Embrace Technology – Planning for the Future of Dentistry





By Lexi Marino April 3, 2020

Rolando Mia, from Zyris, hosts a video series focused on the latest news, topics, and conversations happening in dentistry featuring dentists across the nation. Faced with uncertain times, we interviewed Dr. Bryan Laskin, from Lake Minnetonka Dental and Opera, DDS, where he explains how we can plan for the future of dentistry by embracing technology.   

Watch this video to learn the following:

  • The importance of technology and how crisis type situations change industries.
  • Why overcommunication with your patients and teams is important.
  • Types of emergency procedures to consider how to assess what is an emergency or not.
  • High-speed continuous suction of aerosols – importance of isolation.
  • Prediction that medicine will merge with dentistry post COVID-19

Transcription

Rolando Mia:

All right. So we are live. Good afternoon everybody. Good afternoon, dr Laskin. Great to see you. I appreciate you taking the time, everyone. This is Rolando with Zyris and as part of our series, we’re here with Dr. Bryan Laskin. He’s another one of our long time good friends, also a really knowledgeable dentist in the space.

We’ve been talking a lot and so many things are happening and what we’re going to be doing is spending a little bit of time here to get Dr. Laskin’s perspective on a lot of things in addition to being the owner and running his dental practice in Minnetonka. He’s also a small business owner. He’s the inventor of Opera DDS as well as a bunch of other platforms we may get into. Dr. Laskin is also the Chief Innovation Officer for Dental Care Alliance. So first of all, welcome. Thank you for taking the time and really appreciate you spending it with us.

Bryan Laskin:

Well, thank you very much for having me. I’m a big fan as you know, of Zyris and not just what you guys do, but how you do it. It’s really a great asset to the profession. So thanks for having me.

Rolando Mia:

Awesome. So I’m going to start out by, you know, since I guess dentistry, you know, everything you’ve seen so far is that everything’s shutting down, you’re probably not that busy, or are you? How, how is it going with you and, and what’s up there?

Technology in Dentistry

Bryan Laskin:

Well, I guess it’s surreal. I am sort of lucky or cursed to be involved in many things. Like you said, there’s several companies that I’m part of and the dental practice is shutdown. There’s, you know, we’re just, we’re seeing emergencies and we’re doing some really neat things I think around seeing emergencies now, but other parts of my business are just taking off, exploding.

We’ve had a teledentistry application for a couple of years that everybody really thought was cool but didn’t quite understand, and they’re getting up to speed really quick. Now, teledentistry has really come to the forefront of how we triage today. I’ve been kind of beating that drum for a couple of years but now the timeline between when we were there, when everybody else got there, got compressed due to this crisis.

Rolando Mia:

So when you look at it, it’s interesting. It seems like you’re right, I saw some all sorts of feedback and information about how, with the advent of quote-unquote, our new normal, how do you see this affecting dentistry? I mean, beyond just teledentistry, there’s a lot of talk about when to go to the dentist, all that type of stuff, especially given all the issues. How do you see this kind of moving forward and turning our new normal?

Bryan Laskin:

Well, I think, you know, I think all of us feel like we were playing chess, you know, and then somebody came and wiped all the pieces off our board. Right? And so we’ve, we’re kind of figuring out what the, exactly, which is how you said, like, what, what’s going to happen here? And the way I’ve kind of look at it is that there’s going to be a societal shift and it will include dentistry, not just dentistry, but it will obviously include us too.

Right now I’m telling my team, like, this is not the time to be mediocre. This is the time to really, really crank, not just getting a lot of work done. Obviously the practice isn’t that busy but there are things to prepare for on the other end of this, and that’s not going to just happen. You have to, you have to set yourself up for success beyond this however long that may be.

There’s things that you can do during this time to be wildly productive and get things done. So I think specifically I do think that teledentistry is going to be here to stay. I don’t think things were going that direction. For somebody like me that’s a nerd that loves technology, it’s a great time because the, like I said, the people are getting there, they’re taking the time, they’re recognizing the value of leveraging technology for your practice right now.

I think that’s gonna really accelerate things. We have had to sort of like hold ourselves back because we’ve been too far ahead of the market sometimes and now it’s like, Oh, now we can jump ahead a little, you know, a couple a couple of steps and bring some different tools to dentistry. And just if you look historically based on what’s happened with other AIDS epidemic the financial, after a crisis like this, people are much more apt to change than previously.

You know, like on my podcasts which thanks for being on a future episode. But we talk about burying the dinosaurs in dentistry cause I feel like dentistry is 50 years behind where it should be and probably a hundred years behind where it could be, frankly. And, unfortunately, this crisis has happened and we’re going through it and we will get through it to the other side. That’s, you know, a big piece is just recognizing that this is a short period of time.

Even if it lasts for six months, it’s a short period of time. And so when we get on the other end of this, there’s going to be, people just in general are much more likely to embrace new things than they were previously. And for somebody like myself that’s leveraging exponential technologies, emerging technologies, it’s exciting cause people are more apt to embrace what we’re doing.

Rolando Mia:

That’s so cool. And it’s interesting when you mentioned it takes events like this to kind of give us a little poke in the butt to say Whoa, wait a minute, let’s go on. As far as, patients are concerned, what should we be saying to them or you know there are a lot of people who are you know, now is there, do you see people getting scared to go to the dentist because of, you know, Oh my goodness.

Spreading germs and all that type of stuff.

Planning for the Future

Bryan Laskin:

Well, great point. I think the key is to say something to people, don’t hibernate, bury your head in the sand and wait for this to pass over, over-communicate, not just with your patients but with your teams. Right? Everybody’s feeling there’s so much uncertainty, which is the best breeding grounds for anxiety both for patients and teams. Right. And so communicating, being reassuring, letting people know that you’re here for them. You know, there probably will be some people that that do have anxiety about coming in. So make sure to reassure them about our sterilization practices and, and that we treat everybody as if they’re infected. And so, you know, and if you have done extra sterilization protocols or whatever you’re doing, make sure to not keep it quiet, communicate it and keep consistently communicating with people.

I think that’s, this is not the time to, this is the time like to not be sending out messages to your, to your patients over a community. Indicate push them to your social media channels and be very active there. Cause there is going to be another side of this and you don’t want them to sort of kind of forget that you are, you want, you want to be top of mind and also reassure people cause we need it not, not just because it’s good for your business, but let’s face it, people just need reassurance at this time, need calm voices of reason to listen to.

Rolando Mia:

Awesome. I love the, I love the advice, especially regarding the context of social media because think about it. Everybody’s home so everybody is on and it’s that. What kinds of messages do you see or what do you think is important to get out there in addition to over-communicate? What are some of the key things that you feel are really important to get to them? To get to your, to get to your vendors, to get to the, to the team, all that type of stuff. What are some of those things that you feel are really important?

Bryan Laskin:

That we’re here for you. Like, if you have a dental emergency, we are not, I mean we can’t neglect our patients. And part of, part of being neglectful, I believe at this time would be not telling them that you’re here for them cause they probably don’t know that if you sent them a message saying we’re closed. Right. They may think you that you’re not there. Right. So, if you are close and you’re not seeing emergencies, at least tell them how they can get emergency service. I do think that at this time you should be messaging about your sterilization protocols.

Most people don’t communicate that stuff on the front end. So now it definitely is the time to be, be talking about it. For sure. Those are, those are the big things. And then I think just updates, you know, even if you have nothing to say, just checking in almost, especially with your team. Like we don’t know when we’re going to open. But, having regular meetings where you touch base and just kinda see how everybody’s doing is vitally important. You don’t need to have an agenda to touch base with somebody.

Rolando Mia:

I love that. You don’t need to have an agenda to touch base, especially since we’re not seeing each other on a regular basis anymore. It sounds like.

Bryan Laskin:

Yeah. Video chatting is – we had a meeting on Monday for my technology team and half the people didn’t have their cameras on. I’m like, that flew two weeks ago but now, we’ve got to, we’ve got to be able to have face to face communication to some degree whenever we can. Right.

Rolando Mia:

Yeah. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. So when you mentioned emergency procedures or what kind of emergency procedures are you currently dealing with and treating right now, you specifically, in your practice?

Bryan Laskin:

Well, I specifically is nothing. There’s another dentist here who’s handling all the emergencies and, you know, I think that’s … what’s an emergency and how to deal with it is a dentist by dentists. You know, she’s doing a phenomenal job upstairs taking care of our patients. And I think that that’s a personal dentist’s choice to decide what’s an emergency or not. I should mention though too, that, you know, oftentimes we have an assistant a front desk person and a dentist, but we typically have four dentists going at all times and an oral surgeon and an orthodontist.

We’re a very busy practice for a smaller practice, you might not be open every day from nine to one seeing emergencies like, like my office. And so, and you’ll see, you might not have the the team member that’s there. I want to, I’ve got to mention that like using an Isolite in those instances is perfect. You know, I’ve worked many, many times without an assistant using an isolate and not just for having it sort of like an extra set of hands, but also you’re evacuating aerosols, which is incredibly important at this time too. Right.

Rolando Mia:

When you say evacuating the aerosols, I see that. Expand on that a little bit with regard to, especially in emergencies.

Bryan Laskin:

Yeah. You probably know more than I do about it. But you know, when you have the Isolite wrapping around the contaminated area where you’re having a hand-piece going, it’s sucking all those aerosols down, the high speed suction where you have them going out into the operatory. And I’ve seen some studies where they compare to like an Isolite to a rubber dam for isolation and things. And, they always talk about the reduction in aerosols. And, you know, that’s not my area of expertise, but I do know that at this time when you want to reduce the aerosols, that’s, I’ve seen how you know, if you are seeing patients, if they have like a perio emergency, I’ve read to not use an ultrasonic right now and things like that. If you’re using, if you are creating aerosols, I think having something to reduce the amounts, like an Isolite is a phenomenal idea.

Making Bets on the Future

Rolando Mia:

Oh, I appreciate that. And I thank you for that. So, shifting gears slightly and there are a lot of young dentists right now or young practices that are individual, you know, single owner or you know, single practices or even with groups. And how, how do you see this or what advice would you give those folks who are, you know, freaking out about, “Oh my goodness, am I gonna make it through this?”

Bryan Laskin:

Yeah, those are two separate issues. Are you going to make it through this? Right. There’s SBA loans and a payroll pass and like two, what was it, $2 trillion in efforts that got passed yesterday. So I do think that there’s gonna be tons of aid for, for small businesses like dental practices, although that’s not my area of expertise like lending and getting loans is one thing. I think where my brain goes to is the opportunity on the other end there is, this is also, you know, in 2008, which is kind of the last economic crisis that I lived through.

I ended up buying a practice that was the same size as mine buying the building that I’m in right now, which is a three story building. I bought the lot where my house is. I like pushed all my poker chips in cause I was like, we’re flying into the abyss or on the other end of this things are going to, there’s going to be another end – this is the time to act and I feel that way now.

I feel that if you have the means to go all in, right now, I’m certainly looking for companies to purchase and things like that right now. Cause I feel like on the other end of this, there’s going to be a lot of people who are over leveraged who are thought thinking that the sunshine was always good.

The economy was always going up into the right, right. At a very high rate. Well those people right now are on sale. And so that’s kind of where my brain is at. Like on the other end of this, where’s the world going to be? Right? where’s the dental world going to be? It’s going to definitely going to be more consumerist, right? It’s going to be that is going to be, even, even that was a macro trend that was going to be, I believe to be, there’ll be faster now the merging of medicine and dentistry, right?

With a virus like this, that’s going to be huge, right? There’s going to be tons of companies on sale practices, frankly, on sale. There’s going to be a lot of dentists who planned on retiring in six months that aren’t retiring anymore. Right? if I had a practice, this would be the time I’d be looking, I’d be watching. I, I haven’t really been looking at it, but I would guess that legging here, there’ll be some commercial real estate that’ll be a good, good opportunity to buy a practice at very low rates.

Things like that. I mean I’m a pathological optimist, so I think I’m always looking the like, what’s the possibility? Like, what’s the what in every problem there’s an opportunity and there’s, you know, I believe that in times of crisis like this is when fortunes are made and this is a horrible epidemic. But the economic response to it, I believe regardless of how long it lasts, it’s going to be an overcorrection in a lot of ways. I believe. And if not, like I said, we’re all going to be in the trenches together, right? So, I’m looking at what’s happening and I went, okay, now’s the time to take the poker chips that I have over here and shove them in.

Rolando Mia:

I love the perspective. I love the perspective that because there’s adversity, there’s always going to be, I guess one of the things is you hear that in a crisis, we’re in a crisis, but the perspective you have is when, you know, I use this, I joke like you smell that, that’s opportunity. When there’s crisis, there’s opportunity to do things. And the position or the perspective you have is, it’s really refreshing. And really, really, very much appreciate the sentiment around it as well as the way to look at that. I think that’s important. I’ve spoken to a lot of dentists who are definitely having a lot of anxiety because I think the uncertainty is the biggest issue that people are facing. How do you, what advice would you give regarding that uncertainty?

Bryan Laskin:

Well, I’m wired to thrive on change just in general. So I’m probably the, so uncertainty doesn’t give me as much anxiety. Of course just, what’s going on with the world, the surrealness of what’s going on. It gives me anxiety, but the you know, so what I would say is that, you know, that uncertainty really existed two weeks ago, right?

Whether or not the certainty that you had was a falsehood. Right? So and I think we’re all understanding that that’s the case. But if you look back on what’s happened historically after these types of crisis’ and you know, kind of how things are, how people are reacting, some of that will give some, I think maybe make people feel better. Cause if you look at what happened historically, this isn’t, this was the first time we’ve had this type of this specific type of crisis.

But crisis has happened all the time, unfortunately you know, every, every eight to 20 years or whatever. And so we’re going through and now it’s no fun. That’s true. But the world’s been through them and we’ll continue to go to them on a cycle and we’ll just, you know, I, the way I look at it is that this isn’t this isn’t really that abnormal of a thing.

If you look at it, at what epidemiologists have been predicting this for years and years luckily this isn’t the type of virus that most people die from. I mean, so there’s, there’s a lot of positives. But maybe the best advice I can say is just not to watch the news. Cause every time I turn on the news, I too want to crawl up into a corner and start crying. Right. So I, I avoid, I avoid the news more than the Coronavirus.

Rolando Mia:

No, you’re right. It’s a high, I forget I was talking there’s like this ticker and it’s just showing. And if you were just to watch that, you’d kind of freak out and think to yourself, well, wait a minute. You know, mortality rates aren’t that high, so thank you for that. I love that perspective too.

Bryan Laskin:

Horrible. Right. I mean it’s a horror. It’s horrible it’s going on. But if the news makes it like, feel like it makes you feel it. Like, you know, breaking news. Yeah. And you know, breaking news, there’s another hundred cases in Iowa or, you know, it’s like, yeah, it’s, it’s really bad, but we all can control, there’s a lot that we can control, right. And I think trying to stay positive as much as possible and looking for opportunity where you can, I think is going to keep you sane. And in times of uncertainty like this,

Rolando Mia:

Well, and especially for people like me, I’m going to just speak to myself. Sanity is good.

Bryan Laskin:

Have you found it?

Technology and Communication

Rolando Mia:

Eating like a fiend. Cause it’s right there cause I’m working for a moment. All I’m finding is I’m just consuming food. So, shifting gears slightly, you said the whole context of communication is really important. Opera DDS that does that too. Correct? There’s a context around it.

Bryan Laskin:

Oh yeah. We have, I think Opera DDS really is the most comprehensive communication platform in dentistry. We started off with team chat, so messaging between team members, which I believe is what provides quality care, good communication equals quality care in a lot of ways. But then we added HIPAA compliant email, digital case collaboration. We do full recall with texts, email, postcard reminders. We have just the best kickass online forms like textable forms in the industry by far. It’s a very broad platform. And we also have a teledentistry application, which right now is exploding. You know, we’re really, cause when you can’t see patients it’s really important to be able to see what’s going on. That’s always been the case.

But right now because several state boards are pushing teledentistry and saying this is how you should evaluate people now instead of just having them come in and possibly, you know, infecting everybody, have them send a video or a still images that which is what we do at Opera DDS.

Yup. And, and then, and right now, just a few days ago, I think it was on Friday of last week, seven of the insurance companies, will cover a teledentistry exam as they would if their person was in your office. And so the two codes – yep. So if they take a picture of their tooth and you do and you see them and do a procedure down the road, you have to build, there’s the tears, of the codes: D9996 and D9995 the 9995 is for synchronous communication. So if you do like a video chat, like what we’re doing right now and six is for asynchronous communication, which is what I recommend. I don’t want to talk to my patients when they’re, I don’t even talk to my wife when I’m out of town. I sure as hell don’t want to talk to my patients who are emotional via video chat.

Right. So either one though, but you have to combine it with a, with a, with a different, like a code, like a diagnostic code, like the a 04140 like a limited exam. So insurance companies are, so several insurance companies are not, are now covering that at as if you had saw the patient in the office for the exam, which I think is great. And I think that’ll hopefully continue because it makes sense for everybody, including insurance companies, you know, cause if I see you have a broken tooth, I can have you come in and do the crown versus having come in the office say, Oh, you need a crown, can you come back in two weeks? It’s moronic. Right?

So and there’s much more to it than that. But in this moment of crisis being able to triage emergencies through teledentistry is huge. And it’s gone from a feature that we’ve had for a couple of years that everybody was interested in, but people didn’t really leverage that much to now it’s like we had like 15 offices sign up yesterday because they’d want to see if they need that like now. Right.

Rolando Mia:

That’s so incredible. And, you know, as I’m thinking through it, I mean a lot of times you’re right, it could save, it could save a trip because it’s like, “Hey doctor, take the picture”. You look at it, you go, “Oh yeah, come in” or “no, no, you’re good”. You’re coming back. So loved the message. And what was it? It was D” what would this, those codes again just to…?

Bryan Laskin:

Oh, so D9995 and D9996.

Rolando Mia:

Okay. Very good. That’s, that’s great to hear. The other thing and we spoke briefly about is like you’re doing with us education. Sounds like a really, you had mentioned that to me when we were talking before, how important you’ve also got another platform that you use. There are lots of different platforms to do that. Thoughts on education?

Bryan Laskin:

Yeah, I think education is vitally important and right now at this point in time, if you aren’t seeing patients, it’s a great time to get caught up on, on education and get your CE’s and everything else. The education that we provide or I provide within a new, a relatively new platform that we launched called Upgrade Dental. It’s upgrade dental.com. Yeah, exactly.

It’s really, I felt like there’s a lot of confusion in the technology space and I felt like a lot of dentists don’t have the time. You know, now you can’t even go to the conventions and shop around 12 different CAD cam systems or CT imaging or digital x-rays. And so what I try to do is provide clarity, explain how we got to this. Well, first of all, we have a timeline of every technology that’s available in dentistry in the order which you should implement them.

And then for each one, we talk about how we got to this point with this technology, what it is, why it matters how to evaluate technology, and then how to implement it. And then I give it a specific recommendation for every technology. I don’t take money from any of the companies. I just think that there’s a lack of, some people are trying to be too wishy washy and be like, you know, Switzerland. I think it’s important for, I love Switzerland by the way. It’s one of my favorite countries, but which is great, but when it comes to selecting technology in dentistry, I think a lot of dentists need the clarity. If somebody say, “Hey, I’ve, I’ve kicked the tires, I’ve done, it all you know, I’ve used it all and this is what I recommend.” You know, and that’s, that’s what I try to do.

Am I always right? Absolutely not. But I think, but my chance, but I think in all of these technologies, I’ve probably looked at it more closely than 99.9% of the dentists will. And I certainly have I have some inside information into a lot of, as you know, like with just being involved in technology, in dentistry on a deep level for the last 20 years. It’s really just, I just imagine dentists are busy and they don’t have the time to figure out like, what should I buy? So we’re trying to provide that clarity. And then we also reach out to those vendors and say, “Hey, if you want to help out the upgrade dental members, would you give us the best deal you can?” And then of course it was like, “yes, it’s great.”

Rolando Mia:

That’s great, I love the perspective because especially now catching up on your CE is one thing, but also catching up on understanding technology because technology, it’s moving very quickly. So especially when clinicians, dentists, DA’s, hygienists, you name it, any of the clinicians in the dental industry are looking for information. The message that you have, which is take the time now not only to get your CE but also learn about all this cool stuff that’s going on and you know this cause it’s effectively going to be the future. Tell the dentistry. I love the context around that too. That was very, really helpful.

Bryan Laskin:

Well I like to say, you know, who’s the most reliable, the most reliable employee you have?

Bryan Laskin:

Go ahead. It’s the technology in your office, your recall system. Like, if you use opera DDS, it’s sending out messages your patients while you’re sleeping, right. That Isolite if your assistant can’t come in and you have to see an emergency patient that Isolite’s therefore ya, right. I mean, that’s, so there’s so many ways to leverage technology that I think dentists they don’t think it all the way through. Sometimes like paperless forms, over 80% of offices use paper.

Like I can’t even get my hair cut for $8 and, and fill out a paper form because they understand it’s not worth their time. And you’ve got like your front office person who acts like they’re an octopus doing 12 things at once and you, and you want them to scan and shred. And I mean, it’s just, I tell dentists, do me a favor, when you go back to it, when your office is open, or maybe now’s the perfect time when that emergency patient comes in, you process their forms, right?

One you will switch to paperless forms, but the amount of wasted the mind numbing laborious work that goes on in the average dental practice. We have these talented individuals and we’re giving them just the crappiest of crap work to do. Right. Let’s, sorry you got me on my soapbox. I think technology is way under-leveraged in the average dental practice in a lot of different ways and that’s really what I feel like my mission is, is to bring us up to speed with the rest of the world.

You know, the rest of the world, technology is going super fast and we’re plugging along like a snail and I think that that’s dangerous. I think that that’s what has led to companies like Smile Direct Club, you know, or things being sold in Target and Walmart that should be sold through our dental practices is because we haven’t adapted as an industry to what consumers are looking for. And that’s a big part of what I want to do.

Rolando Mia:

Yeah. I love, I have to echo best saying ever technology is the best employee. I absolutely love that. That’s one of our team and Dr. Bintee, love that. I think that’s hilarious. So thank you. Thank you for taking the time. Your perspective, the kind of, you know, it’s the reassuring message you’re giving us, you know what, we’re going to get through this and yes, deal with what you’re dealing with now. Over-communicate, do it. Well, that’s an important message that I’m hearing very clearly from you, but also make sure that you’re looking at your business, your livelihood, and putting things in place forward. I did, kind of sum that up correctly?

Bryan Laskin:

Yeah, I agree. I mean, I think, right now all of our Etch A Sketches are being shaken, right? So we kind of have the opportunity to re look into design a new picture when we’re, when we’re on the other side of this. Right? And that is an opportunity that every practice, every business, every day, everybody has. And so we don’t know what the other end of this is going to look like, but we’ll get there. Right. And I think the, when you, when your chest pieces are on the floor, when you can design where you want to put them on the board when the game’s back on. And I think this is the time to do that.

Rolando Mia:

Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your insight. I love the context around technology. What are you doing now when you’re at home or are you,

Bryan Laskin:

I’m not at home and I am incredibly busy. We’re doing a lot. There’s, there’s going to be a lot of technology that gets born out of this crisis. I can tell you that. Not from our RN for sure.

Rolando Mia:

Well, take care. Please be safe. Appreciate you taking the time. And I know that your, your, your site is on, you know, oper DDS is there, you can find you. Dr Laskin. It’s been a pleasure. Look forward to seeing you at some point and if not virtually seeing you and spending more time with you.

Bryan Laskin:

Yeah, hopefully. Sometimes there’ll be some dental show that will go on this year. That’ll I can see it. Okay. Thanks a lot. Have a

Rolando Mia:

Wonderful rest of your week.

[gravityform id=2 title=false description=false ajax=true tabindex=49]
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
[if lte IE 8]
[if lte IE 8]