Referrals Are Key to Growing Endodontics Practice
The GentleWave® System from Sonendo® helps Hill impress referring dentists
Ron Hill, DDS, MSD, identifies two turning points in his career. The first came when, after 9 years as a general dentist, he decided to go back to school to specialize in endodontics. The second came after he purchased an endodontic practice, when his wife, Stacy, launched a marketing campaign to grow the business.
"I did not expect to be here when I got out of dental school," Hill says of co-owning Southwest Endodontics, which has two offices in the Greater Houston area. "This was not my plan initially, but it worked out really nicely."
After several years of general practice, Hill found himself gravitating toward continuing education courses that focused on endodontics, but he eventually hit a limit as to how much he could learn through CE. Despite having two young children at home, with Stacy's blessing, he went back to school and completed an endodontics residency in 2010. He joined a well-established practice as an associate, knowing that the two owners were ready to retire soon, and he bought them out fully in 2013. Now, he has a partner and one associate with plans to continue growing.
According to Hill, the practice's growth can be attributed in large part to Stacy, who has a college degree in marketing. "We are a referral-based practice, but marketing to other dentists can be difficult to work into the schedule, so she decided to lead our marketing efforts," Hill says. "Having someone who could go out and consistently visit offices and drop off cards made a difference. Many dentists said that they did not know about us previously."
Of course, referrals only last if the specialist backs up the marketing with good dentistry. Hill worked with consultants to make sure that he and his staff were offering patients the best experience possible.
"I do not think I'm really that much better than any other endodontist, but our staff does a fantastic job," Hill says. "We treat our patients' teeth effectively, and they go back to the general practitioner having had a positive experience. That is all it takes."
In his quest to provide the best patient experience, Hill had been following the GentleWave® System from Sonendo since it came to the market in 2015.
"It looked more promising than anything we had seen," he says. "I had been in practice long enough to have seen many cases that were unsuccessful despite great endodontic treatment. I had always felt that the irrigation protocols we had were not very good, but they were all we had. After following the GentleWave System for 2 to 3 years and not seeing anything negative in the research, I was convinced that it might be the next big thing in endodontics."
The GentleWave System's irrigation process harnesses optimized procedural fluids, vertical flow, and broad-spectrum acoustic energies to debride and disinfect the root canal system-even the undetected, uninstrumented spaces-with a minimally invasive protocol that leaves more of the tooth structure intact. Hill likens the importance of this development to laser eye surgery.
"The LASIK procedure completely transformed the field of vision correction," he says. "I wanted to be on the cusp of something similar for endodontics. I also believed we could use the GentleWave System to position our practice as offering something that not many other dentists were offering."
Hill says the GentleWave System is all about improving patient outcomes and providing a better patient experience. Before purchasing the system, he sent a letter to all of his referring doctors about the new technology he was incorporating. "With the GentleWave System, there is a difference in the postoperative appearance of the treated tooth when compared with the appearance of a tooth treated with the traditional technique," he says. "I wanted them to know ahead of time what to expect and that this would give us better results than we were currently seeing."
"This is a more conservative technique," he says. "It accomplishes better cleaning than what we had been doing. If the referring doctors understand that this new technology can provide better outcomes and a better patient experience, why would they want to send their patients elsewhere?"
Presently, Hill uses the GentleWave System for more than 90% of his cases. Patients who have previously undergone root canal treatment say that it is a completely different experience. The system also helps limit the number of two-visit cases that result from the need to place medicine to properly disinfect.
"This machine irrigates and cleans the canals better than our other treatments did," Hill says. "I am so much more confident that all of the areas are clean, and limiting the need for two-visit treatment is better for the patient and better for the referring dentist."
As the GentleWave System continues to provide a concrete differentiator for marketing purposes and an increased ability to back up that marketing with exceptional patient outcomes, Hill's practice continues to grow.
"The GentleWave System is a game changer," he says.
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