One of the best decisions of my life was to become a dentist. After working as an associate for a few years, when it came time to make the decision to create Atlanta Dental Spa, many consultants told us the odds were against us. They told our start-up team that it was a bad idea, and that we would fail. Ten years later, I felt confident that becoming an entrepreneur and creating Atlanta Dental Spa was also one of my best decisions. And, I also knew that it was time for me to take this successful business to the next level. I actually had to sell Atlanta Dental Spa in order to do this. As scary as that sounded, I knew that it was my mission to create the most ideal dental experience for my patients. Intown Smile Studio was born.
I have always been on a mission to create a great experience for my patients. Throughout my career, I had to get in the heads of people and figure out what was their typical dental experience. Yikes! Bad smells, nail-to-chalkboard noises, pain, loss of control, guilt, and a big expense. To sum it up, going to the dentist was the worst!
Rather than see this as to big a mountain to climb, I saw this as a tremendous opportunity. Taking each one of these nuisances one-by-one, I was able to redesign the total dental experience for our patients.
Smells? Most of that smell comes from an “Old School” material that I hadn’t used since dental school. And to top it off, studying aromatherapy taught us what aromatherapy smells deliver comfort, relaxation, and happiness.
Noises? Most dentists use “Old School” handpieces (drills) that have a terrible squeal. Simply using a more advanced handpiece muffles a major portion of the drill-sound. And to take care of the rest of the noise, we installed noise-canceling headphones for every chair. And those headphones connect to TVs in the ceiling for our patients to watch during procedures. Many dentists do this now. Ten years ago it was an innovative idea. Now it has become more mainstream in high-end dental offices. I like to consider that I’m a trend-setter in inventing pleasant patient experiences.
Pain? Once the smells and sounds were gone, it was time to focus on the biggest fear for patients: pain. Luckily, I was already ahead of the game on this one. During dental school and my associateships, I studied every method I could find that diminishes patient discomfort. I learned how to give painless shots, and I learned how to get teeth profoundly numb before working on them. I learned how to keep people comfortable in the chair during long procedures. At the time I had only been out of dental school 4 years, but I already had a big following of patients who had learned that, in my hands, dental appointments could be relaxing and comfortable.
Control? This one is interesting. Many people are extremely uncomfortable sitting in a dental chair because it makes them feel like they are vulnerable — or have a loss of control. If this describes you, then you might feel anxiety in dental appointments. Over the years, I learned your body language and the words you use. You might be more comfortable talking to me while standing rather than sitting in my chair. So, we stand and talk. You might like to know what’s going on around you all the time (no surprises). So, I explain everything that is happening or is going to happen. I ask your permission before I lean your chair back. I ask your permission before I look in your mouth. If you need a break while I’m working, you give me a signal and we take a break. I turn my dental room into a place where you have say…and not just a say…the say.
Guilt? The dental guilt trip. So many of you get so tired of hearing a hygienist lecture you about flossing — and blaming you for your gums hurting while they poke away at you. For some of you it has been several years (decades, even) since you’ve been to a dentist. And, even though you’re at a place in life where you want to get your mouth healthy, you hesitate to schedule an appointment for fear that the dentist is going to shame or embarrass you. Rather than shame you when you come in, I like to congratulate you. For many of you it’s a big step to get your mouth healthy. And it takes a lot of courage to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment. I get that. I also understand that many of you didn’t have the opportunity to go to the dentist regularly when you were a kid. And now that you have the means, you really want to get things right with your mouth. I sincerely love working with you to achieve your goals for your mouth, teeth and smile. And, I realize that no one flosses. So, I researched and found easier, enjoyable alternatives to flossing. Now you can keep your mouth healthy even if you never plan to floss a day in your life.
Expense? This is a tough one. Dentistry is expensive. Running a dentistry practice is extremely expensive. Getting your mouth healthy and getting the smile of your dreams can require quite an investment. What I have found is that if I help you fit that investment into your lifestyle; and if I deliver the highest-quality care I can give; and if I back up my work with a warranty; and if I do all of the other things I describe above; then my patients find serious value in the dentistry I provide. And, even though it’s expensive, there is a way to fit it comfortably into your lifestyle. And, the investment in you and your health is worth it.
In this last decade, the profession of dentistry has changed dramatically. So much so, that my procedures, treatments, and technology today are nearly unrecognizable from those I was taught in dental school. The only way to keep up is to attend the leading continuing education courses every year. Luckily, I love continuing my education, and I enjoy implementing better materials and methods in my practice. Patients appreciate this. They want “New School” dentistry. So, how-I-do-dental-procedures has changed significantly in the last decade. However, I realize that as I incorporate these improvements, nothing has changed about my aim being as high as ever to deliver the most pleasant dental experience for every patient every day.
Since the day I decided to become a dentist. It’s been a great journey. I’m proud to say that my team and I are still uniformly committed to creating a place where patients truly enjoy going to the dentist. We truly enjoy serving our patients.