As the LANAP Clinician family continues to grow, our doctors play an important role in advancing the field of dentistry with forward thinking that puts the patient first. Periodically, we will highlight a clinician to get their perspective on the state of dentistry, LANAP cases, and more.
Metro Detroit area-based LANAP Clinician Roman Shlafer, DDS, PLLC weighs in on challenges in the field, the role of technology in dentistry and the future of the field.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of being a dentist today?
The most challenging, but also most fulfilling, aspect to modern dentistry is properly diagnosing and creating customized treatment plans. In many ways, dentists continue to provide cookie-cutter solutions, but today’s technology makes possible an amazing degree of individualization that tailors the treatment to the patient’s exact needs.
By combining technology like LANAP, CBCT, in-office milling machines, and AI in our office we can revolutionize a patient’s dental treatment path by providing exactly what’s needed and minimizing the probability of post-treatment complications. This will translate into better results and lower long-term dental care costs for the patient.
What are your patients’ most frequent reasons for refusing treatment?
Patients’ primary reasons for refusing treatment are fear of discomfort, needles, and surgery, along with concerns about cost.
Treatment of moderate to advanced periodontal disease with the LANAP helps patients to treat their disease with a comfortable, pain-free alternative to traditional surgery and give them a healthy mouth for their lifetime.
Do you find that having the LANAP treatment as an option improves patient acceptance?
Most definitely. LANAP provides many advantages compared to more traditional surgery. It is a laser treatment, with no surgical knives, stitches, or swelling or sensitivity like traditional surgery. Patients are relieved and thrilled to find there is a better option to treat gum disease that is comparable in price. Additionally, my patients have expressed their amazement at the lack of pain or discomfort during the post-operative recovery. Many patients return to work the same day, in fact.
As a 10+ year LANAP veteran, what perspective do you have on how LANAP has affected and/or improved your practice (acceptance, ROI, ease of procedure on you as a clinician, etc.)?
LANAP makes possible a very customizable, revolutionary procedure that produces fantastic results without the discomfort and fear that tend to be associated with traditional surgery. Because the cost of treatment remains around the same, LANAP has helped increase treatment acceptance rate, not only allowing us to raise the average patient lifetime value but also to provide a much higher level of care.
What are your long-term LANAP results like?
With LANAP, we have changed peoples’ lives. We’ve been able to treat cases requiring bite correction, bone regeneration, and have combined the technology with other procedures like dental implant treatment. The capabilities of LANAP are extraordinary, from periodontal therapy to frenectomies.
What are your pain points in integrating new technology into your practice?
The single greatest pain point in integrating new technology is marketing it in a way that compels and empowers patients. Oftentimes, technology can come off as abstract or intimidating, and marketing materials are often overly technical as opposed to focused on validating the concerns of the patient. Greater brand awareness of different technologies, including LANAP, would help doctors like me attract more patients based on the value of the technology.
Where do you see the field of dentistry going in five years?
We are undergoing a digital revolution and, in five years, the fruit of this technological transition will be even more prominent. From digital impressions to digital techniques, as well as automation and the decreasing cost (or increasing quality) of in-office technology, digitalization will dominate this industry.
Furthermore, the rise of corporate dentistry will be mirrored by growth in boutique dental offices. Whereas corporate dentists can offer cheaper treatments to a wider population, they often lack the specific expertise and quality of a boutique office.
The quality that a boutique practice like mine comes from the level of personal attention that we can give to each individual patient. When we talk about using digital technologies to personalize this treatment, this has to be understood within the context of a balanced mix between technology and human touch. The human element can never be replaced, and it shouldn’t be. But, it can be complemented in ways that enhance the overall experience.
What do you think needs to happen for patients to take their oral health (and, consequently overall health) more seriously?
In part, greater efforts in dental education will inspire more patients to more seriously think about their oral health. At the same time, the health benefits of dentistry are in many ways emotional. Patients must experience the difference to truly appreciate it. A dental implant has tangible and important health benefits, but these benefits are ultimately experienced as feelings. Bridging the gap between technical education and how the patient understands her own needs is crucial for imparting a better understanding of oral well-being.
“Kaizen,” the Japanese word for “continuous improvement,” serves as one of the guiding principles for Dr. Shlafer, who has run a private practice in Farmington, MI for three decades. Dr. Shlafer provides a variety of general, cosmetic, and restorative dental treatments and is always seeking out technological advancement that will enhance a patient’s experience. He has been LANAP trained since 2007. Visit him to learn more or schedule an appointment at romanshlaferdds.com.