Evolving Dental Education Through Advanced Simulation 

By Dr. Rick Callan and Dr. Jerry Cooper, Promethean Dental Systems.

Dr. Rick Callan

Promethean Dental Systems began in 2019 with the primary goal of improving dental education using advanced simulation. Our team of experienced dental educators, technology specialists, and practice management experts has created a myriad of educational experiences designed to maximize the learning potential throughout the entire dental life cycle: from pre-admissions to retirement. 

Using digital dental technology, dental practice software, virtual didactic presentations, and hands-on simulation (both traditional and haptic), we seek to provide our colleagues the opportunity to increase their knowledge of dentistry, enhance their hand skills and technical expertise, and improve the efficiency of their practice.

Dental Education 

Jerry Cooper

The curriculum of the dental schools in the United States is regulated by the American Dental Education Association through a recurring seven-year accreditation cycle. Although the standards for accreditation are established by the American Dental Education Association, how a school achieves these standards is determined by the school itself.  Dental education has traditionally included the teaching of the basic sciences and necessary dental knowledge through a series of didactic lectures. 

This is followed by many hours of instruction and practice in a simulated environment utilizing a dental typodont.  Following the successful completion of these exercises, a student is permitted to practice these newly acquired skills on a patient in a closely monitored clinical setting. Graduates from ADEA accredited dental schools must pass a national board examination which affirms the knowledge of the science, materials, and techniques required of a professional dental practitioner. To acquire a license to practice in a particular state, each candidate must also pass a clinical examination which tests their diagnostic acumen, technical knowledge, and hand skills.

Dental materials and techniques continue to evolve, enhancing our ability to provide patients the opportunity to experience optimal oral health. Technology is changing not only the way we treat our patients, but also the way we educate our students. Contemporary learning theories and advances in the understanding of the cognitive process serve as guides on how to improve learning and enhance skill acquisition. Dental education and the dental profession should maximize the benefits of these important discoveries. 

Promethean Dental System’s multi-modal approach to learning combines modern learning theory with state-of-the-art technology. We believe students learn best, and retain information (and skills) longer, when they learn the information (or skills) in a variety of ways (multi-modal). This learning is best accomplished over a period of time, with properly spaced exposures to the information or task. Appropriate, timely feedback is also critical to the learning process. 

In addition to the time-proven use of the typodont for simulation of dental procedures, Promethean Dental Systems has implemented the use of the Simodont Dental Trainer. 

The Simodont Dental Trainer is a virtual-haptic simulator that provides a more realistic dental experience for its operator: virtual in the sense that you are working on something that isn’t really there, and haptic as a life-like sense of touch and feel. Add to these attributes the Simodont’s ability to create a self-learning environment, providing immediate feedback, both outcome and informational feedback. This coupled with the purely objective assessment provided by the Simodont makes it an ideal tool for both teaching and assessment. We also are strong believers in the adage that “Assessment Drives Learning.” 

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How To Build, Grow and Develop A Dental Practice

Tyson Downs

By Tyson Downs, owner, Titan Web Agency, a dental marketing agency. 

Growing a dental practice can be hard work. In fact, it takes more than just being confident in your abilities to grow and manage this type of business successfully – you need an understanding of the strategies that are crucial for creating patient relationships as well as dental marketing strategy.

A dental practice needs to be proactive in order to thrive. It’s not enough that they have the best equipment or services and provide high-quality care each day; marketing is just as important if you want people coming into your office on a regular basis.

There are many strategies for marketing with varying results, but using combination methods will yield better outcomes than trying one strategy without another complementing it effectively.

Here are three dental marketing strategies:

1. Ask your patient for reviews
Online reviews have been a key part of making business decisions for some time now, but the importance is growing. More and more people rely on online review sites when looking to buy products or services; this includes dental care providers. Google weights Maps search results based on review ratings – making it a key advantage (or disadvantage) for your SEO.

If you have an average 3.2 star rating on Google, and a competitor has a 4.7 rating, they’ll have a better chance of ranking above you. In addition, maintaining positive reviews can help build customer loyalty and attract new patients by improving brand perception in their eyes; however, negative feedback could hurt both current and prospective patients.

2. Start a Google Ad Campaign
Google Ads is a platform that allows you to have your ad displayed when someone searches for certain keywords e.g. dentist in + location. When using this type of advertising, it’s important not only do you target location-based keywords but also use descriptions and headlines to highlight unique offers or other features about your practice which set you apart from others.

3. Sign up for competitor emails and newsletters
You can learn a lot about your competition by listening to the way they communicate with their customers. You might be surprised at what you hear. On average, how often do they follow up after phone calls or emails? What type of promotions and discounts do these other dentists offer to prospective patients—do they have any loyalty programs set up.

Another important question would need answering here: “How does this particular office make referrals?” Is there an app involved somehow – maybe something like Groupon where people get discounted services instead-or just word of mouth alone?

How Associate Pay Can Vary From Practice To Practice

Dr. Suzanne Ebert

By Dr. Suzanne Ebert, vice president, dental practice and relationship management, ADA Business Innovations Group.

Everyone is happier when their pay is appropriate for their work. Yet I hear from far too many associates who don’t understand how their compensation is calculated – or how much it can vary. .

It’s relatively easy to understand a straight salary, typical for those working in public health, academia, or government agencies. It gets more complicated for those paid in whole or on some percentage of their overall productivity in the office, which is the more common scenario for dentists employed in private practice or DSOs. Pay is typically based on total production, billable production, or total collections in these cases.  To understand how variable take-home pay can be, let’s start by defining a few key terms:

Total production: the amount the practice can be paid based on the practice’s fee schedule

Billable production: the amount the practice can collect (dictated by a third-party payor)

Collections: what the practice actually collects for the procedure

Collection percentage: (collections/production) x 100

You should first consider the total production versus billable production. If the total production is equal to the billable production, it can be assumed that the practice is not a participating provider with PPO or DMO plans. If these numbers are quite different, it will be important to ask a few questions:

 An example of associate pay

Ms. Smith comes in for a crown. The practice’s fee schedule for a crown is $1,500. This is the total production. Ms. Smith’s PPO allows a maximum of $1,000 for a crown and the practice CANNOT collect the difference from the patient. That makes the billable production $1,000. Per the plan, the payor pays $500, and Ms. Smith’s practice bills $500. She pays $450, and the practice writes off the final $50. That means the total collection for this treatment was $950 out of a possible $1,000, for a collection percentage (of billable production) of 95%.

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Pacific Dental Services Recognizes American Heart Month with Awareness and Volunteer Campaign

Dental support organization Pacific Dental Services (PDS) is joining healthcare professionals nationwide in recognizing American Heart Month by raising larger awareness of the link between oral health and heart health with campaigns in February targeted toward patients and its own team members.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States according to the American Heart Association. There is increasing research indicating the connection between oral health and heart health is even more pronounced than experts previously thought. About 90% of middle-aged adults and more than 74% of young adults have one or more risk factors for heart disease. Risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity and gum disease or oral inflammation.

Periodontitis is a severe gum infection affecting 740 million people, making it is the sixth-most prevalent disease worldwide. One study showing the association between periodontal disease and atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases suggests that the risk factor of gum disease may initiate the development, maturation and instability of atheroma in arteries and conversely when the condition of one disease improves, it positively impacts the condition of the other. Early diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease can greatly impact and improve the status of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases.

A new report from the National Institutes of Health summarizes that Americans’ oral health has largely worsened over the past 20 years and that movement toward integration of dental and medical services is an important strategy to improve patient care. Gary Pickard, Pacific Dental Services’ senior director of government and industry affairs, was a contributor on the report.

“Pacific Dental Services continues to lead the way in highlighting the connection between oral health and overall health, or what we call the Mouth-Body Connection, and the importance of dental-medical integration,” said Stephen E. Thorne IV, founder and CEO, Pacific Dental Services. “Our goal throughout American Heart Month is to continue educating our patients, team members and communities we serve about the importance of maintaining good oral health. A healthier smile lowers the risk of heart disease, which in turn creates a healthier heart.”

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Experts Develop Model Dental Therapy Regulations

The National Partnership for Dental Therapy (NPDT) announced the release of the Model Dental Therapist Rule and Best Practices Guide (the Model Rule), which will support the implementation, regulation and growth of the dental therapy profession. It was written by the National Model Dental Therapy Rule Panel, a group of 15 experts with extensive experience in the regulation of dental professions, administrative law, Tribal law and dental therapy.

“The release of the Model Rule is another positive step in getting dental therapists into the field to provide effective, equitable and community-informed treatment to historically-excluded populations,” said Tera Bianchi, program director for the Dental Access Project at Community Catalyst, a co-chair of NPDT.

The Model Rule will provide guidance to policymakers, state licensing agencies, dental boards, Tribes, dental and nonprofit organizations, and other interested stakeholders in states that enacted dental therapy legislation and are planning regulatory implementation. This publication is another valuable tool for the development of state-level infrastructure for dental therapy education, practice and implementation. Other fundamental resources include model dental therapy legislation and the Commission on Dental Accreditation’s (CODA) national dental therapy education standards.

Kristen Mizzi Angelone, senior manager at The Pew Charitable Trusts, said, “The Model Rule provides evidence-based guidance that states need to develop rules to regulate the licensure and practice of this growing dental profession in the U.S. Along with the model legislation and CODA standards, this publication offers state stakeholders a foundation of dental therapy resources and reference materials as they move to authorize the practice of dental therapy, educate dental therapists, and then integrate these providers into their dental delivery systems—improving oral health and increasing access to care.”

Dental therapists, skilled dental professionals similar to physician assistants in medicine, have been working around the world for 100 years and in the U.S. since 2005, beginning in Alaska Native communities. They are currently authorized to practice in a dozen states around the country, but many states have yet to complete the complex rulemaking process.

Pacific Dental Services Hits $2 Billion Revenue Milestone  

Pacific Dental Services (PDS), one of the nation’s leading dental support organizations, today announced a key milestone in its growth journey. Cumulative revenues for calendar year 2021 exceeded $2 billion, marking yet another significant achievement in the privately held organization’s 27-year history.
PDS’ revenues for 2021 exceeded $2 billion, marking a significant achievement in the organization’s 27-year history.

PDS’ unique business model enables dentists to own their dental practice and empowers them to spend more time with patients and less time on the administrative responsibilities of running a practice. PDS calls this their Private Practice + model. Because its supported dentists can leverage the operational support of the large business services organization, they have the freedom to focus exclusively on patient care while PDS remains focused on the business aspects of the practice.

Building upon this successful foundation, notable innovative technology implementations made to the business support platform in 2021 — particularly with the Epic electronic health record system which integrates a patient’s medical and dental records and KaVo OP 3D cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) systems — fueled PDS’ unprecedented growth. Additionally, the organization remained focused on raising awareness on a national scale about the critical link between oral health and overall health – what PDS and its supported practices call the Mouth-Body Connection.

Commenting on the milestone, Stephen E. Thorne IV, PDS Founder and CEO said, “Surpassing $2 billion in revenue in one calendar year is a benchmark that few privately held companies achieve. While we appreciate this moment, at PDS we are mindful that our success is not found in any aggregated number, but in the success of each individual dental practice, each owner dentist, and ultimately within each patient interaction. We know that the best clinicians don’t seek us out because of our size.

They come to work alongside our supported owner dentists knowing that they will receive mentorship and training from the best dentists in the world. They will have access to the best tools, systems and technology available in the industry. They will thrive in an environment that helps them elevate their role as a healthcare professional – not only in assisting patients with their dental needs but truly improving their overall health.”

Other key milestones for Pacific Dental Services in 2021 include:

  • First dental support organization in the world to implement Epic, the most widely used comprehensive health records system, into supported practices. Through Epic, dental practices can easily exchange patient data with other health care providers for improved overall patient care.
  • Implementing CBCT technology in 365 supported practices and using 3D imaging to help more patients with improved diagnoses, precise implant placements, and better clinical outcomes.
  • Producing and placing 468,211 dental restorations (crowns, inlays/onlays, and veneers) in 2021 alone using CEREC CAD/CAM technology.
  • Launching a one-of-a-kind dental-medical practice in support of whole-body health with the opening of three practices in one – general dentistry, pediatric dentistry and medical care. The innovative, integrated approach offers patients a holistic strategy to managing their overall health care through a variety of services.
  • Partnering with the American Diabetes Association to increase awareness of the link between oral health and diabetes.
  • Having a PDS executive serving on the CDC’s 10-person National Association for Chronic Disease Directors Medical-Dental Integration Steering Committee.
  • First in the dental industry to offer free college tuition to its team members through its College Advancement Program.
  • Partnered with Envista on a multi-year agreement to combine their independently developed machine learning capabilities into Envista’s sophisticated DTX Studio Clinic assisted intelligence (AI) software platform which PDS will deploy to its supported practices to bring the full benefits of AI-supported image sorting, interpretation, and analysis to its supported clinicians.
  • Opening its 863rd supported dental practice nationwide and contracting with its 683rd owner dentist.
  • First dental support organization to join an accountable care organization with a focus on improving the health of the diabetic population.
  • Serving as a collaborative medical and dental care team on Harvard Medical School’s Teaming and Integrating for Smiles and Health (TISH) initiative focused on strengthening primary care and oral health partnerships.
  • Launching a specialty dental support organization, Periodontics Health Group, in central Florida.
  • Creating a quarterly digital magazine, Generations of Smiles, focused on educating patients on how they can use good oral hygiene practices to improve their overall health.

How AI Is Transforming Dental Practice Transitions

Dr. Suzanne Ebert

By Dr. Suzanne Ebert. Dr. Ebert built a successful dental practice from scratch. After selling her practice, she became the dental director of a federally qualified health center where she provided high quality care to underserved populations. She joined ADA Practice Transitions (ADAPT) as the ADA Advisor to provide real and tangible benefits to dentists as well as helping to address access to care issues across the country. She is currently ADAPT’s VP of Dental Practice & Relationship Management.

In 1994, Kiss.com, the first modern dating website, created an entirely new type of experience. When Kiss.com launched, we could not have imagined how our routine interactions would change from face-to-face to digital over the years. Artificial intelligence (AI) was still science fiction. In less than 20 years, AI has changed how we shop, how products are delivered and how we find our life partners.

Dental practice transitions have traditionally been accomplished by a low-tech process, just like dating used to be.

By using a primarily digital environment, today’s dentists can now find the perfect match (whether practice or person), manage the evaluation, and complete a transaction with greater efficiency and success. AI has the potential  to uncover great opportunities a dentist may have overlooked, similar to Netflix, StitchFix, Priceline, or other tech-first companies.

By integrating AI into practice transitions, dentistry can achieve three goals:

  1. Better matches
  2. Reducing the cost of the average practice transition
  3. Providing coaching to help dentists navigate their transitions

Why it’s vital to find the correct match

Picture your dental utopia. Now imagine what happens when your utopia clashes with established office norms. Perhaps you expect the office to run highly efficiently with shorter appointments, but your patients and staff expect you to listen to all the details of their personal life. With that kind of mismatch, someone is bound to be unhappy. You may dread going to work, your staff may quit, or your patients may go to another dentist.

It is why a dental practice transition model should be rooted in matching dentists with shared philosophies of care.

In talking with dentists, I have heard far too many stories of those who settled in a practice that wasn’t quite right, only to leave a year or two later. When that happens, everyone loses: the practice, the staff, and the patients.

Blending technology with a human touch

At ADA Practice Transitions (ADAPT), when you create a profile to buy, sell, join, or hire, you fill out an in-depth questionnaire that enables you to share your personal preferences. A series of filters then process the profiles to show the (human) ADA Advisor several potential matches and rank them according to how well the profiles align. Next, the Advisor validates the suggested matches, applying feedback and additional input they have received from you and the other dentists, ultimately enhancing the matching algorithm with a transition expert’s human touch.

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Spring Dental Rebrands To Lumio Dental

Lumio Dental | LinkedInSpring Dental, founded in 2014 by Dr. Creed Cardon and Mike McInelly, announced today that it has rebranded to Lumio Dental. Rated as one of the fastest-growing dental groups in the nation for the last three years, Lumio Dental is a dental partnership organization that owns and operates more than 60 dental offices throughout Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

Spring Dental has existed as both the name of the parent company as well as the name of one of the company’s more than 25 regional brands. In order to have a name that encompasses all of its regional brands, the parent company has been rebranded to Lumio Dental. Spring Dental will remain as one of its regional brands.

“As we continued to grow, we recognized we needed a parent company name to represent all of our regional brands,” McInelly stated. “We’re excited to have this name grow with us throughout the coming years.”

“We derived the name ‘Lumio’ from the word ‘illumination’,” noted Dr. Creed Cardon. “The name signifies our goal to light the paths of our partners, associates, and team members in both their personal and professional lives. We’re excited to see what the future has in store for Lumio Dental, and thankful for the hard work of our incredible team for helping us achieve this exciting milestone.”

Headquartered in Tulsa, OK, Lumio Dental is passionate about providing the communities they serve with exceptional, affordable and convenient dental care. Lumio Dental employs over 500 dental professionals and offers comprehensive family dentistry, including cosmetic and restorative, pediatric dentistry, prosthodontics, endodontics, oral surgery, and implants. Learn more at LumioDental.com or linkedin.com/company/lumiodental.

Vyne Trellis Evolves To Further Optimize Dental Billing While Adding a Suite of Communication Tools

Vyne Dental, a leading provider of revenue cycle, claims and practice management solutions, and electronic health information exchange for all-sized dental practices, announces sweeping, comprehensive enhancements to its Vyne Trellis platform.

Vyne Trellis, one of the dental industry’s most comprehensive revenue cycle and communications engines, provides a robust end-to-end dental billing solution for dental claims management, including simple, integrated electronic attachments, batch and real-time eligibility and benefits verification, all in one intuitive, easy-to-use solution.

A few of Vyne Trellis’ most innovative enhanced features include:

Vyne Trellis continues to evolve and, in so doing, redefine what “revenue cycle management solution” means to the dental practice. Throughout 2021, Vyne Dental strategically expanded its portfolio to add simple, customizable electronic forms, text and email reminders, online reviews, and secure communications, including email and inter-office chat portfolio.

This strategic shift allows dental practices on Vyne Trellis to initiate the electronic, automated interaction with their patients much earlier in their journey, thus ensuring a timely resolution to all revenue collection attempts, while simultaneously improving patient experience, reducing friction, and cutting costs.

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Marquee Dental Partners Launches Its New Brand In Tennessee

Marquee Dental Partners announces the launch of its consumer-facing dental brand, Marquee Dental. The Marquee Dental brand will be used to directly expand Marquee’s industry-leading approach into select communities. The new brand operates with the belief that better smiles lead to better health and that better health leads to better lives.

“I am proud of the work our branding team did to create and launch Marquee Dental,” said Fred Ward, Marquee Dental Partners’ chief executive officer. “We have an ethos at Marquee Dental Partners of healthiness and happiness that gets passed onto patients. We are proud of that. More functionally, this branding work will help inject numerous efficiencies into our De Novo strategy.”

The first Marquee Dental office will open in late December 2021 in Smyrna, Tennessee; a bedroom community of Nashville, TN.  The office will be led by Dr. David Dewberry and a team of highly trained dental professionals. Dr. Dewberry joined Marquee Dental after practicing for several years in Southern California.

Marquee Dental also launched its consumer-facing website, MyMarqueeDental.com. The site focuses on providing its users an easy and efficient way to access their dentist.

“We want an experience that makes our patients feel welcome and cared for. We also want a culture that acknowledges and honors the great work that dental professionals do every day. With the Marquee Dental brand, we get to do both,” said Marquee Dental Partners vice president of marketing, Rich Palumbo. “We are excited to be able to speak directly to these patients and communities through this new brand.”

The new Marquee Dental office in Smyrna is scheduling appointments now.

Marquee Dental Partners now operates nearly 60 dental offices across five states and supports more than 100 dentists.