Inside Dentistry
July 2018
Volume 14, Issue 7

Comprehensive, Patient-First Dentistry Yields Growth

Buffering with Anutra helps Riccobene keep patients happy and expand business

Michael Riccobene, DDS,has opened 16 offices during his first 18 years in practice, but his keys to success are fairly simple: offer comprehensive treatment, make patients comfortable, and cultivate a happy staff.

"When you focus on patients and their comfort, and you are able to deliver care for which they were previously accustomed to driving long distances, your practice can grow very quickly," says Riccobene, whose Riccobene Associates Family Dentistry offices stretch across approximately half of the state of North Carolina, from Goldsboro to Clemmons.

During dental school, Riccobene decided that he wanted to have a practice where patients could receive all of their treatments in one location. During a 2-year general practice oral medicine residency, he honed his skills in surgery, implantology, and other areas.

"As long as I possessed the necessary skill set, I wanted to do as many different types of dentistry as I could," he says. "We provide multidisciplinary care and give patients a lot of options. And having specialists available in our various locations makes it easier for patients to accept treatment than if they were referred to another office."

As he opened new locations, Riccobene added specialists to his staff. From the beginning, he has prioritized keeping the entire staff happy because he believes that greatly impacts the patient experience. For 2 years in a row, Riccobene Associates Family Dentistry has been named one of the "50 Best Places to Work" in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park area by Triangle Business Journal. "If dentists do not treat their staff well on a daily basis, patients can sense that they are unhappy," Riccobene says.

Both patients and staff appreciate when the dentist invests in the best products and equipment, he adds, and one such product that has been particularly effective is Anutra Medical's Anutra Local Anesthetic Delivery System.

The Anutra system utilizes buffering-a chemical process that neutralizes acids and bases-to bring the pH of lidocaine with epinephrine closer to the physiologic pH. This is accomplished by precisely mixing the anesthetic with sodium bicarbonate. Because buffered anesthetics can cross the nerve membrane more readily, patients can become numb much faster. In addition, buffering can deepen the quality of anesthesia, increasing the likelihood that patients will become sufficiently numb after the first injection.

"I do a lot of sedation dentistry, and in many cases, the patients cannot necessarily respond, but they do feel pain. Their heart rate and blood pressure rise, which subsequently decreases the effectiveness of the anesthesia," Riccobene says. "Because there is a limit to how long you can keep patients asleep, one of the keys to successful sedation is completing the procedure in a timely fashion. Anutra allows me to numb patients faster and more effectively."

For patients who are not sedated, the difference that buffering makes is more obvious. The dentist's workflow can be disrupted if the patient feels pain. The Anutra system not only works faster and more effectively to eliminate pain, but a small topical application of the buffered anesthetic can be used to reduce the pain of the injection itself. In addition, because less anesthetic is required, the effects do not linger for as long as they usually do after the procedure.

"I am able to get the patients completely numb with certainty, start working immediately, complete the procedure more quickly, and increase patient satisfaction substantially," Riccobene says. "Unsedated patients have been ecstatic, and the Anutra system also has allowed me to see more patients in an 8-hour workday. Implementing it was a win-win in every respect."

A smooth workflow and more satisfied patients make the staff happy as well. "My staff is completely dedicated to providing our patients with a good experience, so when we introduce new modalities into the practice that help the patients feel less pain, they appreciate that," Riccobene says. "There is nothing worse than feeling as if you are not accomplishing your mission of providing cutting-edge dentistry in the most comfortable environment possible. When your staff senses that you are willing to invest in improving the patient experience, it enhances their work environment."

The result is an immensely successful practice. Riccobene Associates Family Dentistry also has earned multiple "Best Dentist in Wake and Johnson Counties" awards from Angie's List and Cary Magazine, among other recognitions. "We have slowly expanded our footprint," Riccobene says. "Offering a wide array of services and an exceptional patient experience has been critical to our growth."

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