Elevating the patient experience
What can you tell us about your background?
I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. In 2001, I opened my own practice, Lake Minnetonka Dental, wanting to provide the highest quality dentistry available using the latest technology. Because of this passion for technology, I’ve worked as a basic, advanced, and in-office Patterson-certified CEREC trainer and co-founded the Minnesota CEREC Study Club. My passion for elevating the patient experience and quality of care in my practice led me to recognize voids in the tools we use in dentistry, so I was inspired to develop a software company that provides tools to improve my patients’ lives. I’m an active member of the American Dental Association, Minnesota Dental Association, Minneapolis District Dental Society, and several continuing education organizations.
Is your practice limited to implants?
No. Alongside my six associates, I provide full-service care from restorative needs to RCT to implants. We have a keen focus on creating quality care, while listening to patients’ desires. When we feel a case is too involved or complicated, we have strong relationships with nearby specialists and have developed elegant communication systems to coordinate the care for our mutual patients.
Why did you decide to focus on implantology?
Implantology has come such a long way due to technology. With guided implant surgery, it’s become so much less risky to place implants in the office. I decided to focus on implantology when I saw a few misplaced implants from very experienced surgeons whom I work with; they were not involved in guided surgery. I then purchased a Sirona ORTHOPHOS XG 3D/Galileos CBCT scanner and asked a friend of mine, who had a lot of implant placement experience, if he would want to come into my office and start placing guided implants. Restoring implants also makes it much more fun to practice dentistry.
How long have you been practicing, and what systems do you use?
I don’t personally place the implants, but I am very involved in the planning. We place Nobel Biocare® and Keystone Dental implants in our practice, but I have restored virtually all the systems, as many specialists I work with work with other systems. Implant restoration is progressing so quickly that it seems there is a great new feature every year to incorporate! I would love to place implants, but unfortunately there are only 365 days in a year, and my software company is growing so rapidly that it makes sense for me to delegate that wonderful practice to my associates.
What training have you undertaken?
Being a Sirona and Patterson trainer and former CEREC beta tester, I was involved early on in CBCT imaging and guided surgical guide fabrication. This advancement allows me, as the restorative dentist, to maintain more control of the final prosthetic outcome. I have learned from many talented surgeons and periodontists whom I work with, but most of my training comes from Sirona and Patterson courses centered around CAD/CAM and CBCT imaging technology.
Who has inspired you?
Personally, I am inspired by inventors and people who think progressively. Outside of dentistry, I would say Albert Einstein, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Bruce Lee are inspirations. Within dentistry, I would say Dr. Paul Homoly has influenced me the most. I have learned a ton about educating others, treatment planning, presentation, and the patient perspective from Dr. Homoly. He was also the inspiration for me to start restoring fully edentulous arches with implants.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your practice?
I think there are two separate but equal parts of satisfaction with this profession. The first part is getting to use technology and emerging techniques to see an immediate and elevated quality of clinical work. The second is the how much happier the patients are when their dental experience is smooth and easy. When you can get both of those happening in one case, it’s a home run.
Professionally, what are you most proud of?
I created a software application, Opera DDS™, for better communication within my office and with my patients. I wanted that seamless flow of communication to create a comfortable patient experience while using technology that made sense instead of old, archaic practices. With this software, you can communicate simply and securely with staff, patients, and colleagues. It’s HIPAA-compliant and easy to use. When other offices started inquiring about what I used and adopting the software in their own practices, I started marketing and selling the application. Now, OperaDDS is in more than 2,000 offices, and we hear testimonials about how much easier it makes dentistry. I love technology that makes it so everybody it touches wins. With OperaDDS, patients get better care, staff have less stress, the office can produce more, and it costs far less than any comparable systems you would have to cobble together to do similar tasks. So everyone wins. That’s something I’m really proud of.
What do you think is unique about your practice?
Part of the OperaDDS software is PAGER, an office messaging system. It’s the only paging system with custom checklist messaging. When I’m paged somewhere, I know exactly what I’m walking into in the order I want to know it. That way, I’m not wasting time discussing what was already said before I entered the room. Also, if we are in the middle of placing an implant, I can be notified by a buzz on my wrist from my Apple Watch® and assess if it’s an emergency, or if I can stay to finish the procedure.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Balance. I love growing my practice and trying new things clinically. But I’m also a husband and father to two great kids. Add a software company to the mix, and it can get a little hectic. But I’m lucky to have the support of my family and my staff, all of whom try to keep my work/life balance intact — as much as I let them.
What would you have become if you had not become a dentist?
An animator. I love drawing and have always been fascinated by art in motion. It is also a good confluence of art and technology, which is what I love about dentistry.
What is the future of implants and dentistry?
Technology and regulations aren’t going away. If you don’t evolve, you not only are going to get left behind, but also are going to be putting patients’ health at risk. I think technology in the future in dentistry will work to deepen the doctor/patient connection instead of detracting as it does today. There has been research that the average doctors spend roughly 50% of their time looking at a screen today, instead of the patient. In my opinion, this has to change.
What are your top tips for maintaining a successful practice?
Hiring staff with a focus on looking for leadership capacity and letting go of staff who do not keep up with your expectations. My staff will now tell me after 1 day if a new staff member will be a good fit. I expect a lot from everyone who works for me, and I’m prepared to give a lot to maintain quality staff. I’m a big believer in communicating what’s expected and rewarding. I have a great bonus system in my office that motivates my staff so much that somedays I’m convinced they’re trying to work me to death!
What advice would you give to budding implantologists?
Learn from great mentors. There are not only great technologies out there, but there are a lot of great dentists who are willing to share their experiences and give you tips. Take courses from those who are interested in collaborating, not just going through slides and leaving you on your own. If you are coordinating care with others, use an online platform that allows a convenient place for everyone to place comments and images. This completely changes the game. No more phone calls, emails, or wondering what stage the patient is in.
What are your hobbies, and what do you do in your spare time?
I make sure to have downtime from the office, so I can hang out with my wife, Tesa, and our two children. When I can, I love to participate in martial arts, snowboarding, and guitar.
Top 10 favorites
- My wife, kids, and friends
- Lake Minnetonka Dental’s amazing staff
- OperaDDS™, DentalTNT (software development)
- “Star Wars”
- Sirona ORTHOPHOS XG 3D/Galileos
- Restoring edentulous arches with implants