November 30, 2020
Suresh Goel, DDS, MSD
Marty Klein: Welcome to Dentistry for the New Millennium. I’m Marty Klein, Training Manager at the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry. My guest today is Dr. Suresh Goel, a periodontist in Rochester, New York. Dr. Goel is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Dentistry, where he also earned his post-doctoral degree in periodontics. He’s a club director with the Seattle Study Club and also serves as a certified instructor with the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry. Today we’ll discuss Dr. Goel’s journey from acquiring his first Periolase MVP-7 to amassing an entire fleet of them. Dr. Goel, thanks so much for being my guest today.
Dr. Suresh Goel: Marty, thank you so much for having me. You actually make me sound like a reasonable, respectable clinician, which I appreciate.
MK: Well, I do want to tell your story. Rather, I do want to allow you to tell your story from the beginning. So let’s start with your first exposure to LANAP, when and where that was, maybe your initial thoughts about it, and then how long it took for you to get trained?
SG: Well, I think about this question every now and then because, my first true official exposure to LANAP wasn’t really any exposure at all. It was actually through an advertisement in probably a pero journal at some point, back when I was in residency, and I graduated residency in 2001, so you can imagine how long ago that was. So imagine the year 2000. I saw an advertisement, and it was that classic ad that you see with the bone regeneration around the lower anterior. I remember looking at that and thinking to myself, “How would that be possible?” because in residency we’re learning about traditional surgery, flap surgery, bone grafting and so on, so forth. I just kind of passed it by, and I wonder what would have come to pass had, at that time, I’d been a little bit more curious and said, I’m going to investigate this. I’m gonna learn about this. My actual first exposure to the process or to LANAP and the LANAP family came many years later at a CE course I was attending. Millennium was there, and they were presenting some slides, and so on, as an adjunct to the course that was occurring, and it was mesmerizing what was happening. It was really just…If this is a way I can help patients, how am I not looking into this? The difference, I think, between the time I was in residency and four or five years later when I stumbled across the presentation of that CE course was that by that time I done enough periodontal surgery that I knew that patients didn’t seem to quite enjoy it as much as they should. I maybe didn’t enjoy doing it as much as I should, and the results always weren’t exactly kind of what I hoped they would be. Maybe in another folks’ hands traditional periodontal surgery is all of those wonderful things for patients, the clinician, and result buys. But in my hands, they really weren’t so. It was an opportune time thinking back again, in residency I wasn’t ready to hear something so different, so radical, if you will. But five years later, after seeing what I was working with, I think I was ready for something different, and that’s when I ended up buying, quite literally by accident, my first PerioLase.
MK: You bought it by accident? This was in 2005, by the way. Did you have laser experience at all that?
SG: Periodically I’ll make laser sounds, you know, Star Wars-like laser sounds. I enjoy doing that. But as far as professionally, in a dental sense, no. The way that it actually happened, that I ended up buying the laser, because it’s one thing to see it on the screen and say, “Wow, that’s amazing. I do wanna look more into this,” to actually 30 minutes later, owning one. My wife and young children were with me at that CE event, and I was going to meet them for lunch. Between the restaurant where they were and myself was the table with Millennium, with the Millennium representative. We got to chatting, and I just said, “You know what? Here’s what I’m gonna do, I’m gonna sign this paperwork, I’m gonna go have some lunch, and then I’ll figure it out later.” So I went ahead and I signed. I didn’t have a practice at the time, I was an associate and I signed the paperwork. I sat down for lunch with my wife and I said, “I’ll tell you something really weird. I think I just bought a laser.” She looked at me, and she knows to just ignore pretty much everything I say, and we just carried on with the rest of our lunch. Some months later, I get a call saying, “It’s time for your training!” and I said, “That’s tremendous! Training for what?” And it turns out it was for the laser and I thought, “Well, let’s go.” I went out to California, to Cerritos, and I’ll tell you, I sure am glad I did. Again, I didn’t have a practice at the time, I was an associate, and I was kind of doing this on my own. It really transformed the rest of my career. Had I not had that happenstance occur, had I not bought the laser that day, had I not been really hungry and just wanted to get to lunch, who knows what would have happened?
MK: Well, I know where this story is going, but I don’t want to tease it too much. I want you to next talk about you acquired the PerioLase, you went to training. What were the results that you started to see? What happened next?
SG: After I purchased the PerioLase and I had training, I returned to Rochester. I was working in an environment like a DSO-style environment, working in one or two different offices. It was great because I saw a variety of patients who had varying levels of knowledge about periodontal disease, and I found that the procedure was very well accepted across the board. I thought, “Wow, that’s really great,” because a lot of times you get a little bit of resistance when talking about periodontal surgery. Here we are talking to all these different folks who may or may not have been familiar with their periodontal disease status, and they’re saying, “Sure, let’s get through this.” It really seemed like the laser was a positive that they could look to that was something advanced and maybe more, I don’t want to say “fun” necessarily, but certainly more – no pun intended – palatable than maybe having their gums opened up. So I had a chance to do the procedure a number of times. I ended up opening my own practice and I had to make a decision: “What is my practice about? Who are we? What are we gonna be? What we want to do?” And I thought, “Why not make this the cornerstone of my practice? This is a great technology. It’s an exciting technology. It’s something unique in the marketplace. Let’s make this the cornerstone of the practice. This is gonna be who we’re about.” We opened our first office in November 2005, and I think we opened our second office in maybe March of 2006. We actually went direct to public with TV, with radio, with print, and a little bit of press releases, that sort of thing in January. We did that for 90 days, and it actually really, really, really helped us build the practice. Then after that we just kept growing and haven’t looked back since.
MK: You mentioned expanding the practice right away. Did you end up purchasing your second PerioLase or getting associates trained right off the bat? Right then?
SG: Yeah. So every time an associate joined our practice, we would send them for training. That was actually one of the conditions of their employment. I would say, “Look, we do things a little bit differently here. We have found this technology to be a benefit for our patients, and this is how we really want to treat people when appropriate. So this training has to be part of what your onboarding experience is. Now sometimes, if you go back in time, you’ll hear how some periodontists were resistant a little bit to newer technologies such as the PerioLase, as one example. What I found was the doctors that I was bringing in really were excited about it. There wasn’t any resistance to learning what was possible for patients, and that was really great that these docs, although they just come out of residency potentially, were willing to learn one more thing at that early stage that would dramatically change how they treated patients, but also enable them to move forward through private practice and grow their private practice. That was a nice thing, and I feel like that’s a nice thing that we were able to do for a lot of those young doctors. Over the years there’s been a number of them, and it’s been exciting to see how they take that information and continue on through their careers. The PerioLase is one of the few things that even 10 or 15 years or 20 years later, you’re still using that same machine. There’s not a lot of things like that in dentistry. From a procedure perspective again, there’s not a lot of procedures that endure for your whole career, but LANAP is one of those procedures. I’ll make the assumption that, for as many more years as I practice, I’ll still be practicing LANAP.
MK: Well, let’s just rip the Band-Aid off: How many PerioLase units do you own today?
SG: How many Periolase units do I own today? Well, more than a baker’s dozen, I’ll say that, probably 14 or 15. Our rule is we like to keep a couple per office. We like to use them for other procedures other than just LANAP. We use them in as many procedures as we can, even in any site with injection sites so on so forth. Then we like to have a couple of backups, because we do send them in for service. We have the service program on them, so we can keep them up to date and whatever needs to be done is done. So we do keep a couple extras. We have five or six offices now, so we have a couple sort of in our holding area, and if we do need to ship one out for service, we have those available. Having 14-15 lasers sounds like a lot, but just for the nature of our business, how much we use it, and how we wanna be able to have them available at all times…I think, also our commitment to the product. You know, it’s something that started my career in part, after 4-5 years, with my first PerioLase. I’ll probably be using that same PerioLase! That’s how robust, how strong, and how predictable they are. They are great machines. There’s not a lot of things in dentistry where you buy it at the beginning of your career and you’re still using that same thing, maybe the dental chair, by the end of your career. But I imagine that I’ll still be using my same PerioLase, my first one that I had, which is something that is definitely to the credit of the engineers who built that machine.
MK: Sure seems like the PerioLase is part of the lifeblood of your practices, and I have to presume that none of this would have happened were you not seeing a return on the investment. So I’d like, if you can, to tell me a little bit about that aspect for just profitability over the years.
SG: Well I think the PerioLase, it’s hard to quantify in a way, because return on investment implies that you’re spent some money, and then over time you’ve had a certain amount of revenue or a certain amount of profit from that item. How do you quantify that when you bought this item 15 years prior, yet today you still use it like you used it the day you purchased it? That and you’re doing a fair procedure that certainly commands a fee, and you could do a fair amount of that without a lot of associated overhead. So to say that it has a return on its investment, I think is certainly true. But I think that almost understates the true value and that it’s far beyond a return.
It’s really it’s a growth because you also have patients now that are returning back to the community and saying, “Look, this guy did these procedures for me and my gums are healthy. I’ve kept my teeth.” What’s the value in keeping a tooth? I always tell patients, “Look, implants are fine” and we certainly do implants here, but at the same time, if I can save all of your teeth for the expense of one implant, what’s the true return on this investment? You know, for me, sure it might be the revenue from the procedure. But when this patient goes and tells their friends that they were able to preserve all of their teeth for the expense of one implant versus spending $40, $50, or $60,000 on a number of implants, what’s the return for that person? And how do you quantify the benefit that that brings your practice? So I understand that certainly we wanna be able to say that there’s a tremendous return on the investment, but I think it goes so far beyond that into changing the character of how you can practice. It’s now collaboration with patients, for long-term health and for tremendous outcomes. I mean, is it too far to say we’re making the world a better place with LANAP? I don’t think that’s too far, because I think that if patient can save a year’s college tuition or two years’ college tuition (I’m not sure how much college costs) by not having to have implants and they can have LANAP. I think that’s almost unquantifiable.
MK: Well, Millennium’s slogan is, “It’s all about the patient.” So, I do appreciate you bringing it back to patients and how many you have treated over the years, which is, I’m sure, an astronomical amount with as many associates and PerioLases you have.
SG: So it’s interesting because they always talk about, “Well I’ve done 10,000 implants or 10,000 LANAP procedures,” and those numbers are far in the rear view mirror around here. If I could just do LANAP every day, you know, and that’s all I did, that’s what I would choose. I think it’s that impactful both for the patient and for me. You’re not winning against biology. You’re working with biology for great outcomes. You’re just changing the parameters a little bit and giving the body an opportunity to do what it wants to do, which is to be healthy. That, to me, is a really, really important and special win for everybody. There’s nobody that loses with LANAP.
MK: So one last question here: You became a certified instructor with the IALD. I’d like to find out a little bit about why you chose to do that and what it’s meant to you teaching this to other dentist over the years.
SG: Being an instructor with the IALD is without question the most important thing to me professionally in my career, and there’s two reasons for that. One, I feel that being able to share information, and I love the quality and the volume of information that we’re able to deliver during the courses, during the five days. Being able to share that with a number of clinicians at one time is, I think, the foundation of how we let what we do propagate throughout the country, throughout the world. If we wanna make the world a better place, that’s healthy, this is a good way to do that. The other thing is that years later, I may be in another course and someone will come up and say, “Hey, I don’t know if you remember me, but you are my instructor at Millennium,” and it could be [years] now, because I think in 2008 is when I became an instructor. Of course, every student that we teach, we absolutely remember that, because that is just such an important part of what we do. At least that’s how I feel personally. I just think it’s incredible when people remember their instructor from that and to hear what they’re doing with the information that you shared. It’s certainly not information we created, it’s Millennium’s information that we shared. But to hear, what they’ve gone on to do with it, how they’re changing their patients’ lives, how they’ve changed their practice, how they’ve shown their teams what’s possible, the eyes they’ve opened. And then they may have shared that information with another clinician. That’s how our family grows. Our family grows with great results and great experiences. And I have to give the training team so much credit, because that training process is really just the heart, in my opinion, of what makes LANAP so special. Yeah, absolutely, the machine’s incredible and the technique and the process is amazing, but the training process is just…it’s extraordinary. In all the continuing education that I’ve done, I’ve never experienced anything quite like that, and it is truly the most meaningful thing I have in my career.
MK: Well, I can’t think of where to go from there! That summarized it very, very well. I do want to give a plug to your website for those listeners that would like to learn more about Dr. Goel, it is www.rochesterperio.com. If you are listening to this and have not yet subscribed to the podcast, please do or visit LANAP.com/podcast. You can see all of the episodes that we’ve released. Dr. Goel, it’s always such a pleasure to talk to you. And thanks for carving out some time in your schedule for us today.
SG: My pleasure. If anyone has any questions that they want to reach me, you know they can message and get a hold of me. I’m absolutely happy to hear that. I love hearing from past students, and I love hearing from anyone that’s maybe considering joining the PerioLase family, the Millennium family. Absolutely. Please. Happy to talk to anybody. I’ve seen how it changes people’s lives. I’ve seen how it’s changed my career. I certainly would not be where I am without LANAP, and that’s something that, you know, you really can’t say about a lot of procedures out there, so I really appreciate that. I appreciate everything you guys do.