
As part of a large DSO, Dr. Nation and his team have opportunities to try new technologies at greatly reduced prices, and sometimes even for free, on behalf of manufacturers who would like them to implement their technologies company-wide. “Our office has been fortunate to be the pilot for new implant placement technologies and scanners,” he says. “We evaluate and determine the viability and profitability of these new and emerging technologies. In a big organization, it requires collaboration and agreement of many parties to implement new things. Communication and cost/benefit analysis are key to being able to utilize these technologies moving forward.” It’s worth the effort to know that his patients are privy to the best possible care, he adds.
Communication is key
Although prosthodontists like Dr. Nation can offer people potentially life-changing care, some patients are reluctant to move forward, he points out. “The two biggest factors discouraging patients from moving forward with treatment are fear and a lack of understanding,” he says. While cost can also be a concern, in his experience, “motivated patients find a way to finance their care.”
To put patients at ease, Dr. Nation and his team take the time to walk them through the treatment process, providing thorough explanations and visuals. “We approach all of our cases in the same way,” he says. “We photograph extensively and acquire any necessary three-dimensional radiographic information that we need. We then meet with the patient in our patient education studio and take them through self-discovery and co-diagnosis. Our goal is to educate our patients in layman’s terms about their current situation and show them the needed procedures. We also show them similar cases that illustrate the initial presentation and final restoration. This is a very powerful approach and really motivates our patients to follow through with their treatment protocol.”
Last fall, he made an additional effort to connect with – and educate – patients by hosting two open houses. “The open house events drew nearby patients to learn more about dental implants and restorations,” he explains. Most of the attendees were either nervous about what these treatments involve, or they didn’t understand just how much implant dentistry and prosthodontics have to offer, he notes. “The open houses enabled patients to meet me in a relaxed environment where I could educate them and they, in turn, could see some of the cases we have done,” he says. Furthermore, he could provide these patients with a CT scan and a brief overview of their case, giving each of them a general idea of what their treatment would look like. “The event proved to be a great way to help some patients make the leap and commit to treatment,” he adds.
And for one lucky individual who won Advanced Dental Solutions’ recent ADS Smile Makeover Contest, Dr. Nation provided a full-mouth restoration at no cost. “We are very fortunate to have the facility and the ability to provide full-mouth restorations at Advanced Dental Solutions,” he says. “As dental professionals, I believe we have an obligation to use our talents to help those who normally might not have access to the level of care we provide. I thought the contest would be a great way to meet this level of obligation and perhaps help others see and understand the possibilities of advanced dental restorative treatment and implants.”