Investment in new technology such as dental lasers can be a tough dental management decision.
There are plenty of questions that need answers before making a purchase. For example, how big is the price tag, and how soon will you see a return on your investment?
And from a dental marketing standpoint, will it help you acquire more new patients, or keep more of your current ones?
We decided to get some answers. In this survey, we asked dentists about their experiences and opinions surrounding dental lasers for their practices.
We found that the most popular dental laser uses are for periodontal surgery, removing tooth structure for restoration and removing tooth decay.
A few of our surveyed dentists also use lasers to cure restorative materials, and for retraction/troughing when preparing a tooth for a crown.
Of the dentists who responded to our survey, 36% have dental lasers and are satisfied with their investment.
A New Jersey pediatric dentist said lasers make him more efficient and productive. He also stated that offering laser dentistry helps him get more referrals and retain current patients, as well as attract more new patients to his practice.
However, a couple of dentists added qualifiers to their positive responses.
“I don’t really consider my diode laser generating me money so much as preventing me from losing money. It’s a one trick pony that does that trick very well and that is retract tissue by creating a trough around the prep. Sometimes the cord just doesn’t work, enter the laser. The cartridges are expensive but I don’t have to have the patient come back after healing from crown lengthening,” explained a suburban dentist.
He added, “It’s just more efficient to have. Is it a deal breaker if you don’t have one? No, not at all. Patients really don’t care if you have a laser or not, in fact many people think you’re going to hurt them even though they’re numb. The idea that it makes you more technologically savvy is just ridiculous, no one cares. If you have done everything to get the impression but it’s not working, there’s nothing better than a diode laser and Expasyl.”
A dentist from Canada said he’s satisfied, “… BUT: laser dentistry is not profitable. It only allows me to do better dentistry. What do I charge extra to use laser vs drill? Would I buy full size laser again? Probably not. Other smaller, cheaper lasers allow me to do the same treatment.”
An Ohio prosthodontist is one of the 27% of our survey respondents who would like to get a laser but don’t have one yet: “Costs for lasers need to come down even further and the variety of uses needs to be expanded and improved.”
A rural California dentist added, “I would like to get a laser, but they are too expensive in a poor town during tough economy, where people find it difficult just to pay their co-pay!”
Some who offer laser dentistry are disappointed with their investment: 18% of dentists say having dental lasers makes no difference to their bottom line.
Another 18% don’t have a laser and don’t plan to ever offer laser dentistry. “It has wow value, but I can do anything I need to with an electrosurg that costs a fraction,” explained a Texas dentist.
Based on the responses to our survey, providing laser dentistry doesn’t automatically improve practice profits.
However if you’re in a market where your patients want it — or you can make them aware of its benefits through your dental marketing campaigns — it may be worth the investment.
What’s your opinion about the value of laser dentistry in your practice?