July 27, 2020
Michael Colleran, DDS
Marty Klein: Welcome to Dentistry for the New Millennium. I am Marty Klein, Training Manager at the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry, and today we’re speaking with Dr. Michael Colleran from San Luis Obispo, California. Dr Colleran is a graduate of the University of Pacific and has always called the Golden State home, both personally and professionally. He lectures regularly on laser dentistry and has authored several articles on the subject as well. He also serves as a certified instructor with the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry. Today, we’ll talk about his journey with LANAP and the PerioLase, his online presence, and a couple of recent published articles that he authored. Dr. Colleran, thanks so much for being here with us today.
Dr. Michael Colleran: Thank you for having me.
MK: So Dr. Colleran, I looked up that you acquired your PerioLase in 2006 which was somewhat of an early adopter in the grand scheme. There were not a whole lot of other dentists yet doing LANAP, and you’re a general dentist, I should point out. Can you tell us a little bit about your thinking at that time? How you heard about LANAP and why you were looking to treat perio in your GP practice?
MC: Yes, The initial exposure that I had to lasers in perio was with diodes. There were a few practitioners out there saying that you could do laser treatment with diodes and have pretty good success, and they showed a few cases that worked all right. Having acquired a diode I attempted it, and it really had mixed results. Some of the teeth responded, and everything was fantastic. We got down to normal pockets and things were fine. But two teeth away from that in the same patient’s mouth, we would have another tooth, which started out with the same pocketing and was basically failing, and we would end up having to take that tooth out. I found that it was very irregular in the results, so I decided that lasers in perio didn’t work. Of course, in my travels online, that took me up against some people in DentalTown who felt differently. One of those was Dr. Bob Gregg, who engaged in some friendly discussions about why lasers actually were working in dentistry and in periodontics, more specifically. But it took probably about a year of convincing me to even think about trying it again. Then it took me about another year or so to decide, “Well, I’ll go ahead and get this laser and prove them all wrong.” Then it was about another six months later that I decided, “Well, this is actually the thing that is going to be saving teeth for the rest of my career.”
MK: Sounds like it was quite a long process then. It certainly wasn’t a split-second decision.
MC: Yeah, definitely. At the time, there was not a whole lot out there as far as keeping teeth in periodontics. A lot of the periodontists had gone to, pretty much, “A tooth gets to a certain pocket level, extract it, replace it with an implant.” I didn’t really like telling my patients, “So, it’s got a deep pocket. We can’t do anything. It’s got to come out. The only result is either a bridge or an implant.” This coming along and being able to save teeth was huge for me and being able to say, “Hey, this is gonna be fine. We’ll take care of it. You’ll be healthy.” And I had the confidence to say that in the experience that I had being able to save all these teeth.
MK: You mentioned DentalTown. I want to talk about that in a moment. But first, just thinking again, back to that time when you first started doing it. What were some of your colleagues in your area’s reaction? What were other GP’s thinking or saying? And how about the periodontists in your area as well?
MC: Well, in my area, the GP’s were kind of interested, but not really interested in doing it themselves. They were kind of interested in, “Oh, this is a new procedure. How does it work? What can you do with it?” With the specialists in my area, I became much less popular and I didn’t get taken out to lunch much.
MK: Has that changed over time?
MC: Um, a little bit. Unfortunately, the periodontists that were there when I started have almost all retired, and now I’m onto a new crop of them that because we didn’t develop a relationship in the first place. I haven’t even had much contact with. So in my area, I’m not really known as someone who is a popular person among the periodontists.
MK: Is there any other way, over the last 14 years of doing LANAP, that LANAP has either changed your practice or your reputation, or just even among your own patients? What have you seen in the time that you’ve been doing LANAP?
MC: Well among my own patients, it’s great because lot of people come in with treatment plans to have all of their teeth extracted and put in dentures or, a very expensive, All On Four hybrid fixed denture. When they find out that we’re able to save the teeth and keep them healthy for pretty much the rest of their life, they see me as a hero and someone who can just do fantastic things. Which it isn’t that fantastic for me personally, because almost anybody can do this procedure. But it is something that makes it so that my patients have the treatment and then refer in people they know who have had problems with periodontal disease also. In my practice, it’s been a really, really big booster for, not only production, but just general overall low stress and feeling good about what I do is a practitioner.
MK: We do like to say, “It’s all about the patient,” so that’s always good to hear.
MK: So I did tease that I would get back to DentalTown, and some may know you from DentalTown as “Cletus” or “Cletus the Slack-Jawed Dentist.” I want to hear about how that all came about, how prolific you were at the time, and how/if it has affected how you practice over the years… your participation in DentalTown, I mean.
MC: Definitely! The early days of the internet and having a place where dentists could actually go and share different things about practicing dentistry at the time was a very interesting concept, and Dental Town was the pretty much number one place for that to happen. In the early days of the internet, they always encouraged you to use a nom de plume or go incognito. Rather than putting my name out there and possibly having it be stolen by someone, I used the moniker of Cletus the Slack-Jawed Dentist, pretty much so that no one would expect really anything that I would say had much intelligence to it anyway. After a while I got to know a number of people online personally, and then attending meetings, would recognize them. Really, it was a nice way to get people off of their own islands and into things together: sharing procedures, materials, and business practices so that we could all become better dentists. Over time, I’ve kind of slipped away from that in my career, but it was a way for people to share information and get them together in a way that hadn’t happened before. A lot of that was attempted with dental meetings, but there wasn’t any other contact other than the meetings. This gave you contact 24/7 and really was a lot of fun!
MK: When you mention it was the impetus for bringing LANAP to your attention and to research that in particular, and that kept going. I know that LANAP was discussed a lot on DentalTown, and you were a part of many of those discussions as you became a practitioner and later an instructor.
MC: Yeah, definitely. There was a lot of interest in lasers at the time and how they would apply to dentistry. A lot of lasers out there were kind of devices looking for a purpose. With LANAP, I think the sweet spot was found for a laser to not only be productive in your practice, be profitable, but also be a positive outcome for your patients. So it really is a big win-win-win to have the PerioLase working for you in your practice.
MK: So you were involved in a couple of articles, or Q and A’s, recently: One in Compendium in 2016, and then Inside Dentistry a year later, along with Drs. Colin Richman and Paul Rosen. Can you tell us a little bit about how those articles came about or have your answers to any of them in within the articles changed since they came out?
MC: Yeah. The answers haven’t really changed, I would say, but they have added more to the way the laser works in my practice. We have had changes in the naming of the protocol, from LANAP to LAR or Laser Assisted Regeneration. We’ve also added more of a laser treatment for implants. And so those things have not really changed the answers that I gave back then, but they would add to those answers that I gave back then.
MK: Okay. Now, there’s another article – it wasn’t published – it’s more internal I suppose, that you’re known for at least among LANAP clinicians, and that’s “20 Common Mistakes of LANAP and LANAPers.” Now, you’re certified instructor, and can you tell us a little bit about how that list came about, or how it relates to the year-long LANAP continuum of the new LANAPer.
MC: Yeah. The list came about as I was preparing to do a lecture on things that… it was actually two people who are doing LANAP, and what were the things that were the most common mistakes that people were making. As an instructor, I saw some of those myself and I decided to take a survey of my fellow instructors and see what it was that came up continually during training as mistakes that people were making, either in the perception of the procedure or exactly how to do things. The survey came up and gave me a list, definitely a Top 10, but extended out to Top 20 things that people were doing. The nice thing is that people come back to their training after they’ve completed their 1st three days of training, they come back six months later to complete another day of training, and six months after that they get another day of training. So in these second and third days of clinical training were able to correct those mistakes, that everyone kind of develops bad habits over time. I know when I was going through, there were some perceptions that I had of certain things that it was like, “Oh, really? Were supposed to be doing it like that. Okay.” So it happens. When we bring people to training, we give them about six months’ worth of information over a weekend, and it’s a lot to take in. There’s no way that you can remember everything, but that’s why we have you back six months later to correct those problems, to fill in the gaps, to make sure that everything is being done the way that it should be done. Then even another six months later, we have you back and make sure that everything is pretty much to the point where you are a perfect practitioner of the procedure.
MK: So in other words, mistakes will happen, but there’s opportunity to course correct. And that’s part of your job as an instructor, sounds like.
MC: Exactly! That is the beauty of the way we have training set up. We can correct problems that come up relatively quickly, so that you don’t burn them into your memory as being absolute, and by the time you come back in six months, we can actually turn you around on that.
MK: Well, great. Well, we really appreciate you being here to share your experiences, both real world and online, and as an instructor and an author. So thank you again, Dr. Colleran.
MC: Well, thank you for having me. It’s been good to be here.
MK: And if any listeners are interested in more information about the various articles we’ve discussed in this podcast, you can visit LANAP.com and click on the Research tab at the top. And if you’d like more information about Dr. Colleran and his San Luis Obispo, California practice, visit Slotownsmiles.com.