The Natural Evolution for the ‘Laser Dentist’; the Dental Spa

by Christopher Schmid

It’s 9:15 am and Mrs. Millward has arrived for her dental appointment. Today’s visit will involve some cosmetic tissue re-contouring with your surgical laser followed by a closed flap laser osseous re-contour in preparation for immediate impressions and temporaries. Your focus is on minimally invasive aesthetic dentistry and your investment in dental laser technology allows you to perform multiple procedures in a safe and effective manner, minimizing stress levels and maximizing the patient experience. The final product will be an incredible new smile, an aesthetic improvement in her appearance, which may also benefit her self esteem, confidence and overall sense of health and wellness.

Mrs. Millward is no different than thousands of others who have decided to improve their appearance, beginning by changing their smile. The popularity of makeover television programs, a media emphasis on overall health and wellness, exercise and a desire for ‘eternal youth’ has motivated a generation focused on self-improvement and turning back the clock. Cosmetic dentistry is a fundamental component of any aesthetic makeover, and the implementation of dental lasers has emerged as the technology of choice for minimally invasive hard and soft tissue aesthetic dental procedures.

The Institute for Laser Dentistry (ILD) is an internationally recognized authority on the safe and effective implementation of multiple dental laser technologies and is the largest vendor independent dental laser training organization in the world. In response to requests from laser dentists who had already implemented multiple surgical laser systems in their practice, ILD created the concept of The Dental Spa. This market driven concept evolved, as dental patients themselves began requesting additional aesthetic services outside of the mouth, from dentists who had just performed a dental laser procedure. Even simple procedures like in-office laser-whitening are an introduction to this new aesthetic market opportunity.

The same patient who requests a smile makeover, is usually going elsewhere for other aesthetic treatments including facial hair removal, vascular treatments, fine lines, and photo-rejuvenation. As soon as dentists complete their aesthetic dental procedure, and in many cases improve the patients overall appearance, other aesthetic issues became more important. Knowing the dentist had used a ‘laser’ to perform the treatment, the patients naturally ask; “… can your laser remove my upper lip hair …,” or “… now I really notice these fine lines ….” This began the evolution from aesthetic dental treatments to additional complimentary services outside of the mouth, including photo-facials, photo-rejuvenation, fines lines, vascular and pigmented lesion and even acne treatments.

There are multiple reasons why this works so well in dental practices. Your patients trust and respect your experience and knowledge. They are more comfortable having these treatments performed by people they know, in a clinical environment. By providing other aesthetic services, the dentist further strengthens their bond with the patient and additionally benefits from a profitable incremental revenue stream; a true win-win relationship.

So what truly is The Dental Spa and how does it differ from the resort spa, day spa, medi-spa or the health spa. Traditional spas offer multiple treatments to spoil and pamper their clientele which have as common characteristics; relaxation and improvement in appearance. These services range from manicure/ pedicures, traditional facials, chemical peels and massages to aromatherapy, nutrition counseling and even personal exercise programs. The Dental Spa focuses more on clinical treatments, which deliver measurable aesthetic results vs. ‘feel-good’ services.

The fundamental light and laser based clinical treatments include:

* Photo-facials/photo-rejuvenation,

* Permanent hair reduction,

* Vascular treatments (broken capillaries, rosacea etc.),

* Sun damage / age spots,

* Acne treatments.

The technology of choice to deliver these additional aesthetic services in a minimally invasive and effective manner across multiple skin types is medical grade Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) technology. Simply put, medical grade IPL technology is affordable, easy to use, safe and effective and you don’t have to be an MD to operate the device.

To be considered ‘medical grade’ IPL’s should offer multiple simultaneously connected hand-pieces, variable pulse control, high energy output (up to 50j/cm2) and integrated hand-piece cooling to eliminate the requirement for additional chillers, gels or sprays which are an added expense. If the aesthetic services you market evolve to more advanced clinical procedures (skin toning, tattoo removal, scar treatments) medical laser technology like HOYA’s Medlite C6 Q-switched Nd:YAG laser would be required in order to complete the treatments in the safest, most effective and least invasive manner.

In order to sort the truth from the hype, often associated with some technology product marketing, it’s important to follow a couple of fundamental rules. Firstly, as with any investment you research, do your homework up front and don’t get caught up in unique patents which are the domain of individual manufacturers. The Institute For Laser Dentistry has standardized on medical grade Intense Pulse Light (IPL) technology for aesthetic procedures, as these technologies are internationally recognized as safe and effective, are marketed globally by multiple manufacturers and have been successfully implemented by thousands of dermatologists and general practitioners world-wide.

Technology itself is only part of the solution. As this venture is unfamiliar territory to most dentists and their staff, education and support are key to the successful implementation of the technology. Educate before you make your investment and make sure your education comes from an experienced, credible, vendor independent source. The Institute For Laser Dentistry offers dentists the only IPL Certification program recognized by the Ministry Of Education. Knowledge is power, knowledge protects your investment and knowledge means safe and predictable clinical results, which is the best marketing investment you can make. Word of mouth is what really sells these additional aesthetic services. Be cautious of manufacturer sponsored training programs; chances are their technology will miraculously be, the ‘technology of choice’.

Base your investment decisions on YOUR needs, not on the sales person’s opinion of your needs. Don’t try to force a square peg into a round hole, just to be like the others. Look for modular medical grade IPL technology, which is capable of performing multiple treatments with a single system. By adding complimentary products like microdermabrasion you can personalize services to individual clients and expand your market penetration in a profitable manner. The addition of a microdermabrasion treatment will improve the results of an IPL photo-facial to further enhance the overall patient experience.

Remember there is value in diversity. Every dentist is different, every market is different and technology is only as valuable as the service it provides to YOUR clientele. Be cautious of unique and individual ‘one of a kind’ technologies and ensure the patented technology offers you and your clients’ value. Rarely do proprietary systems, which have a perception of superiority, deliver benefits which outweigh the costs. Sony may have had superior technology with the Beta Max, but apparently the consumer market had another opinion. Consider the initial purchase cost as well as future costs to upgrade and maintain the units (which may only be serviced by one manufacturer, hence controlling the service cost).

The evolution from laser dentist to providing aesthetic services outside of the mouth should be approached as a total solution. The ideal appr
oach is to work with a partner with an established track record relative to technology and support services including education and maintenance. Your solution should comprise:

* Multiple vendor independent technology platforms,

* Modular affordable technology design (upgradeable to protect your initial investment),

* Complimentary technologies and products to grow your business,

* Clinical education, hands-on training and operator certification programs from a recognized training organization,

* Affordable, experienced, local service personnel,

* Marketing support and patient education,

* Affordable financing alternatives.

As this new business venture involves the marketing of personal services, perhaps unfamiliar to existing dental staff, serious consideration should be given to the selection of personnel. One of the great advantages of implementing IPL technology in the dental office is; you do not have to be an MD to operate the unit. Still, personality and technical competence are important criteria which should be considered when selecting a primary IPL certified technician/ operator. The fastest and easiest alternative to get the business up and running is to hire an esthetician part time, who has already been certified by the Institute.

The Dental Spa has emerged as an exciting profitable and logical compliment to the aesthetic procedures dentists perform on many of their patients. The market comprises millions of men and women of all ages who currently invest billions of dollars annually to improve and maintain their appearance and statistics predict continued market growth. Dentists with their dedicated patient base require little marketing effort to capitalize on this profitable growth opportunity, which has already changed the face of many dental practices across the country. Additional complimentary services may include after care products, Botox injectables and Restalyne fillers and the growth of The Dental Spa may include partnerships with MD’s to perform these advanced treatments.

The perception of today’s dental experience has evolved from one of fear, stress and anxiety to one of rejuvenation, wellness and aesthetic improvement. The aesthetic services provided outside of the mouth don’t involve costly insurance administration, as they are paid for by patients directly. Don’t miss this profitable growth opportunity to capitalize on a multi-billion dollar market focused on aesthetics and immediate gratification. To learn more about The Dental Spa or to attend a complimentary seminar, contact The Institute For Laser Dentistry toll free; 1-877-819-6060, Email

The Institute for Laser Dentistry (ILD)

The Institute For Laser Dentistry has over 25 years experience in the implementation of multiple surgical and dental laser technologies and is the world largest vendor independent dental laser training & certification organization. Canada’s premier provider of dental laser solutions, they provide introductory and advanced programs, informational seminars and symposiums and internationally recognized operator certification programs for multiple surgical dental lasers, aesthetic lasers and intense pulsed light technologies. The Institute For Laser Dentistry 1-877-819-6060, e-mail: tascgroup

Christopher Schmid is VP Clinical Education & Certification Programs, Institute For Laser Dentistry (ILD).

Oral Health welcomes this original article.